Academic Integrity


An essential dimension of Pacific Lutheran University’s mission is to provide for the intellectual, social, physical, emotional, and spiritual development of students.  Faculty, students, and administrators share responsibility for accomplishing these goals.  Academic integrity is honesty concerning all aspects of academic performance.  Academic integrity must be fully integrated into the campus academic environment, including norms for student life and classroom expectations.  Integration is best accomplished when faculty and students understand and accept standards of academic behavior, and when the standards are fairly and uniformly enforced.

The faculty’s authority over the classroom and grades reinforces the principles of academic integrity and the consequences of academic misconduct.  Expectations and policies regarding academic dishonesty should be clear within and across academic units, and the classroom should be conducted in a manner to support those policies.  Instructors need to know the following enforcement system and are obligated to use it when academic dishonesty occurs.  Enforcement supports honest students and promotes our commitment to academic integrity.  Enforcement also allows for the ability to better monitor the quantity and nature of academic dishonesty incidents and to track students who repeatedly commit acts of academic dishonesty so that such behavior by students is discouraged but dealt with accordingly.

PLU’s expectation is that students will not cheat or plagiarize, and that they will not condone these behaviors or assist others who cheat or plagiarize.  Academic misconduct not only jeopardizes the career of the individual student involved, but also undermines the scholastic achievements of all PLU students and attacks the mission of this institution.  Students are inherently responsible to do their own work, thereby ensuring the integrity of their academic records.

Administrators shall disseminate this policy through publications and presentations to all students while the Academic Performance and Integrity Committee (APIC) shall also publicize this policy to all faculty.  Administrators must promote uniform interpretation and enforcement of this policy, and the APIC shall regularly report summarized data to the campus community concerning instances and outcomes of academic misconduct.  The APIC will review this policy every three years.

What is Academic Dishonesty?

PLU defines Academic Dishonesty as violating procedures prescribed to protect the integrity of an assignment, test, or other evaluation.  The most common forms of academic dishonesty are cheating and plagiarism.

Cheating includes, but is not limited to:

  • Submitting material that is not yours as part of your course performance, such as submitting a downloaded paper off of the Internet; or
  • Using information or devices not allowed by the instructor (such as formulas or a computer program or data); or unauthorized materials (such as a copy of an examination before it is given); or
  • Fabricating information, such as data for a lab report; or
  • Collaborating with others on assignments without the instructor’s consent; or
  • Cooperating with or helping another student to cheat; or
  • Other forms of dishonest behavior, such as having another person take an exam for you, altering exam answers and requesting the exam be re-graded, or communicating with anyone other than a proctor or instructor during an exam.

Plagiarism occurs when one omits, misrepresents, or inaccurately documents how the work of others appears in and influences one’s own work.  Plagiarism can involve both products (such as words, formulas, or images) and ideas (such as ideas, intellectual approaches, or concepts), and can result from an intent to deceive or from a lack of due attention to the responsibilities of accurate documentation.

In short, plagiarism is the act of using any source (published, unpublished, or one’s own) that appears in or directly influences one’s own work without properly identifying it, such as (but not limited to):

  • Directly quoting the words of others without attribution and without using quotation marks or other accepted formats to identify them; or
  • Using any course work previously produced by the same student without prior approval from the current instructor; or,
  • Using altered wording, materials, or ideas of others without properly identifying their source; or
  • Representing an idea or strategy that is significant in one’s own work as one’s own when it comes from someone else.

Because plagiarism involves a misrepresentation of principles and processes fundamental to the integrity of the university, matters of plagiarism are taken very seriously by both administration and faculty.  If a student is unsure about something that they want to do or the proper use of materials, it is the student’s responsibility to ask the instructor for clarification.

Reporting Suspected Academic Dishonesty

Generally, instructors are strongly encouraged to report any suspected violations of the university’s academic integrity policy (AIP) through formal channels by submitting an electronic Academic Dishonesty Report Form (ADRF) with appropriate documentation. When an instructor believes a student has violated the university’s AIP, they may, at their discretion, contact the student to inform the student of the issue.

When an ADRF is submitted, it will be sent to the Student Rights and Responsibilities Office (SRR) for processing. The SRR will inform the student that an ADRF has been filed and will provide the student with a copy of the AIP along with information on the review process.

Resolving an Academic Dishonesty Incident

When an instructor believes a student has violated the university’s AIP, they may resolve the incident in accordance with one of the following options. Instructors are encouraged to consult with any member of the APIC regarding these procedures.

  1. The instructor may meet informally with the student to resolve the matter.
  2. The instructor may ask to meet with the student in the presence of witnesses to resolve the matter.  In this case, the student will be informed in writing of the purpose of the meeting, and of their right to have a witness present.

If an instructor is unable to meet with a student, as at the end of Spring Term, or a term before a student studies abroad, the instructor will document the suspected violation and send it to the student, via certified mail or email, together with a letter stating the penalty to be imposed.

3. The instructor may submit an electronic ADRF with appropriate documentation and an indication of the severity of the violation.

The electronic ADRF has two checkbox options:

    • Minor Academic Dishonesty: This option indicates that the suspected violation was non-egregious, and that the student should receive additional education in order to avoid future violations or suspected violations. Instructors are encouraged to discuss the situation and the reasons for filing the report with the student.
    • Major Academic Dishonesty: This option indicates that the suspected violation was egregious, and that the student should receive a hearing from an Academic Dishonesty Hearing Panel (ADHP). Instructors are encouraged to discuss the situation and the reasons for filing the report with the student.

When an ADRF has been filed, it will generate one of the following outcomes:

    • Reports of Minor Academic Dishonesty
      • If a report of minor academic dishonesty is the first report that has been filed against a student, the SRRO will inform the student that an ADRF has been filed and that they must attend a mandatory meeting with the Assistant Dean of Students or a designated university official, during which the student will receive additional education about academic integrity in an environment removed from perceived bias in order to avoid future violations or suspected violations.
        • In this meeting, no determination of responsibility will be made, but the student will be advised: 1) that the ADRF will remain on file 2) that it will be used to make determinations of responsibility if subsequent reports are submitted involving the student 3) of the possible sanctions that could be imposed if subsequent reports are submitted involving the student; and 4) that a single ADRF with a minor indicator will not be considered a student conduct record and will be automatically expunged from the student’s education record upon graduation. The student will also be directed to Academic Assistance, to their instructor, and to other resources that may help the student understand how to avoid future violations or suspected violations.
        • The instructor will be informed of the content of the mandatory meeting.
      • If a report of minor academic dishonesty is not the first report that has been filed against a student, it will be treated as a major report of academic dishonesty.
    • Reports of Major Academic Dishonesty
      • The SRR will inform the student that an ADRF has been filed and initiate a hearing as outlined below in “Formal Hearing Process.”

4. The instructor has the full authority to impose penalties with respect to their class. The minimum penalty grade for dishonesty in coursework that constitutes 30% or more of a course grade shall be an “E” for the course, unless the student is enrolled “pass/fail” in the class, and then the course grade will be an “F.” Dishonesty in other required course work shall result in a minimum penalty grade of zero for that work.

Occasions When an Academic Dishonesty Hearing Panel Must Be Called

  1. When academic dishonesty includes flagrant behavior.  Examples include, but are not limited to, having a substitute take an exam, fabricating experimental data, or buying a written term paper from someone.
  2. When more than one ADRF is filed for the same student at any time during that student’s PLU career.

Student Request for Formal Hearing

Students who disagree with a penalty imposed or the filing of an ADRF by an instructor may request a formal hearing by an ADHP.  Such a request must occur within five business days of notification of the grade in question or the notification of suspected academic dishonesty.  When filing such a request, the student must contact the APIC chair and provide a rationale for why they are challenging the instructor’s decision.  The APIC chair will then notify the instructor and coordinate a date and time for the formal hearing.  The student and instructor will be given at least 48-hours notice of the date, time and location of the formal hearing.

ADHP - Composition and Jurisdiction

An ADHP shall include two faculty and one student member assisted by the Assistant Dean of Students or a Student Rights and Responsibilities designee as a non-voting, advisory member.  During the academic year, faculty members will be appointed by the APIC chair from the faculty membership of the APIC; the student member will be appointed by the APIC chair from a pool of ten students (one appointed by the dean of each of the seven academic areas and three members appointed by ASPLU, all serving renewable one-year terms).  Every effort shall be made to conduct ADHPs during the academic year whenever possible.  In cases when conducting an ADHP during the summer months cannot be avoided, the Assistant Dean of Students or designee will appoint available trained students to serve on ADHPs.  The Provost will also recruit, subsequently assign, and financially compensate available faculty from the membership of the previous academic year’s APIC to serve on ADHPs in these cases.  If members of the previous academic year’s APIC cannot be recruited, the Provost may ask faculty with 12-month contracts to fill these faculty positions on ADHPs.  A faculty chair for each ADHP shall be elected from its membership.  Training for potential ADHP members will be provided as needed by the Assistant Dean of Students.

ADHPs are authorized to review and make decisions regarding allegations of misconduct brought by instructors, appeals from a student whose instructor has imposed penalties on them, student contests of the filing of an ADRF by a professor, and/or multiple alleged infractions of the policy, as identified by the Assistant Dean of Students. 

Formal Hearing Process

The purpose of an ADHP is to determine whether a student is responsible for academic dishonesty as described in the university’s Academic Integrity policy.  ADHP hearings are structured educational discussions, which focus on the student’s alleged misconduct within the university community.

ADHP hearings will be convened in a timely fashion relative to the request, either at the student’s request or due to the filing of Academic Dishonesty Report Form (ADRF)  by an instructor who requires a panel hearing.  Instructors may attend ADHP hearings as a witness either if requested by the panel or at their own request.  ADHPs are conducted as review meetings as described in the Student Conduct Procedures (Section VII – Review Procedures).  Throughout the review process, the following rights will be maintained and respected. 

For the student, these include:

  • The right to receive a written notice of the date, time and place of the ADHP hearing and a copy of the relevant Academic Dishonesty Report Form, at least 48-hours in advance of the ADHP;
  • The right to have an individual ADHP hearing if more than one student is charged with misconduct;
  • The right to request disqualification of any ADHP member the student believes to be biased.  Final determination of disqualification is made by the APIC chair;
  • The right to have witnesses with direct knowledge of the incident in question speak on the student’s behalf (character witnesses are not permitted);
  • The right to have a support person who is a non-familial student, staff member, or faculty member of the university community (excepting a lawyer) assist them in the proceedings.  A support person who accompanies a student is present for emotional support only and may not speak on the student’s behalf;
  • The right to fair and impartial decision-makers;
  • The right to a written copy of the ADHP’s decision;
  • The right to a self-initiated appeal.

For the instructor alleging misconduct, these include:

  • The right to have a support person, as described above.
  • The right to be informed of the ADHP’s decision (excluding recommended sanctions that do not directly affect the instructor) at the same time the student is notified of the decision.  In cases in which the instructor disagrees with the ADHP’s decision, they may provide the Provost’s Office with a document asserting their dissent within three business days.

The chair of an ADHP oversees the review meeting while the Assistant Dean of Students or designee responds to questions about an ADHP’s procedures, and may decide procedural matters not already established by an ADHP, with or without the advice of the other members.  Otherwise, a majority vote of the three voting members will decide a procedural question.  The chair is the spokesperson for an ADHP and is responsible for all communication on behalf of an ADHP.

Outline of Proceedings

An ADHP will review the written materials prior to the meeting and determine appropriate questions.  If a student wishes to submit additional written materials, these should be provided to the Assistant Dean of Students in advance of the hearing, if at all possible.  Students are strongly encouraged to provide such materials to better support their argument and to reduce the likelihood of an extended decision-making process.

An ADHP may hear from the instructor, student, and witnesses, asking questions as appropriate.  Questions must be pertinent to the report and the purpose of the meeting.  Witnesses may be brought forward by both the instructor and the student.  An ADHP may limit witness testimony to the facts of the situation, and excuse a witness if the information shared seems unproductive, redundant, or irrelevant.  An ADHP may invite as witnesses individuals who were included in the original written record of the incident.

The university expects that community members possess the skill and resources to discuss alleged academic misconduct; hence, legal counsel is not permitted at ADHP meetings.

An audio record of the proceedings will be made.  An ADHP’s file of the hearing and the recording shall be retained by the Provost until the appeal period has expired.  After the appeal period has ended, the records will be kept in accordance with the Student Conduct Procedures (Section X – Conduct Records).


The minimum penalty grade for dishonesty in coursework that constitutes 30% or more of a course grade shall be an “E” for the course, unless the student is enrolled “pass/fail” in the class, and then the course grade will be an “F”.  Dishonesty in other required course work shall result in a minimum penalty grade of zero for that work.  

Academic Dishonesty Hearing Panels may render a finding of either “responsible,” “not responsible,” or “inconclusive.”  The ADHP shall use majority vote to reach decisions.  ADHP decisions of “not responsible” or “inconclusive” should not be used as a record of previous academic misconduct. 

An ADHP is empowered, at its discretion, to take the following actions in accordance with its findings:

  • Recommend a change of grade to the instructor; and/or
  • Impose sanctions as listed in Section IX of the Student Conduct Procedures (except suspension, expulsion, or grade changes); and/or
  • Recommend suspension or expulsion of a student to the Provost.  Suspension and expulsion may be considered in severe cases and in cases where there is a previous history of academic dishonesty; grievous offenses such as academic dishonesty in capstones or culminating experiences may result in expulsion.  Penalties of suspension and expulsion must be endorsed by the Provost.  The Provost will convey their recommendation and reasons that support their position to the Dean of Students and confer with the Dean of Students regarding the import of the incident.  Sanctions of suspension or expulsion are imposed by the Dean of Students.  No specific mention of Academic Dishonesty will appear on the student’s transcript; however, suspensions and expulsions will be recorded as detailed in Section IX in the Student Conduct Procedures.  

An ADHP may also recommend that the instructor reduce a penalty that the ADHP believes was arbitrary or too severe.  If an ADHP finds that academic dishonesty did not occur, it will recommend to the instructor that the penalty imposed be rescinded and for the instructor to grade the course work on its academic merit.

When the penalty grade is an “E” or an “F” for the course, the instructor will notify the Registrar that the student may not withdraw from the class.  The Registrar will not record a final grade for the course until the date for the student to request a formal hearing has passed.  Students requesting a formal hearing shall be permitted to attend and fully participate in the course until the process is complete.

Generally, ADHP decisions will be made within five business days of the formal hearing and will be either available for pick-up by the student at the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities or personally delivered to the student, or sent by certified mail to the student’s most recent local address, permanent address, or via email, whichever is most appropriate as decided by the chair of the ADHP.  The decision will include an outline of the appeal process.  In the event that additional time for review, further investigation and/or deliberation is required, the instructor(s) and student(s) involved will be notified in writing or via email of the revised timeline.

Student Appeal Process

All imposed sanctions may be appealed on the grounds of lack of a fair review or severity of sanction within five working days of being notified of the sanction.  Students who wish to appeal a sanction should submit a written request for appeal to the chair of the APIC.  The letter must include: the appeal date; a detailed explanation of the grounds for the appeal; any information that was not available at the time of the formal hearing, and the signature of the student filing the appeal.  Electronic submissions of appeals will be accepted.  In cases that do not involve suspension or expulsion, the appeal is submitted by the chair of the APIC to the Provost for consideration of the appeal of the ADHP’s decision.  In cases involving suspension or expulsion, the appeal will be forwarded to the Dean of Students for action by the Vice President for Student Life.  Students may not appeal a sanction more than once.


The University expressly prohibits retaliation against any person who has reported academic misconduct to a member of the university community or who has participated in any way in the conduct of a case of academic misconduct or in the imposition of a sanction for academic misconduct.  Any person who violates this policy may be subject to disciplinary action, including suspension or expulsion from the university.

Maintenance of Records

Records of academic integrity violations will be maintained in accordance with the university’s Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) policy and the Student Conduct Procedures.  The records will be housed with the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities and will be kept according to the PLU Student Conduct Procedures.