Rules, if not enforced, lose their value—so is true of an academic integrity policy. I recently interviewed a university professor, we’ll call him Professor Thomas (not his real name), who followed his university’s sanction policies as written and intended, and found himself reprimanded by faculty colleagues for doing so. As a result Thomas took the initiative to try and change a strict and rigid policy, into one that offered flexibility, remediation, and learning.
The sanction guidelines for undergraduates were straightforward—the first offense was a zero on the assignment, the second offense was a failure in the course, the third offense was suspension for one full semester, the fourth resulted in suspension for two semesters, and beyond that was permanent expulsion. The guidelines were even more strict for graduate-level students, whereby the first offense resulted in failure in the course, and a second offense would result in expulsion.
Last year, Professor Thomas had nine instances of plagiarism out of 28 students on the first assignment in a graduate level course—they ranged from very minor (a cited, but non-quoted, copied sentence) to quite serious (multiple paragraphs) cases. Thomas reported all nine cases to the academic integrity committee per the policy.