Brief Overview #
At a high level, the overall process is simple. If you violated course policies, you admit so and we reach a swift resolution. However, if you did not violate course policy, or you are not sure if you violated course policies, you can request adjudication where you get a chance to hear our case and explain your situation.
If you did engage in academic misconduct, please do not waste our time or yours by trying to get out of negative consequences. It probably won’t work and it’s unethical.
For those of you want more details on the process, read further. However, you shouldn’t need these details to decide what to do.
About Academic Misconduct #
Given how very hard so many people in 61BL work for what they achieve, we must pursue academic misconduct cases very seriously, and without much mercy.
However, we also don’t want to derail your undergraduate plans for a single, albeit serious, mistake. This is particularly true today in the era of the 3.3 GPA cutoff and pandemic.
For those of you who did engage in academic misconduct: we understand that the pressure is very high at Berkeley, and that under this pressure, you may have done something you wouldn’t usually do. This is not a reflection on who you are as a person, but nonetheless, we must administer sanctions to maintain the integrity of the department. We hope you will learn from this experience and that it does not cause you too much grief.
In 61BL, there are four possible sanctions in response to academic misconduct, divided into two categories: Point Penalties and Office of Student Conduct Referrals.
Point Penalties #
- Failing grade.
- Receiving a point penalty.
Office of Student Conduct Referrals #
- Non-Reportable Warning (NRW) from the Office of Student Conduct (OSC).
- Reportable warning from the OSC.
The following section describes what each of these mean. The section after that describes the process by which sanctions are assigned.
Description of Sanctions #
Failing Grade (Grade Penalty Type 1) #
This grade penalty is typically assessed if you cheat on an exam or have two or more violations on projects, HWs, or labs. However, it can be assessed in other circumstances as described in the “Process” portion of this document.
Failing the course will impact your GPA. If you retake 61B(L), your original grade will be replaced with your new grade. However, even if you retake the course, the failing grade will be factored into your 61A/61B(L)/70 GPA for purposes of declaring the major, effectively rendering it impossible to enter the major.
If you are already on academic probation or are in danger of losing some sort of scholarship or financial aid, then unfortunately this may significantly impact your life. However, dismissal is not permanent. If this is your situation, please contact the staff immediately so we can advise you on how to proceed.
Point Penalty (Grade Penalty Type 2) #
This grade penalty is given for plagiarism on a HW, lab, or project. The exact point penalty will vary depending on the assignment and severity of academic misconduct.
Non-Reportable Warning (NRW) (Warning Type 1) #
The Office of Student Conduct will issue a formal warning to you that “violation of specified University policies or campus regulations has occurred and that continued or repeated violations of University policies or campus regulations may be cause for further disciplinary action.”
Such warnings are completely private, and will not be observable to anybody outside the OSC, or as they put it “records of non-reportable warnings are maintained only for in-house reference in case of subsequent violations.” This warning will not affect your ability to declare yourself as a CS major, and will not appear on any documents (including transcripts, financial aid, a letter to your parents) whatsoever.
Such warnings are called Non-Reportable Warnings (NRW). A second NRW in 61B(L) or another course will likely result in temporary or even permanent dismissal from the university.
See the code of conduct for more.
Reportable Warning (Warning Type 2) #
A reportable warning is similar to a non-reportable warning, except that it is “maintained as part of the student’s conduct record.” We are not sure of any further distinctions. Please contact the Office of Student Conduct for more information.
The Process #
In order to resolve each case, we must establish two things: the facts of your case, and the appropriate sanction (if any). The 61BL academic misconduct process follows up to three phases, described below.
Phase 1: Option Selection #
In order to streamline the process, we provide a low-friction way for you to admit engaging in academic misconduct, with clear sanctions. We provide a form that you can fill out to provide your input on the case:
- Option 1: You accept that you allowed another student to have a copy of your work (either directly or inadvertently) and sign the faculty disposition form. You will receive a point penalty and will be referred to the Office of Student Conduct for an NRW, with a special note from the instructors that this was a very minor violation. Optionally, you may meet with the instructors, though this will not prevent an OSC warning. This penalty applies even if you simply posted your code somewhere publicly, e.g. a public Github repository.
- Option 2: You accept that you submitted work that was not your own for a grade, and sign the faculty disposition form. You receive a more severe point penalty on the assignment and will be referred to the Office of Student Conduct for an NRW. Optionally, you may meet with the instructors, though this will not prevent an OSC warning.
- Option 3: You are unsure if / do not believe your case constitutes academic misconduct, and express a desire to enter the adjudication phase (see next section). You must schedule a meeting with the instructors to determine the facts of your case (internal adjudication). You should NOT select this option if you are sure that you violated course policies.
To determine what option to enter, please review the course collaboration policies. Feel free to contact us at email@example.com for advice on options.
For Option 1 and 2, the point penalty and NRW are the maximum penalties possible.
For any case involving a group of students with matching code, the choices of all participants will be rejected if there is no student who accepts they plagiarised (Option 2). In other words, if everybody claims Option 1, we will invalidate all of these choices (and thus re-enter Phase 1).
If one student in a plagiarism case requests adjudication, then all members involved might need to meet at once with the instructors to establish the facts of the case.
If you are truly believe that you did not engage in academic misconduct, please submit Option 3 above. We are very serious about ensuring that nobody is wrongly penalized!
If you aren’t sure which option to enter, please email the instructors for additional information.
Phase 2: Internal Adjudication #
If you request adjudication (Option 3), we will hold a meeting between you and ALL involved parties at the same time. During this meeting, we will attempt to establish the facts of your case, as well as an appropriate sanction.
We ask that if you come to adjudication, that you conduct yourself honestly. Attempts to be deceptive will be met very harshly.
From here, there are four potential results for each person, determined independently.
- R1: We determine that you did not engage in academic misconduct. The process ends.
- R2: You deny that you engaged in academic misconduct, but we still think you did. We then move to Phase 3 (External Adjudication).
- R3: We determine that you have overcollaborated in a way that violates the course policy, but is not egregious, or that you have given someone else your code. Copying any part of another student’s code is considered egregious. You will receive a point penalty, and you will receive an NRW from the OSC.
- R4: We determine that you have committed an egregious violation of the course policies, e.g. submitting work that is not your own. You will receive a more severe point penalty on that assignment, and you will receive an NRW from the OSC.
Phase 3: External Adjudication #
If we are unable to come to an agreement in Phase 2, we will refer your case to the Office of Student Conduct. They will conduct their own investigation, and resolve your case through their own process.
Note that sanctions are likely to be more severe if the OSC determines you engaged in academic misconduct, possibly including a Reportable Warning, which will become a part of your official student record.
The process is described in the flowcharts below. A NRW is a non-reportable warning from the OSC. “Option validation” refers to the process of ensuring that not everyone in the group has claimed “Option 1”, which is impossible. The exact point penalties will vary with the extent of misconduct.
We hope this process is fair and encourages you to establish a more solid foundation as you move forwards with your future in CS. If you are indeed guilty, do not feel that you are somehow a tainted person! Painful though it may be now, we hope that you will instead someday reflect on this process as ultimately enriching, as it helps build you into being more resistant to taking the easy low road in future times of great duress.
This policy is subject to minor revisions and should not be considered set in stone.