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43 student misconduct cases last year led to penalties

STANFORD -- Forty-three cases handled by Stanford's Judicial Affairs Office last year led to penalties, according to Judicial Affairs Officer Sally Cole.

The 1992-93 number of cases resulting in penalties was the same as three years earlier, in 1989-90. In between, cases resulting in penalties dipped to 26 (in 1990-91) and 29 (1991-92).

A total of 52 charges were brought last year, with seven dropped and students' leaving the university in two others. Final resolution of seven cases still remains but, Cole said, the charges are uncontested in those.

The charges broke down into 40 involving the Honor Code (all seven of the dropped cases were in this category) and 12 the Fundamental Standard.

The increase in charges from the previous two years came mostly in the Honor Code category - from 20 each of those prior years. However, Cole said that student surveys conducted in 1961, 1976, 1980,1984 and 1990 showed little long-term variation in the extent of dishonest behavior among students generally.

"The first thing to remember is that we have over 13,000 students, and 40 Honor Code charges is not an indicator by itself of a serious problem or epidemic," she said. The 1992-93 figures "could mean that there is a higher level of dishonesty than in previous years, but it could also mean there is more awareness of cheating and more reporting of it."

"I think it is time to take a critical look at the Honor Code's effectiveness through surveys of students and faculty," Cole said. "Without doing some kind of survey - asking students anonymously about their personal honesty and dishonesty - it's hard to know if changes appear to be warranted."

In her recent State of Student Affairs address, Vice Provost and Dean Mary Edmonds announced her intention to review the Honor Code and update the legislative and judicial charter of 1968.

Fifteen of the 1992-93 Honor Code cases arose in computer science courses. The remainder were scattered across departments. The most common penalty was denying academic credit, followed by one-quarter suspensions, delays in degree conferral, academic probation, and mandatory community service.

The dozen cases involving the Fundamental Standard of student behavior ranged from telephone authorization code abuse to assault.

The 1992-93 cases involved 43 undergraduates and nine graduate students; by gender, they comprised 36 men and 16 women. The most frequent charges involved plagiarism (17 cases) and unpermitted collaboration (eight cases), both Honor Code matters.

Under Stanford's Honor Code, which dates from 1921, students collectively accept responsibility for their honesty, and faculty do not take extraordinary measures to detect student dishonesty. The Fundamental Standard is a two-sentence code of conduct stated by the university's first president, David Starr Jordan, in 1896; it expects students to show "respect for order, morality, personal honor, and the rights of others as is demanded of good citizens."



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