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Honor Code cases down from previous year

STANFORD -- The number of Honor Code charges investigated at Stanford University fell to 20 during the 1990-91 academic year, a marked decrease from the previous year's 32 cases.

Judicial Affairs Officer Sally Cole, in her annual report, also reported that Fundamental Standard investigations dropped to eight, from 17 in the 1989-90 year. Disciplinary action has been taken in five of those, with one case pending.

For the second straight year, there were no cases under the Campus Disruption Policy, Cole said. During the past five years, the only cases -- 53 of them -- came in the 1988-89 year. All those stemmed from the forcible takeover of the president's office by students demanding a greater institutional commitment to minority issues.

The 20 Honor Code cases in 1990-91, Cole said, involved 17 men and three women, 12 of whom were undergraduates and eight graduates. Five cases were for plagiarism, three for altering an exam and submitting it for regrading, one for submitting for credit the work of other students, nine for unpermitted collaboration, and one each for using unpermitted notes during an examination and fraudulent grade change.

Penalties were imposed in 17 of the cases -- three are still pending -- ranging from letters of censure, delayed degree conferral and grades of No Credit to suspensions ranging from one quarter to a minimum of two years.

Eleven Honor Code cases arose in Computer Science or other departments in the School of Engineering, Cole reported. The remaining cases arose in the Cultures, Ideas and Values program, and the Psychology, Sociology, Anthropology, Physics and Chemistry departments.

The annual report coincided with release of the results of an October 1990 random survey of seniors at Stanford and other universities on the topic of academic honesty. The survey was designed by Donald McCabe, a professor of business ethics at Rutgers University's Graduate School of Management.

The survey showed that at Stanford, 62 percent of the 219 students responding said they had never seen another student cheat on a test; 91 percent had never used crib notes during an exam; and 86 percent had never copied from another student during an exam.

Data from 1961, 1976 and 1980 surveys show the percentages fairly consistent in the latter two categories. However, the number of students who had "never" seen another student cheat ranged from 76 percent in 1961 to 49 percent in 1976 to 72 percent in 1980.

In the current survey, 30 percent of the Stanford respondents had, at least once, copied material without proper footnotes, 6 percent had sought help in an exam from someone who had already taken the same exam, 15 percent had copied another's work, and 24 percent had engaged in unallowed collaboration.

Results from the roughly 30 other campuses involved in the survey were not made available by McCabe.

Cole said the decline in Fundamental Standard cases may be attributed in part to greater attention given to the issue during new student and resident assistant orientation programs last year.

The offenses and penalties in 1990-91 involved five men and three women; seven of them were undergraduates and one a graduate student.

Two cases were for physical assault. Of those, charges were dropped in one, and a degree was delayed for four quarters in the other.

The other cases were for altering an official report, drunken driving, making harassing telephone calls, unacceptable sexual conduct, theft of student property and false allegations. The unacceptable sexual conduct charge was dropped due to insufficient evidence. Penalties in the other cases ranged from a one-quarter delayed degree conferral to probation to suspension.

No charges have yet been filed under a 1990 interpretation of the Fundamental Standard of Student Conduct outlawing certain forms of discriminatory harassment, Cole said. The interpretation received widespread attention when it was debated for several years and enacted in mid-1990.

The Fundamental Standard dates from the turn of the century and is the university's basic code of student conduct. It requires students to act as, and treat one another as, "good citizens."



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