Policy on Academic Integrity Regarding Cheating and Plagiarism

Policy Number: 21-01
Date: January 27, 2021



(This Policy Statement supersedes Policy Statements 77-14, 85-19, and 08-02.)
This Policy Statement was recommended by the Academic Senate on December 10, 2020 and approved by the President on January 26, 2021.



This policy outlines what constitutes cheating and plagiarism, what procedures will be used for alleged violations, what actions will be imposed, and what the procedures are available for appealing the actions taken.

Cheating and plagiarism are fundamentally destructive to the process of education and the confident evaluation of a student’s mastery over a subject. A university maintains respect and functions successfully within the larger community when its reputation is built on honesty. Each student benefits in helping to maintain the integrity of the university. This policy, therefore, provides for a variety of faculty actions, including those which may lead to the assignment of a failing grade for a course, and for a variety of administrative actions, which may lead to dismissal from the University. This document is written with the intent to support the principle that students are on their honor to perform their academic duties in an ethical manner.


2.1       The following definitions of cheating and plagiarism shall apply to all work submitted by a student, whether instruction is face-to-face, fully-online, hybrid, or any other mode. Any change or refinement in the following definitions or applications of the definitions, necessitated by the nature of the work involved, shall be made by the faculty member or departments desiring the change. Any change shall be announced, in writing, in the relevant classes before the work is assigned, and a copy of the changes will be filed in the department office and in the Office of Student Conduct and Ethical Development (OSCED).

2.2       Two groups may be involved in pursuing alleged cheating or plagiarism: the Office of Student Conduct and Ethical Development (OSCED) and the Academic Integrity Committee (AIC). The AIC reports an Opinion on whether or not cheating or plagiarism have taken place (see section 7 below); the OSCED determines whether a student is held “responsible” or “not responsible” from the point of view of the Division of Student Affairs (see section 6 below). A complete review of alleged cheating or plagiarism may involve both or only one of these groups.

2.3       The faculty member makes decisions with regard to assignments and grades (section 5 below), which the student may appeal to the Department Grade Appeals Committee independent of the review of cheating or plagiarism (section 8 below). The OSCED determines disciplinary actions with regard to the student (section 6 below).


3.1       Cheating is defined as the act of obtaining, trying to obtain, or helping someone else to obtain academic credit for work by using dishonest, deceptive, or fraudulent means. Examples of cheating, regardless of instructional mode, include but are not limited to:

  • copying from another student’s test or assignment;
  • unauthorized discussion of answers on an exam;
  • making, disseminating, or receiving copies of an exam without the instructor’s permission;
  • unauthorized use of notes in a “closed book” exam;
  • using online tools or services that are not authorized by the instructor;
  • taking an exam or participating in a course while posing as another student;
  • plagiarism.


4.1       Plagiarism is defined as the act of using the ideas or work of another person or persons as if they were one’s own, without giving credit to the source. Such an act is not plagiarism if it is ascertained that the ideas were arrived at through independent reasoning or logic or where the thought or idea is common knowledge.

Acknowledgement of an original author or source must be made through appropriate references, i.e., quotation marks, footnotes, or commentary. Both quoted and paraphrased materials must be given proper citations.

4.2       Self-plagiarism is generally defined as re-use of one’s own work for multiple assignments within one or multiple courses, or presenting previous work in another context without citing it as one’s own. It is recommended that faculty clearly indicate in their syllabi to what extent students may or may not re-use their own previously created work. In the absence of clear direction from the syllabus, students are advised to receive prior authorization from the instructor in any course before they re-use any portion of their own work.


(See the“Cheating and Plagiarism Policy Flow Chart” at the end of this page for a graphic illustration of the process described below.)

5.1       Charges of cheating and plagiarism must be brought against a student no more than 30 calendar days after the first instance discovered was due, submitted, or performed, whichever comes later. Upon discovery of one instance of cheating or plagiarism, a faculty member can reevaluate the student’s work for the entire semester, even if this work falls outside the 30 days.

5.2       The faculty member should have reasonable evidence, which may include documentary, video, personal observation, testimony, or other evidence. Prior cheating or plagiarism is not reasonable evidence.

5.2.1    Notes and evidence shall be kept by the department chair or program director and be accessible to the student for a minimum of seven years after the case is settled.

5.3       All notes and discussions between the student and the faculty member are confidential, except as may be relevant to the Academic Integrity Committee or in subsequent campus disciplinary proceedings.

5.4       Neither the faculty member nor the student(s) shall discuss a specific charge of cheating or plagiarism or any violations with reference to individuals in the classroom with other members of the class.

5.5       When a faculty member believes an incident of cheating or plagiarism may have happened, the faculty member shall arrange for a conference with the student as soon as possible, where they shall discuss the issues informally and review courses of action. In arranging the conference, the faculty member shall inform the student(s) in writing of the existence of this policy. At the conference, the student shall be notified by the faculty member of the charge and supporting evidence. 

5.5.1    In cases where more than one student is suspected of cheating or plagiarism, the faculty member may decide to call the students to confer jointly as a group, or as individuals. If the faculty member decides to confer with the students as a group, the students shall have the option to also confer with the instructor separately as individuals.

5.5.2    In order to establish facts of the student’s knowledge or skill, the faculty member may ask the student to provide such additional demonstration of competency as the faculty member deems necessary to evaluate scholarship and academic performance. The faculty member must advise the student that a decision to provide an opportunity for such an additional demonstration of competency is entirely at the faculty member’s option, but that the student may choose whether or not to comply with the request. Neither compliance nor non-compliance shall be considered an admission of cheating or plagiarism.

5.6       After the faculty member confers with the student(s), or makes a documented effort to do so, the faculty member may:

  1. decide not to pursue issue further, ending the process; or
  2. pursue the issue further by completing and submitting the online Academic Integrity Form, which is forwarded to the Office of Student Conduct and Ethical Development (OSCED) as well as to Academic Programs and Enrollment Services within Academic Affairs. The form should identify the student who was found responsible, the general nature of the offense, the action taken, and a recommendation as to whether or not additional action should be considered by the OSCED.

5.6.1    The faculty member may take one or more of the following actions (and shall indicate it on the Academic Integrity Form):

  1. No action;
  2. Request a Written Opinion from the Academic Integrity Committee (AIC);
  3. Require the student(s) to repeat the assignment;
  4. Reduce the student’s/students’ grade on the assignment, or assign a score of 0 (zero) on the specific assignment; 
  5. Assign the student(s) a failing or reduced final grade in course. 
  6. Assign a grade of “I” when the student(s) cannot be contacted and therefore the informal conference cannot be held, as is sometimes the case after final examination.

5.6.2    The faculty member shall notify student(s) of their decision within fourteen calendar days. If the faculty member assigns the student(s) a D, F, or NC as their final grade in the course, the faculty member may inform Enrollment Services that this grade is the result of a finding of academic dishonesty. In that case, Academic Senate PS 09-05, Repetition of Courses, applies: “Grade forgiveness [aka Repeat/Delete] shall not be applicable to courses for which the original grade was the result of a finding of academic dishonesty.” In other words, if the student(s) retake(s) the course the new grade will be averaged with the previous grade.

5.6.3    If the student(s) accept(s) the faculty member’s decision, they shall confirm their acceptance of the decision on the Academic Integrity Form within fourteen calendar days. If the student does not confirm their acceptance, the case shall be pursued by OSCED.

5.6.4    If the student(s) do(es) not accept the faculty member’s decision within fourteen calendar days, they may request a review by the AIC. The AIC investigation shall take place before the OSCED investigates the allegation. The process and charge of the AIC are described below, in Section 7.

5.6.5    If this process prevents the student from registering for the subsequent semester or from a prescribed sequence of courses, declaring a major or completing their degree, the student can request an expedited appeal to the AIC.


6.1       The OSCED shall receive copies of all Academic Integrity Forms. The OSCED shall pursue the allegation, unless faculty member or student(s) request a review from the AIC. If such a request is made, the OSCED shall wait for the AIC’s Opinion (see section 7) before pursuing the allegation. 

6.2     The OSCED shall follow the timelines described in Executive Order 1098. Currently, EO 1098 states that the OSCED has 10 business days from the date it receives the form from the faculty member to notify a student about the documented incident and to schedule a conduct conference. After reviewing the matter, the OSCED holds the student “responsible” or “not responsible.” The OSCED shall inform the faculty member that a decision has been made, though OSCED will not convey the actual decision.

6.2.1     If the OSCED holds the student(s) “not responsible,” no further action is taken.  

6.2.2    If the OSCED holds the student(s) “responsible,” the office may recommend one of the following actions, pursuant to the authority provided in Section 41301 of Title 5 of the California Administrative Code.’

  1. No further action;
  2. Educational measure for the student(s) involved;
  3. Disciplinary probation of the student(s) involved;
  4. Suspension of the student(s) involved; (e) Expulsion of the student(s) involved.

6.2.3    The OSCED may not change a grade for an assignment or a course. If the student(s) wish to challenge a grade after the determination of the OSCED, they can pursue a grade appeal (see section 8 below). 3

6.3 Opportunities for appeal regarding the sanctions applied by the Vice President for Student Affairs are provided for students involved in the proceedings as outlined by Executive Order 1098.

6.4 The Vice President for Student Affairs shall report annually to the Chair of the Academic Senate a summary of the charges concerning cheating and plagiarism brought before the Office of Student Conduct and Ethical Development.


7.1       Membership and Charge

7.1.1    The Chair of the Academic Senate appoints and the Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs (or designee) convenes an AIC for the University. During the academic year, the AIC shall consist of:

  • one member from the student body, chosen by the Associated Students Inc., for a oneyear term of office;
  • three members of the full-time faculty from three different colleges, each with a term of office of two years, terms of office expiring in alternate years; and
  • one member of the Office of Academic Affairs, who shall be Chair, voting only in case of ties. During the winter and summer session, the AIC shall consist of:

  • the ASI president or designee (if available);
  • three full-time faculty members from the Executive Committee of the Academic Senate;
  • one member of the Office of Academic Affairs, who shall be Chair, voting only in case of ties.

7.1.2 The primary charge of the AIC is to receive the requests of students accused of cheating or plagiarism or the requests of faculty accusing specified student(s) of cheating or plagiarism. Following its review of the evidence, the AIC shall report in writing its Opinion to the student(s) and to the faculty member involved on whether the accusation is supported by the evidence. This Opinion may not be appealed. However, when new evidence appears to so warrant, a faculty member or student may ask, in writing, the Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs (or designee) or the Chair of the Academic Senate to request the AIC to reconsider a case.

7.1.3     To preserve the rights of privacy, all AIC meetings shall be closed.

7.1.4    In all cases, an Opinion of the AIC is advisory to the student, with whom rests the presumption of innocence, and the faculty member, to whom the decision on the evidence and academic action is reserved.

7.1.5    The AIC is to report on its actions annually to the Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs (or designee) and the Chair of the Academic Senate.

7.2        Review Process

7.2.1    A faculty member or student who requests a review of the evidence in a case of alleged cheating or plagiarism must make such a request to the AIC in writing no later than 14 calendar days following the date of first notification of the student by the faculty member of the allegation. Except under extenuating circumstances, the student and faculty member will have no more than 14 additional calendar days to provide evidence to the Committee. 

7.2.2    In cases where more than one student is suspected of cheating or plagiarism, the AIC may decide to review the students’ case(s) jointly as a group, or as individuals. If the AIC decides to review students’ case(s) as a group, the students shall have the option to request that their case(s) be reviewed separately, as individuals.

7.2.3    After reviewing documentation provided by the student(s) and the faculty member, the AIC will issue an Opinion on the matter and communicate it to the faculty member, student(s), and OSCED. If the Opinion of the AIC is not in alignment with the decision of the faculty member, the student(s) may use the Opinion to ask the faculty member to change their grade, or as evidence in a grade appeal. 

7.2.4     The AIC may request additional information as may be appropriate to the development of its Opinions. The AIC shall provide a final Opinion within 21 calendar days of the submission of a request to it. Should additional time be required, the reasons should be communicated to the Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs (or designee) and the Chair of the Academic Senate as well as the student(s) and faculty members involved.


8.1       Student(s) may also appeal a final course grade to the appropriate grade appeals committee, when they have received a reduction of score on an examination, other test of competence or final course grade due to cheating and/or plagiarism. Students may only appeal on the grounds outlined in the University’s Policy on Grade Appeals Procedures (PS-11-09).

8.1.1    While not required, it is often recommended that the student(s) request that the AIC evaluate the matter before it is reviewed by the grade appeals committee. The AIC’s membership, charge and review process is described above, in Section 7. A grade appeal may include, as written testimony, the Opinion of the AIC. Because of that, the grade appeal shall be filed after the AIC issues its decision if the student(s) intend(s) to ask for a review by the AIC.

EFFECTIVE: Immediately


Please note: The chart below is a summary of the policy above. For details on each step, please refer to the content of the policy. 

A more accessible version of this table is available: Academic Integrity (DOC), Academic Integrity (PDF)

Academic Integrity Flowchart as described in the policy text