Frequently Asked Questions for Professors


Common Questions and Answers For Faculty Members

The following information is meant to assist you with developing appropriate measures to instill confidence and purpose of integrity in academic work as well as to answer questions about the role of the faculty member in the reporting process of an Honor Code. 

Q: As a Faculty Member What is My Responsibility to the Honor System? 

A: As a faculty member at Valparaiso University you may have the opportunity to instruct students in various environments (i.e. lecture, lab, practicum). In each environment the Honor Code applies to all coursework of a student of Valparaiso University.

To uphold the Honor System faculty are responsible for, 1) developing general and specific authorized/unauthorized aid policies for all course assignments, papers, projects, quizzes, and examinations, 2) clearly specifying the authorized/unauthorized aid policy and its relation to the course and assigned tasks, 3) clearly identify what is authorized/unauthorized aid as it pertains to appropriate group work. Faculty are provided with the discretion to determine what is considered authorized/unauthorized aid in the specified course. By upholding your responsibilities to your students, they will be more likely to maintain their own academic integrity.

Q: What Can I Do to Ensure Integrity Within the Classroom?

A: The Honor Code applies to all coursework completed within the scope of academics at Valparaiso University. It is your responsibility to ensure that you as the instructor, teaching assistants, and graders 1) check for the Honor Code statement “I have neither given or received, nor have I tolerated others’ use of unauthorized aid” on all coursework. This includes assignments, papers, projects, quizzes, and examinations, 2) that the Honor Code contains a signature below it.

If the student does not sign the Honor Code statement in full, you as an instructor, teaching assistant, and/or grader should not asses a grade for submitted work unless it has the Honor Code statement written in full and is signed. It is your responsibility as an instructor to clarify this when coursework is assigned. If the assignment does not have the honor code written in full and signed, return the assignment and request that the student write and/or completely sign the work before assessing a grade.

Q: What Should I Do With Group Work?

A: The Honor Code applies to all coursework conducted in groups. As an instructor you are responsible for preparing and implementing clear policies for authorized/unauthorized aid, which apply specifically to group work or specific group assignments.

Q: How Do I Deal With Technology and the Classroom?

A: Technology in the classroom is increasing at a rapid pace.With the advent of ‘smart phones’ students are more prone to distraction than ever. Except in the case of an emergency, all cellular devices must be turned off during class time and especially during all quizzes and examinations. You are responsible for clearly indicating this at the beginning of the semester and upon assigning a quiz or distributing an examination. The use of a cellular device as a time-keeping device is not acceptable.

Q: Quizzes/Examinations and the Honor Code:

A: All preannounced quizzes and scheduled examinations must be taken without an instructor present unless a proctor is formally requested by a student. Should a proctor request be submitted to the Office of the Dean it is your responsibility for maintaining the confidentiality of the requestee.

Faculty may not request that a quiz or examination may be proctored. Students may pick up and complete a proctoring request form from the Office of the Dean or by visiting the Honor Council’s resources webpage.

Q: May I Use Another Model of the Honor System From Another Institution or University?

A: No, the provisions of the Honor System are unique to Valparaiso University and must be consistently applied. Furthermore, use of other institutions Honor Systems may constitute plagiarism and copyright infringement. As a faculty member you must use the provisions set forth by the Valparaiso University Honor System.

Q: How Do I Submit a Report that an Alleged Honor Code Violation Took Place?

A: You may submit a report to the Honor Council online at It is your responsibility for providing the Honor Council with all of the correct required information on the online form. Submitted misinformation will result in delays and constitutes a mutual agreement of an extension. The Honor Council is not responsible for acquiring contact information of all parties involved in a report.

Q: What Grade Do I Assign a Student Reported of an Honor Code Violation?

A: Faculty are responsible for assigning a the grade of NR-HC, 'not recorded’ to the student(s) accused in a report. The Office of the Registrar will assign the penalty assessed by the Honor Council should the finding of guilt be made by members present at a hearing. If the Honor Council finds an accused not guilty or dismisses a case you will be responsible for assessing a grade according to standard procedure.

Q: What if My Department or College Has Standard Quiz and Examination Procedures?

A: In any case you are responsible in addition to making the students aware of the Honor Code and the acceptable authorized/unauthorized aid policy pertinent to a course the departments policy as well. The Honor Code applies in addition to department or college procedures. Note, the Honor Council is not affiliated with any university department or college.

Q: What Will The Honor Council Require of Me Should a Report of a Violation Be Submitted?

A: In general you will be expected to cooperate with the Honor Council’s assigned student investigator. Upon your initial contact you will be required to submit to the investigator the following information; 1) your course syllabus, 2) attendance records, 3) student grades on similar assignments, the original assignment, project, paper, quiz, or examination and or coursework, 4) your evening availability on Monday or Wednesday, Tuesday or Thursday from 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM, 5) your contact information and the preferred method of contact.

Q: Will the Files I Submitted to the Honor Council Be Returned?

A: Because the files are confidential and are considered a formal record, the Honor Council cannot return files. Should you submit information please be advised it is in your best interest to retain a copy of records for your personal files. Files will not be returned.

Q: Can I Become A Member of the Honor Council?

A: Yes, the Honor Council is always looking for new faculty members. The Honor Council is an exception to the general prohibition on new faculty and staff prohibiting participation in various committees based on employment length. The Honor Council does not consider employment length part of the selection process. To submit your information you are required to; 1) seek a letter of recommendation from the Office of the Dean of your College, 2) write a pre-prepared nomination acceptance for submission once the Honor Council receives appointment, 3) prepare a schedule of availability on Monday/Wednesday, Tuesday/Thursday schedule from 7:30 PM to 9:30 PM and contact information file for submission to the Corresponding Chair. The Honor Council will contact Dean recommended faculty for further processing. Student members of the Honor Council and the President in writing must confirm final appointments. The student members of the Honor Council reserve the right to deny appointment.

Q:  Who is an Investigator?

A:  The investigator is assigned by the Executive-Chair to gather information. Student members investigate Honor Code violation reports. The investigator makes initial contact with the accuser. Then the investigator contacts the professor. Lastly, the investigator interviews the accused and presents him/her with all of the information that has been gathered from previous interviews. 

Q:  What Are the Accused Student's Options?

A:  The accused has 3 options:

  • By entering a GUILTY plea, the accused acknowledges the violation, and will receive the standard penalty. A hearing is not required.
  • By entering a plea of GUILTY with EXTENUATING CIRCUMSTANCES, the accused acknowledges the violation, but believes there are circumstances that would merit a deviation from standard penalty. A hearing is required.
  • By entering a NOT GUILTY plea, the case will proceed as follows: Any relevant information collected through the investigation is compiled in a report given to the Chair of the Honor Council. The Chair, in turn, decides whether there is sufficient evidence in the student's case to warrant a hearing before the Honor Council.

Q:  What Do I Need to Bring to the Hearing with Me?

AYou should bring anything that will help us gain a better understanding of the situation. The Council contains various areas of study, so any information you can bring us helps immensely gain the clearest perspective. You will however will be expected to provide the investigator at the time of the interview at minimal all of the following.

  • Copy of the course seating chart and accused attendance records.
  • A copy of the course syllabus and assignment guidelines.
  • The original documents submitted for assessment. No exceptions.
  • Any and all communication between the course-listserv and yourself concerning an assignment if applicable.
  • General summary of the students course typical course performance on similar types of assignments or tasks.

Please note, the Honor Council will not return documents submitted for review. Submitted documents become a part of the Honor Council's record for a period of up to seven academic years and are not releasable to anyone with the exception of the Executive-Chair, Chair of the Appeals Board, Faculty Adviser, and or University Administrators.

Q: Who Will Be at the Hearing?

A There are six student members and three faculty members vote at the hearing. The Executive-Chair presides over the hearing and votes only in the event of a tie.

Q: What is “Standard Penalty?”

A Standard penalty for first offenses is an “F” in the course. With the second offense, the student receives an “F” in the course and is suspended from the University for the following semester. Upon the third offense, the student is expelled permanently (Constitution of the VU Honor System, Article III, Section J).

Q: May I Recommend a Different Penalty?

A In some situations, deviation from standard penalty is granted. Under the Constitution, the case must show “extenuating circumstances.” The Council has the power to define that. As a general rule, the Honor Council strictly interprets the textual definitions clearly outlined in the most recent version of the Constitution of the Valparaiso University Honor System. If you feel that the student, for some reason, does not deserve standard penalty, please make that clear to us. We cannot, however, guarantee the outcome of the hearing, but your opinion will be taken into consideration. In general the Honor Council strictly interprets the definitions concerning penalties.

Q: What Part Do I Play in the Penalty?

A If the student receives standard penalty, the accused will no longer be in your class. The Provost’s office will make arrangements with the Registrar to assign the student the appropriate grade. If we deviate, you may be responsible for upholding the penalty. (The student may be required to receive a “0” in one section of grading, for example, and you will be responsible for assigning that “0” and averaging the grade from that point.) Additionally, should the submitted report be dismissed following investigation you will be expected to process a grade on that assignment at your discretion.

Q: Will my identity be kept confidential (if you are the accuser)?

A: Yes. We pride ourselves on the fact that we keep such a high level of confidentiality. If you do not wish to be identified, please inform us immediately. Most professors do not care, while others wish to remain unknown. This option is entirely yours.

Q: If a Student Calls or E-mails Me and Asks Me to Change My Mind, What Should I Do?

A: It is in your contract with Valparaiso University that you will uphold the Honor Code. This means that you cannot overlook a violation in your class. Tell the student that it has already been turned in to the Honor Council and that it is now out of your hands. They may call or consult with Professor Paul Trapp, the faculty advisor. No student or faculty member can assess a penalty on a case that is currently being investigated by the Honor Council (Article III Section O).

Q: Can I Appeal the Outcome of a Case?

A Under Article VI, Section B, Clause 1, you may appeal either the finding of guilty or the penalty of a case. An appeal must be based on at least one of the following grounds:

  • that a procedural error occurred;
  • that new evidence has arisen which has a direct bearing on the case within 10 academic days of notification of the hearing outcome by the Chair of said hearing;
  • that evidence was inaccurate or disregarded
  • that a biased decision by the Honor Council was made.

Note, it is the responsibility of the appellant to provide justification of the claim. Should the justification not be directly related to the request for appeals the request may be denied at the discretion of the Chair of the Appeals Board (See Appeals in the Constitution of the Valparaiso University Honor System). Similar to requests for deviation, the Appeals Board as a general rule strictly interprets the textual provisions of the Constitution of the Valparaiso University Honor System. All questions pertaining process and particular cases of appeals should be directed to the Chair of the Appeals Board. Dismissals of cases are final.

Q: If I Have a Question on Assigning a Grade or Eligibility of a Student Whom is Involved in an Violation Report Whom Do I Contact?

A: In general, the Honor Council is not responsible for answering questions concerning assessing final grades or eligibility. These types of questions, due to their specificity should be directed to the Office of the Registrar.

Contact Information

Honor Council (General)
Meier Hall, Rm 146
Valparaiso University

Honor Council (Appeals)