Academic Misconduct

At UC Berkeley, academic misconduct includes cheating, plagiarism (including self-plagiarism), facilitating academic dishonesty (allowing someone to cheat off of you or sharing answers), and fabrication/alteration of information. 

Been accused of academic misconduct? Read our FAQ or open a case by emailing academic.misconduct@berkeleysao.org.

Read below for more information about what happens when a professor/GSI suspect misconduct, informal meetings with the Center for Student Conduct, sanctions, and pathways forward.

Quick Links: Faculty Disposition Form, Records Release Form

If a professor or GSI suspects academic misconduct, they will report the incident to the Center for Student Conduct (CSC) and may reach out to you.

Some best practices for communicating with faculty or responding to allegations:

  • Be open about your goals in the course.
  • Having a conversation or meeting is best, but if that isn’t possible, use clear and concise email language to explain your perspective.
  • Be patient and avoid spamming your professor, as they are often handling a large volume of emails.

Your professor or GSI may ask you to sign a Faculty Disposition Form. Signing this form means that you accept responsibility and agree to any proposed conduct sanctions from the CSC as well as academic sanctions from the professor.

If you would like to contest the alleged misconduct, you have the option to not sign the form and open an investigation with the Center for Student Conduct. Conduct sanctions will not be increased as a result of going to this process unless particularly compelling evidence of misconduct (beyond what was reported) is uncovered.

Important things to note:

  • You may not drop the class if you have a case currently open with the CSC or if you accept responsibility for academic misconduct in the class. If you drop it, the course will be reinstated on your transcript by your college.
  • You may not change your grading option if you have a case open with the CSC or if you are found responsible for academic misconduct in the class. If you change your grading option to P/NP once academic misconduct has been alleged and you are found responsible, the graded option will be reinstated by your college.

If the CSC determines that the incident reported may violate the Code of Conduct, they will open an investigation and send you an Alleged Violation Letter, which contains a brief description of the allegations, proposed sanctions, and options for resolution. It also includes a deadline by which you have to respond in order to meet with a CSC coordinator (note: you can request an extension if needed).

One option for contesting the allegations on your AVL is an informal resolution meeting. This will give you an opportunity to share your side of the story and any evidence you have with a Conduct Coordinator. This meeting is also a place to have a conversation about the alleged misconduct, ways to learn and grow from this experience, and most appropriate sanctions. If you are found responsible after this meeting, you can contest the finding in a formal hearing.

Preparing for informal resolution meetings:

You may submit a Records Release form, which allows you to see any files the CSC has related to your case, including reports made by the instructor or evidence submitted. This can inform the points you make during the meeting.

You may also compile your own evidence to be presented at the meeting. This can include:

  • Study materials, communication with classmates or course staff, browser history, documents and their revision history, course policies, etc.
  • It’s helpful to include materials with timestamps that can verify timelines.

Other helpful tips:

  • Have a few main points ready to guide the conversation. You may want to use a powerpoint or compiled document to synthesize your evidence and general arguments, if you have evidence to present.
  • You may want to discuss contextual factors of an incident, your perspective of how it unfolded, and any individual circumstances you’d like your Conduct Coordinator to be aware of.
    It may be helpful to practice what you’d like to say with a close friend, family member, or SAO caseworker.

The sanctions proposed on an AVL are the most severe sanctions you can receive for this incident. You can always contest your proposed sanction during informals or hearings.

  • For first-time academic misconduct or minor behavioral misconduct, the proposed sanction is typically a non-reportable warning. These are often proposed in conjunction with educational sanctions from the CSC, such as a written reflection or ethical decision making seminar. Non-reportable warnings are internal to the CSC and not visible on transcripts or to any outside body.
  • If there are previous instances of misconduct, the proposed sanction will likely be higher. Students facing suspension or dismissal from the University can open a case with SAO to receive additional support by emailing conduct@berkeleysao.org. The Center for Support & Intervention’s Respondent Services also provides assistance to students facing suspension or dismissal.
  • For academic misconduct cases, a professor may impose their own grade-based sanctions, which fall outside of the CSC’s control. Please refer to the section below for more information about these sanctions.

Academic sanctions:

  • Your grade in a course is completely at the discretion of your professor, and the CSC does not make recommendations for grading consequences or impose any of these sanctions. However, professors typically apply sanctions based on the CSC’s outcome, so a finding of no responsibility would most likely lead a professor to restore your original grade.
  • Professors will apply whichever grade-based sanctions they deem appropriate if you are found responsible for academic misconduct by the CSC. Sometimes, this means a failing grade in the course or a 0 for an assignment, or in some cases, granting a NP. We find that it is best to talk through grade implications through an informal conversation with your professor. You may reach out to our office or the Ombuds Office to facilitate these conversations.
  • Professors may assign different sanctions to different students being accused of the same thing.
  • If you were found not responsible and encounter difficulty having a grade sanction lifted, you may reach out to our Academic Division at academic@berkeleysao.org, who can help facilitate conversations with your professor.

You will receive an outcome from the CSC typically within 7 business days of your informal meeting, though this timeline can vary depending on the case.

If you are found responsible and accept this outcome:

  • You may not drop the class after you were found responsible by the CSC. If you drop the course, it will be reinstated on your transcript by your college.
  • If you were taking the class for a letter grade, you may not change to P/NP after being found responsible. If you try to P/NP, your grading option will be reverted to graded.
  • If you were already taking the class P/NP, unfortunately, the policy is especially unclear and inconsistent. Our office has heard conflicting messages from different parties: one being that the original grading option should be honored, and the other being that it should be changed to a letter grade no matter what. If you would like to be assigned to an Academic caseworker who can look into your situation specifically with the Registrar, reach out to academic@berkeleysao.org.

If you are found responsible and do not accept this outcome:

You may contest the CSC’s outcome by requesting a formal hearing. If you would like a Conduct caseworker to help you prepare for your hearing and attend with you, please email conduct@berkeleysao.org.

If you are found not responsible:

  • The CSC will notify your professor about the outcome of your case. However, you may reach out to your professor a few days after the decision, or more immediately if your situation is urgent, to follow up and confirm that your grade will be appropriately calculated. If you’d like assistance in navigating this, our Academic caseworkers can reach out and communicate on your behalf.
  • If you were found non-responsible and encounter difficulty having a grade sanction lifted, reach out to our Academic division at academic@berkeleysao.org, who can help facilitate conversations with your professor.
  • You may only formally appeal your grade on three grounds specified by the Academic Senate Regulation A.207.A. If your case does not fall under these three grounds, you may not submit a formal grade appeal. If it does, our office can assist with drafting the grade appeal petition, compiling evidence, and submitting it for review by the Academic Senate.

Retaking the class:

  • You may retake the class if you have received a grade below a C- (D+, D, D-, F, or NP).
  • Courses previously taken for a letter grade may only be repeated for a letter grade. After repeating a course, both grades will show on the transcript, but only the most recent grade will be calculated into your GPA. As a general rule, when repeating a course for the first time, it is the 2nd attempt that counts.
  • If you received an NP and have taken the course only once before, you may repeat the course for either a letter grade, if allowed in the course, or take the course on a pass/no pass basis.

Needing the class to graduate/as a prerequisite:

  • If you need the class to graduate: it is best to schedule a meeting with your college and/or major advisor to figure out a course of action as soon as possible. Sometimes major departments will accept P/NP grading or make exceptions for requirements.
  • If you need the class as a prerequisite for a course you’re taking next semester/right now: schedule a meeting with your college advisor or current Professor/GSI to see what protocol to follow. This varies on a case by case basis. Sometimes you might have to drop the course and will need to retake the prerequisite or the department will make an exception.

Professors can submit the incident report at any point until 60 business days since they reasonably could have been aware of the misconduct. The CSC sends students an AVL about a week after receiving an incident report from a professor.

The CSC process timeline depends on the CSC’s case volume and how much investigation your case requires. Typically, you can expect to schedule an informal resolution meeting within a couple weeks of receiving your AVL, then expect an outcome around 7 business days after that meeting. It’s always best to check with your Conduct Coordinator specifically about what their estimated timelines are for your case.

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