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Washington State University Graduate School

Integrity in the Classroom

By Adam Jussel

At the heart of every incident of plagiarism is a question of integrity—whether the student will violate moral and ethical standards, taking on the risk of getting caught, being marked as a cheater, all for the perceived benefit of getting a good grade. Students who choose to take these risks pirate from their fellow classmates, colleagues, faculty, and the academy.  Ultimately, it is the shared responsibility of students and faculty to understand the academic integrity process and policy at WSU and to adhere to it strictly.


Plagiarism Defined

At this stage in your academic career, it’s likely you understand the broad definition of plagiarism: representing other’s work as your own. WSU specifically prohibits plagiarism, which is defined in theStandards of Conduct for Students as “[p]resenting the information, ideas, or phrasing of another person as the student’s own work without proper acknowledgment of the source.” WAC 504-26-010(i).

WSU Academic Integrity Policy

There are a number of reasons why the University community is concerned about academic integrity, and plagiarism specifically.  Initially, students cheat themselves out of learning if they plagiarize. There are significant funds and sweat equity poured into your education—both by you and by the institution—and cheating devalues the benefits derived from that transaction. Also, it affects the reputation of our institution. Dishonesty diminishes the worth of the WSU diploma and your work as a graduate or teaching assistant. Furthermore, if you work diligently to complete your own work without cheating, any cheating by your colleagues minimizes the value of your own work and potential for a good mark. Finally, academic dishonesty falsely indicates that those who steal can succeed behind the veneer of flawed expertise.

Thus, WSU has a robust academic integrity policy and process contained within the Standards of Conduct for Students to respond to these concerns (WAC 504-26-404). The purpose of this policy is to educate students, uphold the integrity of the WSU academy, and facilitate ethical and moral behavior. The academic integrity process allows students an opportunity to respond to allegations of alleged misconduct, and a limited right to appeal to the Academic Integrity Hearing Board.  Specifically, any allegations of plagiarism and cheating require the responsible instructor to meet with the accused student and, if there is a violation, assign a sanction in accordance with the syllabus.  The faculty member is then required to make a report to the Office of Student Standards and Accountability for record keeping and to provide additional education to the student(s) involved.

As a student, you have rights within this process, including the right to be heard, the right to respond to any allegations, and the right to present your own defense. However, you also have the responsibility to know the policies and to practice within the institutional parameters.

The Rules of the Game

It is our institutional responsibility to proactively inform you of the appropriate standards so that you understand how to follow them.  To this end, it is important that you review the WSU Standards of Conduct for Students, which are available at You can find the academic integrity policies there, as well as at

Verified allegations of plagiarism could result in failing the course or assignment, referral to the Office of Student Standards and Accountability for additional educational sanctions, and a record of a violation of the academic integrity policies on file with the University.  In severe or repeat circumstances, violations of the University’s academic integrity policies could result in suspension or expulsion.

The best methods to avoid plagiarism are to ask faculty questions in advance, consult the WSU librarians, and to always do your own work. Any false representation of work as your own, when it is properly attributed to another, will cause a negative impact on you here at WSU and beyond.

Looking for more information on plagiarism and tools to check for it? Click here

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