Student Conduct Code: Academic Integrity and General Misconduct

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Student Conduct Code: Academic Integrity and General Misconduct

Owner: Vice Provost for Student Affairs

URL: Conduct Code: Academic Integrity and General Misconduct Conduct Code: Academic Integrity and General Misconduct

Owner: Vice Provost for Student Affairs

Conduct Standard Defined/Statement of Public Order

Teachers College (TC or the College) expects members of the College community to observe traditional norms of scholarly discourse, academic integrity, and fairness. All members of the College community are expected to exhibit the high level of personal integrity which society must demand of professionals.

Teachers College insists on the greatest degree of freedom of inquiry, teaching, learning, and expression for all of its members. Thus, activities which disrupt the regular and essential operation of the College or Columbia University are not permitted.  For matters of gender-based misconduct involving students (listed below under General Misconduct 3.2.4) including sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking, the Gender-Based Misconduct Policy for Students found at is the student conduct code. 

Students or other members of the College community may charge students with violating these standards. Students found responsible for violating these standards of conduct may be subject to appropriate disciplinary action, ranging from reprimand to disciplinary probation, suspension or expulsion.

1. Definitions and Organization of the Disciplinary System

1.1 Student: For purposes of this Policy, any person enrolled in a degree program, a non-degree (non-matriculated or non-credit) course, including an online course, at Teachers College is a student. All persons taking courses or participating in activities at TC as students fall under the jurisdiction of the Student Conduct Code.   Students who allege academic integrity or general misconduct violations may be called complainants. Students accused of academic integrity or general misconduct violations under this Code may be called respondents.

1.2 Jurisdiction: This document addresses misconduct committed by students. Any alleged infraction that is committed by an individual while that person is a student or on the TC campus may be addressed under this Policy. If an accused student is enrolled at another institution, that student may also be referred to his or her primary institution at the discretion of TC. Students who also serve as TC employees may be subject to separate disciplinary proceedings by virtue of their employment status. TC has other policies that relate to staff and faculty as well as policies (such as the Policy on Protection from Harassment) that apply to all members in this community. Nothing in this Code shall prevent an investigation or discipline under other applicable College policies. 

Accusations of gender-based misconduct subject to the Columbia University Gender-Based Misconduct Policy for Students will be addressed under that policy rather than this Student Conduct Code.

1.3 Vice Provost for Student Affairs: The Vice Provost for Student Affairs has overall responsibility for overseeing proceedings and all matters related to the enforcement of this Policy. The Vice Provost for Student Affairs may identify a designee to carry out these responsibilities.

1.3.1 The duties of the Vice Provost for Student Affairs include determining whether complaints warrant referral to the SCC (Student Conduct Committee), resolving complaints by voluntary agreements, bringing charges of violations to the SCC for a disciplinary hearing, monitoring and enforcing the fulfillment of sanctions imposed, maintaining records of all disciplinary matters, providing administrative support for all aspects of the disciplinary process (including hearings), preparing reports, and compiling statistics. In cases of admission fraud, the Vice Provost for Student Affairs will work with the Office of Admission and other offices as necessary to discipline those who violated the College’s admission certification of accuracy statement.

1.4 Student Conduct Committee (SCC): The SCC is responsible for hearings related to alleged violations of this Policy by students.

1.4.1 The jurisdiction of the SCC extends to both areas of the TC disciplinary system: Academic Integrity and General Misconduct.

1.4.2 The SCC shall be comprised of three students, three professional staff members, and three faculty members. Its members shall serve staggered terms to ensure continuity as members of the SCC rotate on and off the Committee.

1.4.3 SCC hearings are conducted by a three-member panel of the SCC convened by the Vice Provost for Student Affairs or designee.

1.5 Advisors: Advisors can help students involved in disciplinary proceedings to understand the disciplinary process, respect and comply with the provisions of this Policy, and manage all aspects of the process.

1.5.1 An advisor may accompany any complainant, respondent or witnesses and may participate in any meeting regarding a disciplinary complaint. Advisors also may accompany complainants or respondents to hearings and may quietly advise but may not participate in such hearings.

1.5.2 An advisor must be a TC faculty member, staff member, or student in good academic and disciplinary standing. An attorney may also serve as an advisor but only under the following conditions: (a) the attorney may not speak at or otherwise participate in the hearing but is limited to quietly advising, (b) the respondent or complainant must advise the Vice Provost for Student Affairs in writing, no less than 5 calendar days before the hearing if an attorney will serve as the  advisor and must provide the name of the attorney, and (c) a representative from the Office of the General Counsel or a designee will be present at the hearing to advise the SCC regarding procedural matters. If the respondent, complainant or attorney fails to comply with these restrictions, the attorney will not be permitted to attend the hearing and/or will be asked to leave the hearing.

1.5.3 Generally, a student must select an advisor whose schedule allows attendance at the scheduled hearing dates and times. Delays will not be allowed due to advisor scheduling conflicts.

2. Academic Integrity

2.1 Professional and Ethical Standards: TC is an academic community whose most fundamental purpose is the pursuit of knowledge. High principles of academic integrity are essential to the functioning and continued growth of this community. Students, as well as faculty, are responsible for adhering to these principles, and TC will not tolerate failure to adhere to the College’s principles of academic integrity. Students who intentionally or recklessly submit work either not their own or without clear attribution to the original source, fabricate data or other information, engage in cheating, or misrepresentation of academic records may be subject to charges. Those who violate academic and professional ethics should expect sanctions up to and including dismissal from TC.

2.2 Responsibilities of Community Members: Every member of the TC academic community is responsible for upholding the standards of professionalism and ethics declared in this Policy.

2.2.1 If a student is unsure whether actions might constitute a violation of academic integrity, the student has the responsibility to consult with the instructor in advance about any ambiguities.

2.3 Violations of academic integrity include but are not limited to:

2.3.1 Cheating: using or attempting to use unauthorized assistance, material, or study aids in examinations or other academic work;

2.3.2 Plagiarism: using the ideas, data, or language of another without specific or proper acknowledgement;

2.3.3 Fabrication: submitting contrived or altered information in any academic exercise, such as making up data, citing nonexistent articles, contriving events and sources of information;

2.3.4 Duplicate submissions: submitting any work submitted to fulfill another assignment without appropriate revision to meet the instructional goals of the current course. In cases of uncertainty or ambiguity, a student should check with the student’s instructor;

2.3.5 Misrepresentation of academic records, or attempting to tamper with transcripts or any portion of a student’s academic record;

2.3.6 Facilitating academic dishonesty by knowingly helping another student to violate academic integrity;

2.3.7 Unfair advantage through attempting to gain unauthorized access to examination materials, or obstructing another student’s efforts;

3. General Misconduct

3.1 Any member of the TC or Columbia University community may bring a complaint about student conduct to the attention of the Vice Provost for Student Affairs. Doing so in no way limits the complainant’s rights or obligations to bring such matters to the attention of other College offices, officers, or resources, including the Office of the Ombuds, or to seek recourse outside TC through civil or criminal legal proceedings.

3.2 Violations of general misconduct include but are not limited to:

3.2.1 Obstruction or disruption of teaching, research, administration, TC procedures and activities, or other authorized activities on TC premises, including functions on or off the premises.

3.2.2 Physical abuse, verbal abuse, threats, intimidation, stalking, harassment, coercion or other conduct that may endanger the health or safety of members of the TC community. This includes threats of violence against another person, stalking, and physical or verbal intimidation that unreasonably impairs the security or privacy of another person.

3.2.3 Discriminatory harassment including sexual harassment and gender-based misconduct. Please see the TC Policy on Protection from Harassment,, and the Gender-Based Misconduct Policy for Students found at

3.2.4 Gender-based misconduct, including sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking. Please see the TC Policy on Protection from Harassment,, and the Gender-Based Misconduct Policy for Students found at

3.2.5 Unauthorized entry or use of TC facilities or unauthorized possession or use of TC property or property of others.

3.2.6 Disorderly conduct or obscene conduct or expression.

3.2.7 Forgery, alteration, or misuse of TC documents, records, or identification, furnishing false information to TC, or possession of any false identification or identification belonging to another person.

3.2.8 Identity theft: Possessing or using another person’s name, address, Social Security Number (SSN), bank or credit card account number, or other identifying information without that person’s knowledge, and with the intent to commit fraud or other crimes.

3.2.9 Theft or other abuse of computer facilities and resources including but not limited to: any violation of College or Columbia University Computer Use Policy, using computing facilities and resources to send obscene or abusive messages, or other unauthorized use of computing facilities and resources.

3.2.10 Violations of copyright law by unlawful copying, distributing, sharing, or storing copyright-protected information or material, including but not limited to music, film, and video on the Internet.

3.2.11 The unlawful manufacture, possession, use, or distribution of illicit drugs, unlawful drug paraphernalia, and alcohol.  Please see the TC Policy Drug-Free Campus Policy,

3.2.12 Failure to comply with authorized directions of, or furnishing false information to, TC officials or representatives of the SCC acting in performance of their duties.

3.2.13 Failure to engage in responsible social conduct and to model good civil conduct and citizenship.

3.2.14 Violations of any other TC policy, rule or regulation, or of federal, state or local law.


4. Informal Procedures

4.1 When an issue arises involving the academic integrity or general misconduct of a student, the Policy provides informal avenues by which the complaint may be resolved:

4.2 Personal Resolution: A complainant may wish to begin by addressing the person against whom the complaint is being made.

4.2.1 Academic Integrity: A faculty member or other instructor who believes that a student has engaged in academic misconduct will apprise the student of the suspected academic misconduct and refer the student to the Student Conduct Code. The instructor shall also provide the student with the opportunity to meet with the instructor to discuss the nature and validity of the charges and the possible institutional responses. If, in discussion with the student, the instructor decides that the violation was unintentional, the instructor and student may agree upon appropriate sanctions.

4.2.2 General Misconduct: In cases of alleged general misconduct, parties are encouraged to pursue personal resolution where appropriate, but a complainant may bypass this or any step if the complainant would feel uncomfortable or unsafe taking it. In particular, individuals who believe that they have been threatened or who have been injured are encouraged to seek assistance before pursuing personal resolution. Such an individual may wish to pursue mediation, file a request for a formal resolution, speak with the Vice Provost for Student Affairs or visit the Ombuds.

4.3 Mediation:

4.3.1 TC encourages mediation whenever practical and appropriate. Mediation may take place only if the complainant and respondent agree to participate; a matter is resolved through mediation only if all parties agree on a resolution.

4.3.2 Academic Integrity: If, after following the procedure above, a resolution is not reached, the instructor and student may approach the Program Director (or Department Chair if the instructor is the Program Director) following their discussion and decision to move forward with mediation. The Program Director or Department Chair may then convene a meeting to discuss possible resolution of the matter. If sanctions are imposed and agreed upon, these should be communicated in writing to the student by the Program Director or Department Chair.

4.3.3 General Misconduct: In situations involving alleged general misconduct, any involved party may contact the Vice Provost for Student Affairs with a request for mediation. The Vice Provost for Student Affairs or a designee may then convene a meeting to discuss possible resolution of the matter. If, as part of the mediation, a resolution is agreed to that involves the imposition of sanctions, these will be handled by the Vice Provost for Student Affairs or designee.

4.3.4 The parties may, if they agree, ask the Ombuds to mediate a dispute. The Ombuds is independent from the College’s administration and determines the procedures under which the mediation will take place.

5. Formal Procedures

5.1 If attempts at personal resolution or mediation fail or any member of the community wishes to bypass informal procedures and file a formal complaint, the complainant shall notify the Vice Provost for Student Affairs in writing. The Vice Provost for Student Affairs or designee will then convene a Hearing Panel from the members of the SCC and the Vice Provost for Student Affairs will provide at least a 7 calendar days’ notice of the hearing and a statement of the charges to the complainant and the respondent.

5.2 The statement of the charges will identify the reasons for calling the hearing with sufficient particularity and rationale to insure the parties have an opportunity to prepare for the hearing.  The statement of charges will also contain the names of the proposed panelists. Either party should notify the Vice Provost for Student Affairs or designee of any panelist that is known to them and who could present a conflict in the case.  The Vice Provost for Student Affairs will review the potential conflict and decide whether or not the panelist should be replaced.

5.3 A hearing may be expedited in appropriate circumstances, including disciplinary matters involving students who have been placed on mandatory temporary suspension or conditional attendance, graduating students, or students who are about to take a leave of absence or to leave campus to study elsewhere. Students who withdraw from TC remain subject to this Code and a hearing.

5.4 The SCC Hearing Panel will be comprised of one student, one professional staff member, and one faculty member, one of whom will serve as Chair. The Chair is, in consultation with the Vice Provost for Student Affairs, responsible for ensuring that the hearing process occurs in a timely fashion. No member of the Hearing Panel who is otherwise interested in the particular case shall sit on the Hearing Panel for that case.

5.5 All members of the TC community are required to cooperate with these policies and procedures. Individuals who are interviewed or called as witnesses (including respondents and complainants) are obligated to provide honest and complete statements during the process.

5.6 Disciplinary hearings are not trials or legal in nature, and they are not governed by rules of legal procedure, evidence, or judicial formality. They are designed to encourage open discussion among the participants to promote the Hearing Panel’s understanding of the facts, the individuals involved, the circumstances under which the alleged incident occurred, the nature of the conduct, and the attitudes and experience of those involved. Information, including hearsay evidence, may be considered if it is relevant, not unduly repetitious, and the sort of information on which responsible persons are accustomed to rely upon in the conduct of serious affairs.

5.7 These procedures and standards apply to all hearings:

5.7.1 Participants in the process may be accompanied by advisors as described in the section on advisors above.

5.7.2 No less than 3 calendar days prior to the hearing, the parties shall submit to the Vice Provost for Student Affairs or designee all documents to be submitted as evidence and the names and anticipated areas of testimony of any witnesses. The Vice Provost for Student Affairs or designee shall provide the materials submitted by each party to the other(s). The Hearing Panel may exclude any evidence that is not submitted in accordance with this provision, but may consider such evidence if the party offering it demonstrates a good reason for failing to provide it in the manner requested above. 

5.7.3 The attendance of the witnesses at the hearing is generally the responsibility of the complainant or respondent who calls the witness. The attendance of witnesses called by the Panel are the responsibility of the Panel.

5.7.4 The complainant and the respondent may each make a brief opening statement followed by the Hearing Panel’s questions to the complainant, respondent and any witnesses.  The complainant and respondent will then have the opportunity to make a brief closing statement.

5.7.5 The Hearing Panel’s findings are based solely on the statements of the complainant, respondent, and/or witnesses and any evidence submitted prior to or during the hearing.

5.7.6 The burden of proof rests upon the person bringing the charge. The Hearing Panel will presume a respondent innocent unless proven responsible for a violation by a preponderance of the evidence.

5.7.7 There shall be a single official record of all hearings. The record shall be the property of TC.

5.7.8 If the respondent fails to appear at the hearing, proceedings will continue. Evidence may be presented and considered even if the respondent is absent.

5.7.9 After the hearing concludes, the SCC Hearing Panel shall deliberate in private.

5.7.10 All findings of the Hearing Panel require a majority vote. The SCC Hearing Panel will then promptly deliver a brief written statement and any recommended sanctions to the Vice Provost for Student Affairs.

5.7.11 The Vice Provost for Student Affairs will communicate in writing to the respondent a decision and any sanctions to be imposed on the respondent. The Vice Provost for Student Affairs will inform the complainant of the decision.

5.8 Appeals must be submitted to the Vice Provost within 14 calendar days following written notification of the decision from the Vice Provost for Student Affairs.  Grounds for appeal include (1)  procedural error and (2) new evidence and/or information not available at the time of the hearing.  Appeals must be in writing, must state the grounds for appeal and must provide any evidence to support the appeal. The Vice Provost will be provided with all information regarding the case.  After review, the Vice Provost will notify the appellant in writing of the appeal decision, which is final.

5.8.1 If the Vice Provost brought the charges against the student, the appellate officer function shall be discharged by the Provost and Dean of the College or a full professor who will be selected by lot.  Subject to the special provision for emergency or other extraordinary situations, there shall be no change in the status of the respondent until the appeals process is complete.

5.8.2 In an emergency or other extraordinary situations, the Vice Provost or Vice Provost for Student Affairs may take such interim disciplinary action as is necessary to deal appropriately with the situation pending a hearing by the SCC or a decision on appeal, which shall take place as soon as practicable.

6. Disciplinary Sanctions. Disciplinary sanctions may include but are not limited to one or more of the following:

6.1 Reprimand: an admonition and an official written warning, course or grade failure.

6.2 Restitution: repair or replacement of property when loss or damage is part of the offense.

6.3 Restriction: loss of privileges that are consistent with the offense and the rehabilitation of the student.

6.4 Disciplinary probation: placing a student in a probationary status that takes away the privilege of holding office and may also include social restrictions.

6.5 Suspension: dismissal from TC and/or its residence halls for a specified time. Suspension, pending a hearing, may be imposed when there is reason to believe the action is necessary to maintain TC operations or to protect the safety of individuals.

6.6 Expulsion: permanent dismissal from TC and/or its residence halls.

6.7 Revocation: withholding or repealing admission, course credit or a degree award based on fraud or misrepresentation.

6.8 Counseling, evaluation, and treatment programs: in some cases of misconduct, such as those committed under the influence of alcohol or other drugs, participation in an evaluation and/or treatment program by an approved counseling service may be required as a part of a sanction. Such treatment may also be a condition of readmission to TC or a condition for remaining at TC.

7. Disciplinary Records and Confidentiality

7.1 Records of disciplinary proceedings are maintained by the Vice Provost for Student Affairs. No record of the disciplinary proceedings will be entered in the student’s official College file until a final disciplinary sanction is rendered and any appeals are concluded.

7.2 All disciplinary proceedings, the identity of individuals involved in particular disciplinary matters, and all disciplinary files, testimony, and findings are kept confidential to the extent possible.

Columbia University Rules of Conduct  

Columbia University has separate Rules of University Conduct which apply to all those who visit its campus or use its facilities. Violations of these Rules can lead to sanctions including the eradication of permission to visit the Columbia campus or use of its facilities and suspension or dismissal from Columbia courses in which a Teachers College student may be enrolled.

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Responsible office: Vice Provost for Student Affairs
Last updated: October 2016