AJC ruling on alleged plagiarism in the Programming for CS course

On May 31, 2016 the Ashesi Judicial Committee (AJC) ruled in a case of alleged plagiarism in the Programming for CS course. The AJC concluded that the student, a member of the Class of 2018, was guilty of plagiarism, after finding that a significant amount of the student’s final project was copied from another source.

As stated in Ashesi’s student handbook,

Academic dishonesty includes plagiarism, unauthorized exchange of information or use of material during an examination, unauthorized transfer of information or completed work among students, use of the same paper in more than one course, unauthorized collaboration on assignments, and other unethical behavior.  Disciplinary action will be taken against perpetrators of academic dishonesty – Section 7.4.  

In addition, the Committee found that the student displayed a high level of disregard for the AJC process, which increased the severity of the sanctions.

After deliberation, the AJC arrived at the following sanctions. The student:

  • Will receive a failing grade for the course.
  • Will need to audit the Written and Oral Communication course in order to graduate.
  • Will not be able to represent Ashesi officially at external opportunities gained under the auspices of Ashesi, until September 2017.
  • Will not receive recommendations from Ashesi until September 2017.

The AJC encourages the Community to consider how sloppy work, a lack of understanding of plagiarism, ethics and integrity have grave repercussions and affects the wider community. The AJC would especially like to advise the Ashesi community of the following:

  • Students should take a great deal of responsibility in ensuring that work submitted is neither rushed nor sloppy, and is a true reflection of the student’s capacity.
  • Students should learn to cite properly in all academic work, including computer code.
  • Students should not ‘try their luck’ with plagiarism. Plagiarism is subject to the full range of sanctions – failing a course to expulsion.
  • If students receive an Informal Resolution they should consider it a warning to take exceptional care in maintaining integrity. In a case where a student has a pre-existing Informal Resolution case, a second infraction, whether minor or major, will result in the case being escalated to the AJC level immediately.
  • Students should take the AJC process very seriously and should respond to all communication from the AJC promptly. Failing to do so is likely to increase the severity of the sanctions.

Academic honesty is very important at Ashesi and is central to our mission. We trust that the Ashesi Community will learn and grow through these experiences.