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Honor Council

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it still considered plagiarism if I forget to cite a source in the body of text but include it in my bibliography? If so, how severe of a violation is it?

It IS considered plagiarism if you forget to cite a source in the body of the text but include it in the bibliography. Why? Neglecting to cite a source within the text of your paper means that your readers assume that the not cited words within the body of the paper are your own. For example, if you wrote a philosophy paper but forgot to cite a philosopher whose ideas you discuss, your professor (who has a PhD in philosophy) would realize that the un-cited ideas were not actually your own and would suspect plagiarism. Even if you included the philosopher in the bibliography, your professor does not know the location of the source within your paper. Proofread, proofread, proofread! Try to give yourself at least one day in between writing a paper and turning it in so that you don't accidentally plagiarize.

If I tell a campus police officer that I am 21 when I am really underage, am I violating the Honor Code?

Yes, lying about your age to campus police violates the Honor Code, because the Code states that you will not "lie, cheat, or steal." Be honest. Lying to campus police or any other campus official including your RA violates the Honor Code and leads to an Honor Council or Social Council Hearing.

Who will know about my appearance before the Honor Council/Who should I tell?

The Council, the Dean of Students, and any witnesses are the only people who will know about your appearance before the Honor Council. The hearings are completely confidential and you should not tell any people unrelated to the possible violation about your case, which would be a violation of the Honor Code.

Will the fact that I went to Honor Council be on my permanent record?

If found in violation and a sanction of suspension or expulsion is applied, the sanction will be noted on your record. Individuals can petition the President of the College to have the notation removed, however such removal is never guaranteed and will not occur prior to an individual’s graduation. You should contact the advisor to the Honor Council for more details and answers to specific questions regarding this issue.

Where can a complete copy of the BSC Honor Code be found?

A complete copy of the BSC Honor Code can be found in the Student Handbook. Student Handbooks are giving out upon arrival at BSC and additional copies are available in the Student Services building or online under the Student Development link.

Is the use of test files against the Honor Code?

The use of test files is not against the Honor Code unless it is prohibited by the professor administering the test.

How is the Council selected?

The Honor Council is composed of fifteen members: 3 seniors, 3 juniors, 3 sophomore, and 6 "at-large" members with no regard to class distinction. The student government association (SGA) selects the Council with recommendations from graduating Honor Council members. Each applicant must complete two case studies, which are scored anonymously. No one from the SGA may be eligible for selection to the Honor Council. The SGA fills any vacancies on the Council if they arise.

What are all the possible sanctions the Council may propose?

The Council has numerous sanctions at its disposal. The Council can move to expel, suspend, or place students on probation. The Council can also decide that the offender should not be allowed to represent the College in any official capacity. Besides these core penalties, the Council can recommend other sanctions such as mandatory visits to the writing center, letters of apology to affected faculty members, or counseling sessions.

Can I compare answers with a friend on a take home test?

No. Unless otherwise specified by the professor, take-home exams are to be completed individually as any other graded assignment would be. Sharing answers on a graded assignment is in violation of the Honor Code, whether it happens in or out of class.

Do I have to cite Internet sources?

Yes. Any time you use someone else's words, ideas, or data, you must cite it. Although web content may seem less formal than other academic publications, it still requires citation. It is, at times, difficult to pinpoint authorship of web content, so if you have trouble determining how to cite web content, you should seek help.

How do I appropriately report a violation of the honor code?

If the violation involves class work, you should report the violation to the professor. Report any other type of violation to the President of the Honor Council or the Dean of Students. Remember that failure to report a violation of the Honor Code is itself a violation.

How does a professor find out about or realize an Honor Code violation?

Professors are experts in their fields of study and therefore can easily pick out suspicious activity on class assignments, tests, or papers. Often, a plagiarized paper will sound too advanced for an undergraduate student or will contain language structure/style atypical of a certain student. In the case of cheating, professors notice similarities between students' test papers or homework assignments. Students are sometimes caught in the act of cheating by another student during in-class exams or on homework assignments.

How do I know if I am plagiarizing?

If your writing expresses someone else's words, ideas, or data without proper citation, you are probably plagiarizing. Sometimes this happens accidentally. If you question the validity of your work, DO NOT HESITATE to seek help from your professor BEFORE the writing assignment is due!!! Birmingham-Southern professors are very open to questions. If a professor sees problems with your writing before it's due, he or she will point you in the right direction.

Does the Honor Code apply to homework assignments?

Yes, homework assignments are just as covered by the Honor Code as tests and papers. Regardless of the weight of the assignment relative to overall course grade, the Honor Code covers ALL types of academic assignments. The Class II system passed by the Student Government Association would most likely be the way to handle a violation of the Honor Code on a homework assignment. While the violation is as serious as any other violation of the Honor Code, a homework assignment violation in most cases does not go to a full hearing.

If your high school had an Honor Code you will probably have a better understanding of how an honor code works, although be extra careful at learning how Birmingham-Southern's is different. Most people will find the BSC Honor Code to be more expansive and to have greater effect. If you did not go to a high school with an Honor Code or did not have as extensive of training in source citation, visits to the Writing Center are highly recommended.

Students find the Honor Code to be something that will be of great value to them after graduation. Graduate schools and employers know that when they admit/hire a Birmingham-Southern graduate that the education he or she received was fully earned.

If I am writing my paper and have a question as whether a particular section, line, or idea is mis-cited or mis-quoted, who is the first person I should talk to?

Your professor. The best advice though is to take due care to ensure that you leave yourself plenty of time to complete an assignment so that you have plenty of time to consult with your professor if a question arises. Birmingham-Southern professors are very willing to help students with all varieties of issues. If you are having a problem with something, professors are the best resources. The Writing Center is also a great resource if you find yourself having questions or problems. With that said, please be respectful of your professor's time and schedule a time to meet with your professor individually if that is the best course of action. The Writing Center requires appointments.

The most common reason that Council members hear for having plagiarized an assignment is lack of time. You are putting undue pressure on yourself if you wait until the last minute to complete and assignment and do not have time to ask questions of professors or make use of other resources, especially in your first year. Make use of your planner, do assignments ahead of time, and if you think you need to plagiarize something to get it done on time, you would be better off not turning the assignment in. You are risking a lot more than your grade on that particular assignment. Some professors will give an extension if you serious concerns about your ability to complete an assignment, because of tests or papers in other classes or some serious personal problem that is going on. Even if you are granted an extension once, do not expect this all the time and stay on top of your studies.