Office of Student Affairs

Repercussions of Plagiarism

Instructors who suspect that a student has committed an act of academic dishonesty in one of their classes, are expected to report their suspicions to the Office of Student Affairs after they have had a discussion with the student. In cases in which there is a clearly demonstrated infraction—that is, in which there is unambiguous and conclusive evidence of plagiarism or cheating and no disagreement on the facts of the case—the instructor will determine the appropriate penalty in conjunction with the Dean of Student Conduct. The Dean of Student Conduct may impose any penalty up to suspension for one semester; the normal penalty for a first offense of academic dishonesty is disciplinary probation until graduation. The instructor has the discretion to impose a penalty on the student’s course grade. The normal recommended penalty for an act of academic dishonesty is failure in the course.

If the evidence in the case is ambiguous and adjudication is necessary to determine the student’s guilt or innocence, the case will be referred to the Committee on Discipline and a formal hearing will be held. The Committee will determine the student’s guilt or innocence, and, if the student is found guilty, will also determine all penalties except for the grade penalty. The Committee may recommend a grade penalty, but imposition of that penalty will be at the discretion of the instructor of the course. Similarly, if the student has previously committed an act of academic dishonesty and the current allegation represents a second offense, the case must come before a formal hearing of the Committee on Discipline whether the facts of the case are in dispute or not. The normal minimum penalty for a second offense of academic dishonesty is suspension from the College for a year.

Disciplinary probation is a strong formal warning that further infractions of the Amherst College Honor Code will lead to suspension, dismissal, or expulsion from the College. Suspension, dismissal and expulsion are always entered permanently on the transcript.

Students with questions about the disciplinary process for cases of academic dishonesty should speak with Dean Susie Mitton Shannon, Assistant Dean of Students and Student Conduct/Title IX Deputy Coordinator.