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Student Policies > Academic Integrity and Conduct Systems > Honor System Charter > Definition of Terms

B. Honor System Definition of Terms

B. Honor System Definition of Terms


a. Advisor: a student, administrator, staff person, or faculty member who is currently a part of the Oberlin College community who agrees to provide guidance and support for a respondent or complainant. Advisors may not be parents of the complainant or respondent and may not act as legal counsel. Advisors may join a respondent or complainant during any meeting related to the investigation or hearing of a case. During hearings the advisor does not have speaking privileges and may not serve as an advocate on behalf of the complainant or respondent; however the advisor may confer with the respondent or complainant, offer support, and give advice, write notes to, or whisper a suggestion to the respondent or complainant on procedural matters. Ultimately, the advisor is present to provide moral support and to listen carefully on behalf of the respondent or complainant. Advisors are often able to make recommendations to the respondent about questions to ask, the appropriate tone to use, and to help clarify information.

b. Complainant: the student, administrator, staff person or faculty member bringing a charge against someone under the Honor Code.

c. Coordinator of the Student Honor Committee (also SHC Coordinator): the person responsible for receiving reports of violations, assigning case managers, keeping a record of cases under investigation and scheduled for hearings, and managing correspondence with the Faculty Honor Committee, honor system liaison, and the relevant deans.

d. Cochair(s) of the Student Honor Committee: the individuals designated by the SHC to facilitate meetings of the entire committee and who work collaboratively with the coordinator to make sure that committee members are carrying out the mission of the Honor System.

e. Honor System Liaison: the person designated by the Dean of Students to provide guidance and administrative support to the Student Honor Committee. The honor system liaison maintains a set of tracking files containing both names and case numbers, is an ex-officio member of the Faculty Honor Committee, facilitates communications with other administrative offices, and answers questions when classes are not in session or when the SHC coordinator is not available. The honor system liaison coordinates events to bring the constituents of the system together once or twice a year. In addition, the Honor System Liaison works collaboratively with the SHC to recruit and train members, to sponsor the fall orientation program for new students, and to ensure that a panel is available to hear cases during senior week.

f. Respondent: the person against whom a charge is brought under the Honor Code.

g. Relevant Dean: the dean of the college or the conservatory, or both, depending on where the student is enrolled.

h. Secretary/Treasurer: the person who works collaboratively to make sure that meeting minutes are recorded, assists the coordinator with correspondence and scheduling as needed, prepares the annual budget and meets with the Student Finance Committee as needed. Ordinarily, the secretary/treasurer is an underclass student serving as an apprentice to the coordinator.

i. Witness: an individual who is consulted by the SHC and who participates in a hearing to provide expert, factual, or circumstantial information related to the charge(s).


a. A business day ordinarily refers to a weekday (Monday through Friday) excluding college-recognized holidays during those weeks when classes are in session. Mondays through Fridays during fall and spring break, winter shut down, winter term, or summer vacation (hereafter, “recess periods”) are normally not considered “business days.” However, recess periods do not stay timelines for a respondent to submit requests for appeal to the relevant deans and to the President or the President’s designee, pursuant to sections F.7. Appeal: c. and e.

b. A charge is a written notice to a student of an alleged or potential violation of the Honor Code brought to the SHC for investigation.

c. Cheating occurs when students do not do their own work in an academic exercise or assignment. Examples of cheating include, but are not limited to:

(1) Copying from another student’s examination.

(2) Allowing a student to copy from another student’s examination.

(3) Using outside materials on an examination that is not authorized for use during the examination.

(4) Preparing or obtaining notes to take into a closed-book examination, for example writing on the hand or desk, preparing a crib sheet, or storing information in any other format for use and retrieval during the examination.

(5) Collaborating on a project that was to be completed individually.

(6) Using written notes or information, or electronic devices, such as a personal data device, laptop computer, cellular phone, or calculator in an unauthorized manner to store, share, or retrieve information during an examination.

d. Plagiarism: The appropriation of the work or ideas of another scholar—whether written or not—without acknowledgement, or the failure to correctly identify the source, constitutes plagiarism regardless of whether it is done consciously or inadvertently. A lack of knowledge of the standards of academic citation is not an excuse for inadequate or improper citation. Students should consult with a professor, librarian, or writing tutor if they are unsure about their citations or the proper format.

Plagiarism may take many forms. In its most blatant form, entire phrases, sentences, or paragraphs are used verbatim, without quotation marks or the appropriate citation. It is also plagiarism to paraphrase the work of another without attribution or to take a written passage and alter a few words in an effort to make the writing one’s own. Moreover, the use of another’s idea that cannot reasonably be regarded as common knowledge is plagiarism. Nontextual images such as drawings, graphs, and maps are also subject to plagiarism as are the experiments, computer programs, musical compositions, and websites of others.

Because footnoting and bibliographical conventions differ significantly between disciplines, students should consult with their

professors regarding the conventions of academic footnoting and bibliographical documentation expected in a particular course.

Standard published sources used as guides to citation style include:

  • Gibaldi, Joseph. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 7th ed., 2009.
  • McMillan, Vicky. Writing Papers in the Biological Sciences, 5th ed., 2011.
  • Turabian, Kate. A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, 8th ed., 2013. 
  • Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6th ed., 2009.
  • The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th ed., 2010.

Oberlin College maintains a website with useful information concerning the appropriate use of sources as well as acceptable footnote and bibliographical style. This site is at:

e. Fabrication: Fabrication occurs when a student consciously manufactures or manipulates information to support curricular and co-curricular work. Some examples of fabrication are:

(1) Falsifying citations, for example by citing information from a nonexistent reference.

(2) Manipulating or manufacturing data to support research.

(3) Taking another student’s examination, completing another student’s academic exercise, or writing another student’s paper.

(4) Listing sources in the bibliography that are not used in the academic exercise.

(5) Engaging another individual (whether a part of the college community or from outside of the college community) to complete the student’s examination, to complete the student’s academic exercise, or to write the student’s paper.

f. Multiple Submissions: The same work may not be submitted to more than one course without the prior approval of all instructors involved. Reasonable portions of a student’s previous work on the topic may be used, but the extent of the work must be acknowledged.

g. Other Acts: Students who misrepresent academic information to college officials, for example by falsifying grades, forging college documents, transcripts, records, recommendations, certificates, diplomas, degrees, or signatures, have violated the Honor Code. Destroying, hiding, and improperly removing or retaining library materials with the intent of denying others access to those materials also are violations of the Honor Code.