Michigan Tech considers new ways of cracking down on academic integrity violators

Eric Goulet

The Undergraduate Student Government (USG) met this past Wednesday, Oct. 26. The agenda for the week focused on a variety of topics, although one in particular stood out. that  Robert Bishop, the Director of Academic Misconduct for the Office of Academic and Community Conduct, led the conversation for this topic. He discussed the changes that students may see in the way academic integrity violations are detected and handled on the Michigan Tech Campus. This may include a variety of changes, including but not limited to an honor code and an academic integrity pledge. 

During the USG meeting, Bishop spoke about the ways that Tech is trying to quell the vast increase in academic integrity violations that began with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Bishop mentioned that they began the initiatives in Fall of 2020 due to the rising number of integrity violations, referencing that Tech saw an 80% increase in violations in the 2020 – 2021 school year. 

This is not unique to Michigan Tech though, as many universities around the world saw large increases in the number of academic integrity violations when classes went fully remote during the pandemic. Regardless of the fact that the pandemic’s effects on the academic community have largely subsided, there has only been a 20% decrease in violations during the 2021 – 2022 school year. 

Some initiatives that Bishop’s office is considering include a push to educate students, faculty, and staff about academic integrity across campus These include the implementation of an assessment plan, the establishing of an honor code, the use of a bot to detect online violations, and the implementation of an academic integrity pledge, to name a few. The implementation of an honor code and pledge seem to be the most likely options, but research is still being done to determine which route would have the best result for the Tech community.

 Bishop stated that “with a pledge system, you can celebrate the success you are having, like going before the husky statue and taking the pledge there,”. If an honor code were to be implemented it would likely result in a much stricter policy with harsher outcomes for violators and potential punishment for witnesses of misconduct who don’t speak up. 

The USG sent out a survey to students on Monday, Oct. 31 to help gauge public opinion on the potential changes, so students are encouraged to participate and express their opinion. During the meeting Bishop expressed that the decision is not yet made and they’re still weighing their options. Bishop says that ultimately, they are just gathering information so that the Board of Trustees can make the final decision. He stated “we are exploring whether or not we should have [an honor code], some faculty think we should have it here. I want to see whether we should have it, we need to assess the campus culture to see whether or not it is a fit,”. 

Overall, this decision will affect the Tech community in a number of ways, but all that can be done by students right now is complete the survey and wait to see the outcome of the decision. More information can be found at the USG office in MUB 113, as well as the USG general body meetings, which are held every Wednesday from 7 p.m. – 9 p.m. in the MUB Alumni Lounges B and C.