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FAQ about academic integrity/dishonesty (cheating and plagiarism)

What happens if my professor thinks that I may have cheated/plagiarized?

First, your professor should be confident that cheating or plagiarism has occurred. If the professor suspects but has doubts regarding your involvement in cheating or plagiarism, you should be consulted prior to the professor taking action regarding the cheating or plagiarism. If your professor is confident that cheating or plagiarism has occurred, you should be notified by written memorandum. This communication could come in the form of an email and will include the intended outcome for cheating or plagiarism—likely meaning the impact on your grade.

What if I did not cheat/plagiarize?

If you deny cheating or plagiarizing, two actions will be afforded to you: 1), you will be given the opportunity to meet with the department head to determine if the situation can be resolved, and 2) you can appeal a finding of cheating or plagiarism through OSRR.

Can OSRR change my grade if I'm found to be not responsible for cheating/plagiarism?

The Office of Student Rights & Responsibilities does NOT have the authority to change a grade, that is the responsibility of the professor of record for the course, or the Provost, who is the Chief Academic Officer. All academic-related matters, including grades, fall under the academic function of the university. The “appeal” to OSRR referred to in AS-722-10 determines whether a student can appeal their grade reduction to the Fairness Board, which will then make a recommendation to the Provost.

What if I was already reported to OSRR for cheating/plagiarism?

In situations where the behavior has already been reported to OSRR, and where an investigation into the alleged student misconduct results, there will be no need for a formal appeal, as OSRR will already be investigating the alleged behavior. OSRR will process cases and appeals as quickly as possible. However, investigations can take up to 40 working days to complete. If OSRR determines that it is more likely than not that your actions constitute cheating or plagiarism, then you will not be able to appeal the grade with penalty to the Fairness Board.

FAQ about student conduct

Are the Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, student disciplinary rules and process similar to those of other colleges?

The Standards for Student Conduct are the same at all 23 California State Universities and are authorized according to Section 41301, Title V, California Code of Regulations. The CSU student conduct procedures are authorized by Executive Order 1073, issued by the Office of the Chancellor. All colleges and universities have some type of student disciplinary process. Our overview of the process can be found here.

Can I consult an advisor during the disciplinary process?

A student may confer with advisors at any stage in the disciplinary process.  Both Complainant and Student Charged may elect to be accompanied by an advisor to any meetings.  The advisor's role is limited to observing, consulting with, and providing support to Complainant or Student Charged.  An advisor may not speak on behalf of Complainant or Student Charged.

Does OSRR have off-campus jurisdiction?

In some circumstances, OSRR does have off-campus jurisdiction. "Conduct that threatens the safety or security of the campus community, or substantially disrupts the functions or operation of the University is within the jurisdiction of this Article regardless of whether it occurs on or off campus" [Title 5, Article 2, Sec. 41301 (d)].

FAQ about the Process

How does the Office of Student Rights & Responsibilities decide to contact me?

A complaint or allegation of a possible violation of the Standards for Student Conduct is received by OSRR, usually in the form of a report from faculty, students, or staff. OSRR completes an initial investigation of the allegation, and if there is supporting evidence, initiates the student disciplinary process by emailing information about the charges to the student and directing the student to call the Office of Student Rights & Responsibilities to schedule an appointment to discuss the charges. 

What standard of proof is used to determine if a student is responsible for a violation of the Standards for Student Conduct?

It is the University's burden to show that it is "more likely than not" that a student violated the Standards for Student Conduct. The University's charge must be sustained by a preponderance of the evidence but not "beyond a reasonable doubt." 

What happens at the first meeting?

The first meeting is an informal meeting between the OSRR Director and the student charged. It is a chance for the Director to explain the disciplinary process to the student and the student's rights within that process. The Director also shares with the student the information contained in the complaint. The student then has an opportunity to respond to the information and provide any information that he or she feels is relevant. This meeting is an opportunity for the Director and the student charged to have an open and honest discussion about the incident. Usually, as a result of this meeting, the student and the Director agree on a mutually acceptable resolution to the incident.

Which Executive Order is appropriate for my situation?

Executive Order 1098 details the student conduct process at Cal Poly pursuant to the California Code of Regulations, Title 5, Section 41301. For cases involving sexual misconduct, the process begins with the Office of Equal Opportunity under Title IX and follows Executive order 1097.

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