This was a joint meeting with the student senate. The minutes as they appear have been approved by the Faculty Senate.


Faculty Senate Minutes



Return to Revised Minutes of 2-28-01


Present: P. Hajela, L. Kammerer, S. Anderson-Gold, J. Erickson, R. Leifer, L. Caporael, G. Korenowski, M. Hanna, M. Embrechts, C. Breneman, J. Mitchell, G. Belfort,


Student Senate:K. Muhannad, J. Cahill, E. St. Orge, W. Bobrowski, C. Gill, W. Shao, S. Baumah, T. McCue, G. Valadez, A. Cnaan, K. Compton, J. Jones.


Absent: K. Anderson, B. Parson, S. Derby, R. Gutmann, K. Craig, K. Fortun, A. Dyson, P. Quinn, B. Peterson, P. Boyce,


Guests:G. Gabriele, M. Smith, P. Azriel


Summary:1) Academic Honesty & Integrity

2) Curriculum Matters

3) Communication with Faculty


P. Hajela:I'd like to call the meeting to order.As you know, this meeting is a joint meeting with the student senate. Mr. Muhannad will co-chair this meeting with me.


First item on the agenda Presentation on Academic Honesty & Integrity by G. Gabriele followed by a discussion (see attached)


T. McCue:Are their any plans to outline the penalties and the procedure governing academic dishonesty in the handbook?


G. Gabriele:We are just trying to implement the policy as written.


M. Smith:The policies are quite outdated. Also, the penalties are at the discretion of the faculty member. It may range anywhere from a zero on a homework assignment, to failure of the course, to insisting the student be put into the juridical system which can go from no action to expelled.


G. Gabriele:We are currently revising the letter we sent to faculty from the provost office, asking that they be as clear and explicit as possible in respect to academic integrity issue.The faculty senate curriculum committee is now looking into putting together a list of sample statements outlining the penalties and expectations that faculty may use in their syllabus.


A. Cnaan:Could you please clarify on the topic of student verse faculty environment, if I understand correctly your concern is that the respondability is only on the faculty to monitor for academic dishonesty?My concern is that faculty may be expecting students to spy and report on each other.


G. Gabriele:All the responsibility is with the faculty and not with students.This means the faculty has to do all the policing. However academic dishonesty is not hurting the faculty it is hurting the students. For that reason, I feel students should decide on how they want to deal with this issue of academic integrity.


M. Hanna:The expectations and penalties need to be stated in the syllabus, but then you are creating a situation where the student may think am I worse off to leave out an assignment and get a zero for it, or copy it, and if I do get caught then penalty states I will receive a zero for that assignment.I would not recommend a system where we have set penalties, I believe the faculty should be able to identify what the penalties are for that partial course, and have a system where the students have the opportunity to disagree with that level of punishment and challenge it.


W. Bobrowski:I have drafted up a proposal to form a joint Faculty-Student Commission on Academic Integrity.(see attached)


G. Gabriele:I'm not here to advocate a system as to what should the penalties be or how to implement them or if students should spy on each other or not.I'm here to point out that the system is not functioning properly, and it needs to be reviewed and updated.How to achieve that is what these two bodies need to decide.


T. McCue:To have a productive session both parties need to figure out all the problems with the current system and make a list of all the issues, which need to be changed or addressed so we can be productive in eliminating the problems.I feel this will need to be a delicate balance.We must balance the penalties against the students right to know what their penalties can be. You also don't want to limit the faculty in what penalties they can impose.To achieve this will take compromising from both parties.


L. Caporael:Could you please tell me as students what you feel causes the lack of academic integrity?


P. Hajela:How widespread is academic dishonesty at RPI?


W. Bobrowski:To get a better grade, to get the best grade they can with the least amount of work.I have done thing's that could be interpreted as academic dishonesty and I think most students could say the same because if you define collaboration or, working together as academic dishonesty, then its very wide spread.The question is when does it stop being appropriate in the framework of the course to collaborate and work together, and when does it start being academic dishonesty?


L. Caporael:How much of this is due to workload?


A. Cnaan:I think one of the most frequent issues that I've heard is that students having a sense that only a certain number of students are going to be allowed to achieve the highest possible mark.This creates the issue of grade inflation but students have the fear that even if I do perform a certain amount of work I may still get outdone, which creates tension, which leads to cheating.As to whether there is a large amount of cheating, during my time as an undergraduate and as an instructor I have seen very few cases.


G. Valadez:I think we have a lot of collaboration going on, but I don't see a really organized attempt to defraud the system.What I do see is collaboration in the sense (you do the first three, I'll do the last three and then let's talk about them) but in the end everyone learns it for the exam. I think collaborate is a key element employer's look for when hiring.


T. McCue:On the collaboration issue more and more courses are telling you to work with a partner on homework, but you must turn in separate copies. Students are collaboration but I think it's different form.Are you copying, are you collaborating, how do we define this?In terms of academic dishonesty most course material needs to be taught every year, which makes it hard to change material from year to year. As a result most homework are the same from previous years, as are the test.This allows for previous copies to be circulated to students presently taking the course.In terms of actual percentages, it all depends on how we determine cheating, if collaboration is classified as cheating then its 90% on this campus.Most private and public schools are experiencing the same problem, it not just at RPI. Itís a wide spread problem. I see part of the problem as, what is the full definition of cheating and collaboration?


J. Cahill:The collaboration aspect needs more definition, we have so many things we have to collaborate on that it becomes a habit. You collaborate with everyone on everything.We need to look into the technical definition of collaboration versus the many forms of cheating.


G. Belfort: To establish a set of strict rules is not feasible. It will be very hard to establish as each class has a different set of expectations, as does each professor.I don't believe collaboration is a problem, I believe it is a terrific way to learn and if you speak to any industry person, the first question they want to know is if your students know how to work together, can they talk to another person. The critical point is what are the expectations of students by a professor.


G. Gabriele:All the discussions point to the same thing that the definitions are nebulous.I disagree with G. Belfort in the sense that the rules would not be hard to set.They can be as fundamental as, anything you turn in has to represent your own works if it doesn't it's a violation of integrity. It doesn't mean you can't collaboration, or work together. It just means you need to turn in your own work.


C. Breneman: I think its encumbent on the faculty to make very clear in the syllabus handout all expectations to avoid situations that we have heard here.I would also encourage collaboration on homework, but I don't want to see a situation where one student does it and the rest copy. If they choose to do this it hurts them, not anyone else.


M. Smith:Inherently everyone knows the different between honesty and dishonesty.If you look at the criteria it's pretty clear in terms of what is appropriate and what is not. It has more to do with a williness to accept the responsibility of what I do is my own work, what I do is fulfilling why I'm here.The dishonesty and cheating is more of an opportunity than a choice.We can define this and assign penalties to a point. Sooner or later, it's up to the individual to take that responsibility.


R. Leifer: I believe this commission should move forward as conditions have changed such as use of web CT, which is changing the nature of how people present assignment.I think with the opportunities on the web to do research or have other people do papers for you as well as use of laptops during exams, the whole issue needs to be reviewed and bought back for discussion by both students and faculty.

I make a motion to develop and set up this joint commission to look into Academic Integrity.


P. Hajela:You are not proposing that the faculty and student members have to be drawn from the senate; they could be drawn from the student or faculty body at large?


W. Bobrowski:There is no specification that they need be senators.


P. Hajela:Do I have a second:M. Hanna.Unanimous.Commission will be appointed no later then April 22nd.


M. Hanna:Realistically I donít believe having this go through the student judicial system hearing board process is wise.In doing that it would be going up to the next level which is a group of people from different areas deciding if the faculty academic board's action were right.You're asking them to over rule the decision made by the faculty board, and then asking the administration to change the grade. This should occur under the procedure process and I feel this is an important procedurally change.


R. Leifer:I believe that's a matter for the juridical review committee (that's currently taken place) because that's a juridical issue, not an academic integrity issue of where that board should sit.


G. Belfort:What kind of honor system do we have at RPI?


G. Gabriele:We do not have an official academic honor code.


R. Leifer:This is what the commission should address and hopefully develop a better definition of what is acceptable and not acceptable and what academic integrity represents.


Second item on the agenda Undergraduate Curriculum by William Bobrowski (student senator) (see attached)


M. Hanna:Is there a sense among the students that if laptops are not used in every course they attend, that they have possible been cheated?


G. Gabriele:The laptop program has only been active for two years, which is only on the levels of freshman and sophomore.

T. McCue:4 X 4 worked in the freshman year and some in the sophomore year but did not work at all in the junior and senior years (junior and senior years seem to be 3 x 5), because the curriculum, and the course catalog in 97' as well as what is needed to graduate is still slightly different from classes that are offered.Also, in some cases the combination of classes that were created to work with the 4 X 4 did not integrate properly with the 3 x 5 classes.The issue of Mon./Thurs and Tues./Friday imbalance is only one issue.This semester there were three different ECS courses that I could take and wanted to take but were all on the same days and times.It not just a Mon./Thurs and Tues./Friday imbalance but also a great imbalance of when courses are being offered. 


Third item on the agenda Improving Communication with Faculty


K. Muhannad:We would like to hold regular student faculty meetings and also have a representative from the student senate attend regular faculty senate meetings.


T. McCue:I feel a few more students should be added to the faculty senate curriculum committee, because I feel just one student representative for all students (undergraduates & graduates) is not allowing for a board perspective on issues. 


W. Bobrowski:Technically there are three students on the committee (2 undergraduates, 1 graduate).I believe that the faculty senate curriculum committee is the only contact between the faculty senate and student senate. We would like to see more interaction between the two bodies, such as cross-committee membership


M. Hanna:The faculty senate only has three committees, Promotion and Tenure, (is not relevant), Planning and Resources and Curriculum Committee.I don't see any reason why a student senator would have to be omitted from attending.


C. Breneman:The only reason I could see why they would be omitted is when we are holding discussions on issue not for general release.


K. Muhannad:We would like to set up regular meeting times for both groups, possibly once a month?


P. Hajela:I would like to discuss this in more depth within the faculty senate. I think we need to discuss how frequently these meetings should occur so we can keep the lines of communication open between both parties.

L. Caporael:When the student senate has elections could they please notify the faculty senate of the changes in positions so we know the new contact person for the student senate?


T. McCue:To keep the lines of communications open, would it be possible to have a liaison position between the two committees? Joint meetings would be a nice, but right now if we could just get communication flowing more easily between the two groups (e-mails etc.), it would be a step in the right direction. This way if there is an issue we share in common, we can arrange a meeting to work it out. 


G. Gabriele:In terms of communication I believe the faculty senate is actually a pretty open body. The meetings are open; the minutes are posted on their web page There is a lot, of opportunity for students to sit in on faculty senate deliberations without much formality.


Meeting adjourned 4:45 p.m.