I. First Phase- Determination of Initial Sanction

These guidelines for the first phase of sanctioning should be used in determining the sanction that is most appropriate for the violation that was committed, and without regard to mitigating or exacerbating circumstances.  For offenses not expressly addressed in these guidelines, the Board should apply the general principles conveyed through these guidelines.

A. Dismissal

  • Dismissal from the University is the most severe sanction a Board can recommend.
  • Dismissal is reserved for situations in which efforts to educate the student on the importance of academic integrity and to reform his/her behavior have not worked, and the Board believes it is appropriate to remove the student permanently from the Georgetown Community.
    • Dismissal is, for example, appropriate if a student has previously committed one or more Honor System violations warranting suspension and has committed another violation after return from suspension.
    • Dismissal is also the appropriate sanction for egregious first-time offenses, such as altering one’s academic transcript.
  • Dismissal is noted permanently on the student’s transcript at the end of the semester’s entries in which the violation occurred:  “Dismissal: Violation of Honor System.”

B. Suspension

  • Suspension is the appropriate sanction for extensive first-time violations on a major assignment (worth at least 20 percent of the course grade) for which the student knew, or presumably should have known, that he or she was violating the Honor System.
    • Extensive plagiarism would be regarding a paper which in itself has a high percentage of plagiarized material (i.e., has little of the student’s own thought).
    • In addition to a percentage of the paper known to be plagiarized, the extent or significance of the plagiarism may be determined by considering the paper both with and without the plagiarized material, asking, “Does the amount of plagiarism, if undetected, create a significantly better paper?”  or “Would this consideration affect the grade for the assignment?”  These may be questions for the Investigating Officer or Hearing Board to ask of the professor reporting the allegation either in the course of the investigation or during a hearing.
  • Examples of offenses in which suspension is the appropriate sanction include, but are not limited to
    • entire or considerable plagiarism on a major paper (see Glossary for “plagiarism” and “major”)
    • cheating on a major test
    • unauthorized collaboration on a major project
    • altering a graded major assignment for re-grading
  • Suspension may also be appropriate for a repeat violation of a sanctioned lesser offense.
  • Suspension will typically be imposed for one semester, but may be imposed for two semesters at the discretion of the Board or the Dean if it is determined that there are exacerbating factors which are particularly compelling.
  • In almost all cases, suspension is noted on the student’s transcript at the end of the semester in which the violation occurred:  “Suspension: Violation of Honor System.”

C. Notation on Transcript:  Levels One and Two

  • A Notation on Transcript is an intermediate level sanction shown on a student’s official academic record (transcript). 
  • In almost all cases, the notation is placed at the end of the entries for the semester in which the violation occurred.
  • Generally, a transcript notation would be an appropriate sanction for a violation of the Honor System related to an assignment that is not a major component in assessing the quality of the student’s coursework, e.g the assignment is worth less than 20% of the grade and/or is one of several assignment weighted equally in assigning a final grade.   
  • There are two levels of transcript notation:
    • A Level One Transcript Notation is a sanction for which the student is eligible for sanction reduction.  The notation reads: “Censure: Violation of Honor System.  This notation can be removed on [date] through student action.”  With the successful completion of a sanction reduction plan, this level of sanction will be removed from the transcript two years after the semester in which the violation occurred, and then reduced to a Letter of Reprimand until the student graduates from Georgetown.  
    • A Level Two Transcript Notation is a permanent sanction and reads: “Censure: Violation of Honor System.”  The student is not eligible for participation in the Sanction Reduction Program.
    • Hearing boards or the Executive Board (for expedited sanctions) should consider the following when it is necessary to decide between the two levels of transcript notation (or correspondingly, when to recommend the sanction above or below a transcript notation):
      • Two levels of transcript notation provide for greater discrimination and subtlety when recommending a sanction.
      • A permanent transcript notation (Level Two) would be appropriate when:
        -a suspension would not be a useful alternative and not of educational value for the student’s individual situation, i.e., such a suspension would be considered only punitive or even harmful to the student.
        -the egregiousness of the violation, in the opinion of a designated Honor Council board or the Dean, does not warrant eligibility for the Sanction Reduction Program.
        -offenses for which a Level Two Notation on Transcript is an appropriate sanction are often characterized by situations for which the student clearly intended to take action which he or she knew, or presumably should have known, was a violation of the Honor System.                                                                                                                                                                                   -the student may have a sanction for a previous comparable offense.
      • A transcript notation eligible for sanction reduction  (i.e., Level One) would be appropriate when the reason for a student’s violation is recognizably due to ignorance of standards of good citation, poor time management, genuine confusion about rules of collaboration, i.e., overall, issues about which the student may be educated and practices corrected through various kinds of sanction reduction plans.
    • Examples of first-time offenses for which a transcript notation is appropriate include:
      -plagiarism, cheating, impermissible collaboration, etc. on an assignment that is not a major means of assessing the quality of the student’s work
      -forging a signature on administrative documents, such as a medical excuse
      -altering a graded assignment for re-grading
      -destruction of library property or purposefully concealing library books to make them unavailable to others

D. Letter of Censure

  • A Letter of Censure is an intermediate level sanction which directs that a letter noting the type of Honor System violation be placed in the student’s academic file maintained in the Dean’s Office.
  • Offenses for which a Letter of Censure is an appropriate sanction are often characterized by a combination of deceit, ignorance, and confusion by the accused student. Usually these assignments are worth more than 5% but less than 20% of the course grade.
  • Examples of when a Letter of Censure is appropriate include, but are not limited to:
    • submitting the same paper properly written by the student, or portions thereof, in multiple courses without permission or attribution
    • extensive collaboration on an assignment where some collaboration was allowed
    • submitting work with incomplete citations
    • submitting work with references but without proper citation of direct quotations or paraphrased text.

E. Letter of Reprimand

  • A Letter of Reprimand is the least severe sanction for Honor System violations and is meant to serve as a written warning for a lack of judgment or for questionable behavior on the part of the student in a less serious context than would warrant a Letter of Censure.
  • Offenses warranting a Letter of Reprimand are generally for assignments worth less than 5% of the grade.
  • The Letter of Reprimand is retained in the student’s Honor Council file and generally would not be reported on except in the event of a subsequent Honor System adjudication.
  • Examples of situations in which a Letter of Reprimand is appropriate include, but are not limited to:
    • submitting the student’s own prior work or engaging in excessive collaboration for an assignment worth only a very small percentage of the course grade (usually less than 5%)
    • including false or improper citations in a small assignment or only a small portion of an assignment while the vast majority of the assignment is the student’s own thought and work with proper citations
    • exhibiting behavior related to a course that is in some way questionable or does not follow instructions issued by the instructor.