Frequently Asked Questions
If I do not sign the pledge or word it incorrectly on an
assignment, am I safe from an Honor System violation?
- No, all assignments must be pledged. If the pledge is
not present, either the professor or the Honor Board will
give you the opportunity to sign it. A refusal to do this
is treated as an admission of guilt.
Is it acceptable to use a stamp of the pledge in lieu of
writing it out?
- Using a prewritten stamp or electronic text is considered
to be an adequate substitute for physically writing out
the Honor Pledge as long as there is a valid signature.
Should tutors or classmates be listed as references on homework
- Yes. When the professor allows collaboration, even working
with classmates counts as aid and must be referenced on
My professor claims I was cheating and decided to fail me.
What should I do?
- Immediately report the case to the Honor Board. Every
student has the right to have his/her accused violations
be investigated by the Honor Board. The only case where
the professor can ever investigate violations is a faculty
adjudication (see below).
What is a “faculty adjudication”? What is the 13% rule?
- If the professor or TA suspects you committed an
Honor System violation on an assignment that is worth less than
13% of your grade, then the professor can approach you about
his or her suspicions and render a penalty for the violation from
within our Penalty Matrix, rather than submitting it to
the Honor Board for a formal investigation.
My professor approached me regarding a faculty adjudication,
but I’m innocent or the penalty is way too high. Can the Honor
- Yes. As long as you did not sign agreeing to the penalty,
you can report your case to the Honor Board, at which point
it is out of the professor’s hands.
I think I saw my classmate cheating during an exam, but
I’m not sure. Should I report it, and if so, how?
- Yes, even if you’re not sure, it’s your responsibility
to report anything you see. The Honor Board will investigate
further and determine if there is evidence of a violation.
You can report all violations on the Honor System website
by clicking “Report a Violation”.
I am being investigated for an Honor System violation. Am
I allowed to consult with my friend who is on the Honor Board.
- Any case details must be restricted to conversation
with the investigative committee assigned to the case. However,
a DA will be assigned to your case to answer any questions
you may have about how the Honor System operates.
What’s the difference between “unauthorized aid”, “plagiarism”,
“lack of referencing”, “copying answers”, and “prohibited collaboration”?
- A proper assignment or exam is one where only authorized
aid was used and all aid was used properly and cited/referenced.
Unauthorized aid is when you use aid that was specifically
not allowed by the professor or TA. Plagiarism is when you
are using authorized aid improperly by copying directly
and trying to pass it off as your own work. Lack of referencing
is when you use authorized aid properly but forget to cite
it on your assignment. As for copying answers and prohibited
collaboration, they are the same as plagiarism and unauthorized
aid, respectively, and are just different terms used for
homework assignments and exams.
As an undergraduate student, am I protected by the Honor
System in my graduate courses?
- No, any graduate course taken is subject to the policy on
academic improprieties contained in the Graduate Handbook.
What is a removable academic sanction, and how can it be
- An academic sanction is a transcript mark indicating
that you performed an Honor System violation. If the Honor
Board decides to assign a removable academic sanction, you
can remove the transcript mark by completing either an essay(s)
or the ethics course over a certain period of time. If you
successfully complete the essay(s) or ethics course in the
allotted period of time, the mark will be automatically
Once an academic sanction is removed, is there any trace
that I had it?
- No, but there is still a record of you committing an
Honor System violation. If another institution or company
contacts Stevens and requests if there are any reports in
your file, the fact that you committed an Honor System violation
will be disclosed regardless of whether or not you have
an Academic Sanction.
What is the Ethics Course?
- The Ethics Course is an Honor Board-created independent
study course that allows students to remove academic sanctions
by completing a variety of tasks. The tasks range from writing
essays to reading books to attending ASC seminars. See the
Ethics Course manual for more information. You may only
use the Ethics Course to remove an academic sanction if
the Honor Board allows you to do so.
Can I appeal my Honor Board investigation after I confessed/was
- Yes. No matter how the investigation ends, you may appeal
your case to the Academic Appeals committee if you believe:
a) the Honor Board did not properly follow procedure; or
b) the penalty assigned is too harsh. Additionally, you
may even appeal the decision of the Academic Appeals committee
to the Provost, who has the final say.
What are some examples of penalties the Honor Board assigns?
- Honor Board penalties usually fall into three categories:
grade changes, academic sanctions, and suspensions/expulsions.
Grade changes can range from partial credit on the affected
assignment to a failure in the course. See above for what
an academic sanction is. For long-term consistency, the
Honor Board references the Penalty Matrix available on the
website whenever voting upon a penalty. The Honor Board
usually assigns penalties within the ranges listed in the
Are there any benefits to confessing if I know I cheated?
- Yes. When the Honor Board votes, they take both mitigating
and aggravating factors into consideration. Mitigating factors
include but are not limited to prompt responses to Honor
Board communications, cooperation throughout the investigation,
immediate admission of guilt, and apologizing for the violation
that occurred. Aggravating factors include but are not limited
to intentionally delaying the investigation and being uncooperative
throughout the investigation.
Should I confess if I am innocent?
- No. Even though confessing is sometimes a quick way
out, you should only ever confess to an Honor System violation
if you actually committed the violation. This student run
system is in place to protect your rights.
If I caught a student obviously cheating on an exam, does
it have to be reported to the Honor Board? What if they are
already failing the class?
- Yes. All violations must be reported to the Honor Board,
no matter how obvious and regardless of the student’s current
or projected grade in the class. The only exception is faculty
adjudication (see below), and even then the result of the
adjudication must be submitted to the Honor Board. The reason
being that a record needs to be kept of all violations to
be sure that recurring violations are treated with the proper
If a student confesses to me about cheating on an exam,
why can I not simply give them a zero?
- Stevens believes in a fair system such that a student
caught cheating not only has the right to an investigation
and hearing, but also that he/she will receive a similar
penalty as other students who committed the the same violation
in the past. Because of this, all violations must be investigated
and penalized through the Honor Board, regardless of the
When can I submit a suspected violation as a Faculty Adjudication?
- Faculty Adjudications are reserved only for small assignments,
defined as anything worth 13 percent or less of the final
grade in the course.
How do I perform a faculty adjudication?
- Download the faculty adjudication form from the Honor
Board’s website and fill it out. Make sure to add the student’s
name, the violation, and the penalty. The penalty *must*
be within the guidelines set by the Honor Board’s penalty
matrix. Then meet with the student and ask them about the
suspected violation. If they sign the faculty adjudication
form admitting to the violation and agreeing to the penalty,
you can then send it in to the Honor Board through e-mail
to firstname.lastname@example.org or hand it in to one of our advisors,
Dean Berkley on the 10th floor of Howe or Kurtis Watkins
on the 7th floor of Howe.
What happens if a student does not sign my faculty adjudication
- If a student refuses to sign, either because they deny
the violation or they think the penalty is too harsh, you
should report the violation to the Honor Board as if it
was a traditional violation, i.e., not a faculty adjudication.
The Honor Board will perform a thorough investigation and
assign a penalty if the student confesses or is convicted.
Where should I be during an exam?
- Since the Honor System does not allow proctoring, you
cannot be actively observing the exam. There are some cases
where it is allowable to be in the exam room, but the best
option is to just wait in a nearby office or other room
for the duration of the exam. Make sure students know where
you will be and remain available for any students who were
given valid extensions for the exam’s ending time.
It has come to my attention that some students in the class
have a substantial collection of previous year’s tests. What
do you recommend?
- Regardless of any efforts to prevent students from passing
along old exams to their subsequent classmates, it is inevitable
that some will surface. Therefore, the Honor Board recommends
making these exams available to all students. By doing this,
it levels the playing field for the entire class. The Honor
Board also strongly advocates professors not using the same
test multiple times.