UCSB is helping faculty members report cases of academic dishonesty – including plagiarism – more easily, while reminding its students to avoid such unethical behavior.

The UCSB administration recently sent a message through GOLD alerting students to the consequences of plagiarizing. Joseph Navarro, associate dean of students and judicial affairs, said no particular incident of cheating provoked the message, but a new policy created by the Academic Senate may have had some influence.

“The faculty and staff felt it is important for students to know the rules about academic honesty,” Navarro said.

In March, the UCSB Academic Senate ruled that faculty members had to report academic misconduct to the Office of Student Academic Affairs, as opposed to personally dealing with the situation, Navarro said. Staff and faculty are being trained on a new online system that will make it easier to report academic dishonesty infractions.

In addition to having help reporting violators, faculty members have assistance in catching those who commit academic fraud. Navarro said the Political Science Dept. developed an electronic paper-comparison program not long ago.

“The program compares papers to each other and to the database that has papers from previous years,” he said.

The message sent to students on GOLD defined cheating as “using … materials, information, study aids or commercial ‘research’ services not authorized by the instructor of the course.” It stated that plagiarism was “representing the words, ideas or concepts of another person without attribution.”

The Student/Faculty Committee on Student Conduct, which Navarro staffs, hears cases about violations of campus regulations, including plagiarism. According to the committee’s final report from the 2005-06 school year, there were 32 instances of academic misconduct, which consisted of 26 plagiarism cases and six cheating incidences.

In the instance that a student is found guilty of plagiarizing, Navarro said, he or she would typically be suspended for two quarters.

If a student is summoned to a disciplinary meeting, he or she can use the services of the Office of the Student Advocate, located in the Associated Students’ offices adjacent to the UCen. The OSA’s website, www.advocate.as.ucsb.edu, has contact information and a list of students’ rights.

A caseworker from the office may accompany a student to an informal disciplinary meeting as well as to the formal hearing to provide support and mediation services.