Latest Updates, Resources, and Response to COVID-19

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity refers to the value of keeping the integrity of an academic process so that knowledge and ability are fairly evaluated and that earned results are just that – earned. However, at Western Seminary, integrity speaks to more than just academics. Every member of the Seminary community is expected to uphold the highest standards of not only academic excellence, but also social behavior, interpersonal relationships, and moral and ethical conduct.

The Seminary’s policy on academic honesty and integrity assumes that the student is honest, that all course work and examinations represent the student’s own work, and that all documents supporting the student’s admission and graduation are accurate and complete. Dishonesty, in any form, is a violation of both the command of God and Western Seminary regulations. As such, it is an extremely serious offense. Violations of this standard include, but are not limited to: plagiarism, cheating, and academic fraud.

It should be noted, many incidents of violations of academic integrity stem from student’s finding themselves in a place where cutting corners is the only means to complete an assignment. In the midst of this moment, and in line with our restoration model of Student Development, we would call students to pause to look at the bigger picture of what is important – earning a better grade, completing an assignment, or reflecting Jesus and glorifying God in all our actions? This is just as valuable a lesson to learn as coursework since even in your future ministry or professions, there will always be pressures weighing on you to make dishonest or unethical decisions. If you find yourself in this position, we ask that you proactively bring it to the attention of your professor. In the case of plagiarism, there may be an unintentional violation of the policy when things are not attributed correctly. This presents a teachable moment and often will be worked out by the course instructor with further support, as needed, by the Deans of Student Development. There may still be possible ramifications, as outlined below, but we want to work with you to move through and learn from this experience.

Cheating

Cheating in any form is a violation of both the command of God and Seminary regulations. Cheating includes, but is not limited to doing someone else’s work for them or vice versa, using prohibited resources while doing take-home exams, copying someone’s test or homework, misrepresenting reading or client contact hours, and the like.

Plagiarism

 Of particular concern is the problem of plagiarism. Plagiarism is defined as taking another’s ideas or words and presenting them as one’s own. The student must give proper credit to the source of ideas as well as direct quotations. (For further guidance, please see your professor.)

Each instructor will usually outline their cheating and plagiarism consequences in course syllabi. There is also a general syllabus statement on copyright violations and plagiarism as follows:

Plagiarism and Copyright Violation:

Research in secondary sources for the written project is permitted and welcomed. However, any appropriation of either ideas or wording taken from other sources, whether print or electronic, must be properly footnoted. Failure to do so constitutes plagiarism which can result in a substantial grade reduction or failure. Any unauthorized copying or use of copyrighted materials, including downloaded files of various kinds, can result in criminal charges and fines. For a fuller explanation of these issues or Western Seminary’s copyright policy, see the Intellectual Property Rights Information and Academic Integrity sections of the Student Handbook: https://www.westernseminary.edu/academic/handbook-copyright and https://www.westernseminary.edu/student-conduct-character/handbook-integrity respectively.

Academic Fraud

Academic fraud relates to misrepresenting yourself and your academic background. This could include but is not limited to, giving false information or documents in your admission application, claiming unearned degrees, or claiming you have earned particular credentials from Western Seminary that you have not.

Actions Taken

Dealing with violations of cheating and plagiarism is the responsibility of the individual faculty member who also may involve the Dean of Students. Options for resolution range from forgiveness with no restitution necessary to failure on the test, assignment, or course.

Additionally, instances of cheating, plagiarism, and academic fraud will be referred to the Dean of Students and reviewed on a case-by-case basis for additional student support which may include: 

  • required meeting with Student Development Dean to discuss and understand the nature of the violation,
  • support resources to help the student improve information literacy and avoid repeat copyright violations,
  • requirement/recommendation to run future coursework through plagiarism checker or have an exam proctored (at student expense),
  • when warranted, a more comprehensive review of student papers to determine the extent of cheating, plagiarism, or academic fraud,
  • meeting with student and accountability/support such as spouse, church or ministry mentors/pastors/leaders/supervisors, and
  • in certain situations, review of student case to faculty Student Development Committee for consequences ranging from sitting out at term to dismissal. 

As a student, if you feel that you have been unjustly accused or treated unfairly, please schedule a meeting with the course instructor. If needed, an appeal may be made first to the Dean of Students or to the V.P. of Student Development. Repeated or flagrant cheating may result in dismissal.