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Faculty forum changes

April 19th, 2007

Between passing an Academic Honesty Policy and beginning the discussion of changing the current way that the First Year Seminar course is currently structured, the Faculty Forum has barely had a chance to take a break.

At 5 p.m. on April 12 the new Academic Honesty Policy passed with 86 faculty members voting for the new policy, 11 faculty members voting against it and two members of the faculty abstaining from the vote.

“There was no University-wide policy in place before this, the undergraduate bulletin gives a general range of penalties and brief statement on plagiarism,” said Chair of the Faculty Forum, Miles Coburn.

This new policy will put into the undergraduate bulletin a statement that clearly defines plagiarism and a process of reporting and penalizing those at fault.

“Many faculty are concerned that students understand clearly what plagiarism is. They want students to write originally and with proper attribution,” Coburn said. “This is a good step to help students understand what is considered plagiarism and how to avoid it. Our hope is that students will pay attention.”

The two points that Coburn suggested to be reasons why some faculty voted against it are the way that plagiarism is defined and certain wording in the document.

Coburn suggested that there should be a difference in penalizing a student “taking English 111 and a student taking a 400-level major class,” he said. The statement cannot be all encompassing and should not be, according to Coburn.

The issue raised with the language is that there are words in the document which make it unclear as to whether or not every case, no matter how minor, should be reported.

“The faculty want a bit of room to decide for themselves what is plagiarism before they have to report it,” Coburn said.

With the passing of the Academic Honesty Policy the Faculty Forum is not done. Last night a committee reported to the forum on whether or not the bill to change FYS is ready to go to discussion.

If the bill passes the new FYS would be instituted in the fall of 2008. According to Coburn, this is still a big “if.” FYS would be divided into several different learning communities, which would focus on “sub-ideas” of a general topic.

Between five and eight faculty will each teach a similar course on a similar topic, sharing the same books and speakers and all sections will have one book that remains the same.

All books and learning communities will in some way relate to an “over arching theme,” according to Coburn.

In the fall of 2007 the Faculty Forum will also change from its current state as a forum to a Faculty Council.

“The current Faculty Forum has been in place for about 20 years and attendance is low, it is difficult to move issues through,” Coburn said.

The new Faculty Council will operate much the way Student Union currently does, with a representative from each department at each meeting.

“There will still be one meeting each month with the entire faculty to cover substantive issues, but the Faculty Council will serve the business of the day-to-day processes of the Faculty,” said Coburn.