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 and assignments?

  • Yes. When the professor allows collaboration, even working with classmates counts as aid and must be referenced on the assignment.

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 Board investigate?

  • 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 removed?

  • 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 removed.

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 found guilty?

  • 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 matrix.

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 magnitude.

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 circumstances.

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 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 form?

  • 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.
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