Academic misconduct charges skyrocket

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By Vanessa Greco and Carys Mills

Academic misconduct charges at Ryerson increased by over 40 per cent in one year, revealed a freedom of information request filed by The Eyeopener.

Last year, there were 359 misconduct offences found on campus, most of which were plagiarism. The year before saw only 256.

Stephen Satris, former interim director of the Center for Academic Integrity at Clemsen University, said this could be just the tip of the iceberg.

“The number might seem low, but these are just the students that are being caught.”

Donna Bell, Ryerson’s academic integrity officer, agrees that many misconduct offences go undetected.

“Are some students getting away with things? Absolutely. Are some things being swept under the rug? Absolutely.”

Bell adds that she’d have no way of accurately detecting the actual number of students commiting offences.

When a student is suspected of violating school policy, they’re asked to sit down with the instructor who suspects misconduct. During that meeting the instructor will decide if a charge is worth pursuing. Last year, almost 700 of these meetings took place. Only half resulted in charges.

Some students don’t get off the hook. If an instructor decides to charge the student, they’ll be notified and given the chance to appeal to the Academic Integrity Council – made up of two faculty members and a student unrelated to the case.

But students can also appeal the decision made at the Academic Integrity Council hearing. At that point, the case goes to Ryerson’s Senate, who’ll have the final word.

Almost one month into the school year, there’s already one academic misconduct hearing scheduled.

Satris believes that how students interpret the value of their education can influence their behaviour in university.

“Their parents and teachers tend to emphasize getting good grades rather than learning.”

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