Academic Integrity Committee aims to educate

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Academic Integrity Committee aims to educate

BJU's Academic Integrity Committee seeks to educate students on plagiarism and other academic offenses. Photo: Kayla Jacobs

BJU takes the academic integrity of its students very seriously and has created a way to help them keep and restore that integrity.

The Academic Integrity Committee was designed as the way to decide on and hold students accountable for violation of BJU’s academic policies. The committee consists of two faculty members, two students, and a representative of the provost.

Elizabeth Rose, a BJU English faculty member who has served on the committee, said the committee follows guidelines that suggest what the response to an infraction should be. She explained that there are three levels of recommended responses to an infraction. Rose said that these levels of responses and the entire reporting and deliberation process is under the academics section of the BJU intranet page.

“We are not bound to follow those [guidelines] exactly because every situation is different” she said, “We have to judge the situation and determine what’s most appropriate.” She encouraged students to visit the intranet page if they had any questions about the committee’s process.

Natalie Larsen, a senior biblical counseling major who has served on the committee, encouraged students who have committed infractions to approach the committee with an open mind. She said the committee members are not trying to just hand down punishments. In fact, the members genuinely care for students.

“The students are always able to say what is going on and their side of things,” she said. “We want to give fairness to the student, and that’s why we have two students and two faculty to represent both sides.”

Dr. Roger Bradley, a faculty member in the Division of History, Government and Social Science, has also served on the committee. He said the committee approaches the topic of academic integrity with the goal of helping to educate the student.

“We’d much rather have people understand the issue than they try to be conscientious and avoid the problem,” he said.

Bradley said the committee does not exist to just punish students but to educate and help them. Bradley also shared two common reasons why students might plagiarize.

“One is someone doesn’t realize what the rules are,” he said. “People will borrow information from other people and don’t realize that it’s important not to do that. The other situation that happens is that people get in time crunches.” He gave tips to students to help them avoid plagiarism. “Ask!” he said, “Make sure you understand what the rules are.”

He encouraged students to approach their professors with questions. “That’s why we are here,” he said. “We want you to learn how to do this the right way.”

Rose also said that students should go to their professors, but she also recommended that students visit the Writing Center.

“The people who work there are very well qualified to give assistance,” she said. “They know what help they can give without giving so much that it turns into an unapproved collaboration.”

She said students should take advantage to all the resources they have available to them.

Dr. David Fisher, vice provost for academic administration who chairs the academic integrity committee, said that the matters brought before the committee may be summarized under one of four general student failings.

Students are often clueless or unaware of the integrity expectations for assignments or evaluations.  Students can also be simply careless.  This can take the form of plagiarizing by incorrectly or inaccurately attributing the owner of the content.

Students might also be calculated, deliberately choosing to breach guidelines.

Finally, students may be crunched for time and simply take an easy way out to compensate for last-minute time pressure.

Turning in work that is not your own, not properly crediting or citing source of material, plagiarizing, using improper help or aids to fulfill assignments, or simply not following the instructions given by a faculty member for how an assignment—these all factors that can impact a student’s academic integrity, Fisher said.

Through the academic integrity guidelines and the guidance of the Academic Integrity Council, BJU seeks to educate and encourage students to avoid these types of integrity failings and pursue academic integrity.