Instances of academic misconduct represent behavior that is of an especially serious nature. Sanctions assigned for academic misconduct are responses to students’ behavior that will often have an impact on a student’s course grade. Sanctions assigned in instances of academic misconduct should convey the message that the behavior serves as a destructive force within the academic community. However, a wide range of sanctions can be employed in order to strike an appropriate balance between sending a message of accountability and enhancing a student’s moral and cognitive development.

The Undergraduate Honor System is empowered with assigning and implementing sanctions for academic misconduct. A faculty member may recommend sanctions for academic misconduct to the Undergraduate Honor System. The University’s recommended sanction for academic misconduct shall be an F* sanction as the student’s final course grade. More severe or lesser penalties may be imposed if the circumstances warrant, but these must be rare and extenuating circumstances. An F* sanction indicates that a student failed the course due to an Honor Code violation (there is a process to remove the * from a student’s transcript after a violation has occurred). However, a faculty member may recommend more severe or lesser penalties to the Undergraduate Honor System if the circumstances warrant. Examples of other sanctions that may be assigned include: lowered final course grade, reduction of points on an individual assignment, zero on the assignment, and completion of the Academic Integrity Education Program. With the approval of an honor system hearing panel, the sanctions of suspension and expulsion may also be assigned. Faculty are strongly encouraged to consult the Undergraduate Honor System prior to making recommendations on the appropriate sanction.

Subsequent violations of the Undergraduate Honor Code may result in expulsion from the University.


Further Guidelines for Faculty

Students who view the sanctions associated with violating the Honor Code as having a significant impact on their course grade are less likely to commit academic dishonesty than those who view the potential sanctions as minor. It is important that faculty send the message to students early in the course that all forms of academic misconduct are taken seriously and will be sanctioned appropriately. We recommend that faculty place the following language in their syllabi:

“If you have questions or are unclear about what constitutes academic misconduct on an assignment, please speak with me. I take the Honor Code very seriously in this course. The normal sanction I will recommend for a violation of the Honor Code is an F* sanction as your final course grade. The F represents failure in the course. The “*” is intended to identify a student who has failed to uphold the values of academic integrity at Virginia Tech. A student who receives a sanction of F* as their final course grade shall have it documented on their transcript with the notation “FAILURE DUE TO ACADEMIC HONOR CODE VIOLATION.” You would be required to complete an education program administered by the Honor System in order to have the “*” and notation “FAILURE DUE TO ACADEMIC HONOR CODE VIOLATION” removed from your transcript. The “F” however would be permanently on your transcript.”

The absence of this language does not preclude you from assigning an “F*” because the University’s normal sanction for academic misconduct is an “F*”. However, the above language may serve as a reminder to students.