Academic Integrity  

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Ladies and Gentlemen,

This our first week of classes and I am writing to ask that, if you have not done so, you sign Frederick Community College's Code of Academic Honesty. Go to http://http://courses.frederick.edu/courses/pledge/index.aspx to complete and sign the form.
Why is this important? In any true educational experience, academic integrity is a matter of mutual responsibility and trust. As a faculty member of this College I am committed to academic integrity and I would like to know that you share this commitment.
What difference does it make if you as a student or I as a faculty member violate the principles of academic integrity in a course, or even in only one particular course assignment?
For me, the answer is that integrity is important in this course precisely because integrity is important in all areas of life. If we don't have integrity in the small things, if we find it possible to justify plagiarism or cheating or shoddy work in things that may not seem important at the time, how will we resist doing the same in areas that we know do matter? Take an example, would you want to be operated on by a doctor who cheated his way through medical school? Or would you feel comfortable on a bridge designed by an engineer who cheated her way through engineering school. Would you trust your tax return to an accountant who copied his exam answers from his neighbor?
We live our lives in a web of interconnected rights and responsibilities that reflect our mutual dependence upon one another. Academic integrity is so important because the success of our individual efforts in this course depends to a good degree on the rest of us. And the failure of any of us--even just one of' us--to do what is required will diminish, however slightly, the opportunity for the rest to achieve their goals. That is why it's essential for all of us in this class to practice academic integrity, in both senses of the word practice. For practice today will lay a solid foundation for practice tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that, so that through daily practice integrity will come to be woven throughout the fabric of our lives, and thus through at least a part of the fabric of society. What does that involve for each of us in this course?
(1) Academic integrity basically requires the same things of me as a teacher, as it requires of you as a student.
(2) If you feel I've failed to live up to the standard, I trust that you will call me on it. If you fail to meet the standards, I have a responsibility to call you on it with respectful consideration.
(3) Here is my answer to the most difficult question with regard to academic integrity: What should you do, if you become aware of a fellow classmate who is not living up to the principles of academic integrity? My answer is that you should consider saying something to that student, and if that is not possible, you should tell me. In turn, I promise to be as considerate and respectful in treating the information as I can.
If you have any comments about this letter or its subject matter, please let me know. I am looking forward to a great semester.