Senate committee aims to promote U academic integrity

Liz Bogut

Summer finals could be the last exams students take without pledging academic integrity.
Members of the Special Senate Committee on Student Academic Integrity will be working over the summer to begin implementing several measures to promote academic integrity at the University; measures that have become the topic of much debate.
The measures, approved April 20 by the University Senate, include pledges students must sign upon admittance to the University and before taking any test. In addition, an Office of Academic Integrity will be created.
“While this response of attempting to control students’ cheating seems obvious in the wake of the basketball cheating scandal, the motivation for pushing this on all students is not all that clear,” said Harvey Sarles, cultural studies and comparative literature professor, in an April 25 letter to the editor. “Is this a good idea, or one that will mostly patch over old wounds?”
The plans were part of recommendations made in a report by the special committee. The committee met for several months to discuss academic integrity issues at the University.
But one University administrator said the academic integrity measures address concerns that have been around for quite some time.
“The basketball scandal certainly precipitated the issue, but there are broader concerns that have nothing to do with basketball,” said Craig Swan, vice provost for undergraduate education.
Swan said academic integrity is something that needs to be talked about and is an issue that should not be left up to students to define.
“As a student, I am willing to sign such an academic loyalty oath, but only if I am allowed to apply the same to the staff of the University, specifically to the Special Senate Committee on Student Academic Integrity,” said Curtis Hammond, graduate student in the School of Kinesiology and Leisure Studies in an April 25 letter to the editor.
Fred Morrison, chairman of the Faculty Consultative Committee, said the integrity measures are not asking students to do something faculty members are not already expected to do.
“There are already policies in place for faculty members. This is simply putting another piece in place,” Morrison said.
In addition, Morrison said the Office of Academic Integrity will provide faculty members with an institutional response for things that are institutional concerns.
But whether or not the measures will actually reduce the amount of cheating is uncertain.
“I am hoping they do. It will be a little more up front about what is appropriate and what is not. I think that was part of the problem,” Swan said.

Liz Bogut covers faculty and welcomes comments at [email protected] She can also be reached at (612) 627-4070 x3217.