Academic Policies

Introduction

As a student of Shippensburg University, you will need to understand and follow all academic policies and procedures in order to successfully complete your course of studies. University officials such as your faculty advisor, department chair, and academic dean can provide assistance, but it is ultimately your responsibility to be aware of academic policies and degree requirements. Detailed information can be found in the undergraduate catalog.

The catalog is an official university publication containing information on academic policies, procedures, course offerings, and degree requirements. One of the most important chapters of the catalog is called “Academic Policies and Procedures.” This contains information for all students on grading, academic progress, withdrawal from courses, declaring or changing majors, academic standing, and requirements for graduation. Although some of that information may be summarized in Swataney, the catalog is the only official source of information.

Registrar’s Office

The Registrar’s Office, located in Old Main 110, provides a variety of services for students. The Registrar maintains all official academic records and is responsible for scheduling, processing of grades, enrollment verification, notification of probation and dismissal, readmission, non-degree students, and graduation. Additional information is available online through the Registrar's Office.

Access to Student Records

Academic institutions are required under federal law to treat student academic records as confidential. Under the provisions of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA), students have certain rights to privacy concerning the release of their educational records.

Shippensburg University complies with FERPA and follows these guidelines for access to student records:

  • Student records can be viewed by university officials for university business. Instructors, advisers, deans, or department chairs may review a student’s academic records, such as courses taken and grades earned. Such access is limited to those with a legitimate educational interest in the student’s record. Viewing information for personal reasons is a violation of the student’s privacy rights.
  • Because FERPA gives students the right of access to their own official educational records, information may be disclosed to the individual student.
  • Student data may not be disclosed to third parties unless the student provides a written waiver permitting release. This prohibition includes the student’s parents unless the student is a dependent as defined for federal income tax purposes.
  • Under the provisions of FERPA, the university may release directory information about current students without violating privacy rights. Directory information for students include name, home/local address and telephone number, email address, enrollment status, major, degree, honors, as well as verification of dates of enrollment and degrees awarded.
  • Individual students may request that directory information not be released by notifying the Registrar’s Office. When that happens, those students are excluded from any printed directories and a message appears on computer displays indicating that information should not be released.

The university issues reports of progress including grades and letters of warning directly to the student.  End of semester grades are not mailed to students.  Students may access end of semester grades by logging on to the Student Information System, navigating to the “Registrar” section of the site, and clicking on the “Academic Record” link.  During your freshman year, you will also receive mid-semester grade reports.  These reports, which do not become part of your academic record, are intended to warn you about classes which you are in danger of failing.  The mid-semester grade reports are mailed to you at your permanent mailing address.  Certain groups of students will continue to receive mid-semester grades after their freshman year.

Mailing Addresses

The university maintains two mailing addresses for students. The local address is used for mailings sent during the semester. This address can be a residence hall, an apartment in town, or your home address if you commute. The permanent, or legal address, is used for mailings before and after semesters (for grades, bills, etc.).

It is important that you keep both addresses up to date. If one of your addresses is incorrect, you may not receive important information from the university.

You can indicate address changes when returning your bill, by submitting a change of address form in the Registrar’s Office, or updating your record by logging on to the Student Information System, navigating to the “Registrar” section of the site, and clicking on the “Change Address” link.

Enrollment Verification

Students may need verification of their enrollment status for purposes such as eligibility for insurance coverage or deferment of student loans. Official verification of enrollment is done by the Registrar’s Office for undergraduates. There is no fee for this service.

Enrollment will be verified for the official dates of each semester once a student has completed the registration process. This includes scheduling classes and paying tuition and fees. Verifications for student loan deferment may not be sent until the first day of the semester.

Undergraduate students will be certified as full-time if they are registered for 12 or more credits. Those with fewer than 12 credits will be certified as part-time.

Shippensburg University has authorized the National Student Clearinghouse (NSC) to provide these services to students:

  • Print a certificate of enrollment that can be forwarded to a health insurer, housing provider, credit issuer, or other student service providers.
  • View enrollment information that may have been provided to a student services provider.
  • View the electronic notifications and deferment forms that have been sent to their lenders, servicers, and guarantors.

NSC may be contacted by logging on to the Student Information System, navigating to the “Registrar” section of the site, and clicking on the “Enrollment Verification” link.

Official verification of enrollment may also be requested through the Registrar’s Office, but the office requires a one-week turnaround time. It is more efficient and timely to use the NSC service.

Transcripts

Transcripts are the complete and official record of academic activity at Shippensburg University. Official transcripts are only available through the Registrar’s Office. Transcripts are free up to three copies.  After the third copy, a $3.00 fee per copy is required.

Students may request a transcript by completing the transcript request form available online through the Registrar's Office.  This form may be delivered, mailed or faxed to the Registrar’s Office.  Transcripts may NOT be requested by phone.  In order to protect students’ privacy rights, we must receive a signed request before releasing transcripts.  Students with holds on their accounts because of obligations to the University (unpaid fees, materials not returned, parking fines, etc.) will not be provided with official transcripts until the holds are satisfied.

Undergraduate/Graduate Catalog

Students are urged to familiarize themselves with the Undergraduate and Graduate Catalogs, especially with those sections which deal with fees, deposits, curriculums, scholastic regulations, quality point system and graduation.  The catalog is the official publication of Shippensburg University which includes all official information of concern for students.  Freshmen and transfer students will receive Undergraduate Catalogs during their Orientation Programs which are held in June.  Continuing students may purchase catalogs in the campus bookstore or consult a library copy.  This publication is also available online.

Policy on Academic Dishonesty

Academic Dishonesty

It is the policy of Shippensburg University to expect academic honesty.  Students who commit breaches of academic honesty will be subject to the various sanctions outlined in this section.  This policy applies to all students enrolled at Shippensburg during and after their time of enrollment.

As used in this policy, the term academic dishonesty means deceit or misrepresentation in attempting (successfully or unsuccessfully) to influence the grading process or to obtain academic credit by a means that is not authorized by the course instructor or university policy. A breach of academic honesty is committed by students who give, as well as receive, unauthorized assistance in course and laboratory work and/or who purposefully evade, or assist other students in evading, the university’s policy against academic dishonesty.

Definition

As used in this policy, the term academic dishonesty means deceit or misrepresentation in attempting (successfully or unsuccessfully) to influence the grading process or to obtain academic credit by a means that is not authorized by the course instructor or university policy.  A breach of academic dishonesty is committed by students who give, as well as receive, unauthorized assistance in course and laboratory work and/or who purposefully evade, or assist other students in evading, the university’s policy against academic dishonesty.

Academic dishonesty includes but is not limited to:

  • Bribing, or attempting to bribe, faculty or staff personnel in order to attain an unfair academic advantage.
  • Possessing course examination materials prior to administration of the examination by the instructor without the instructor’s consent.
  • Using unauthorized materials or devices such as crib notes during an examination.
  • Providing and/or receiving unauthorized assistance during an examination.
  • Using a substitute to take an examination or course.
  • Misusing transcripts, records, or identification, such as forgery or alteration of transcripts.
  • Allowing others to conduct research for you or prepare your work without advance authorization from the instructor, including, but not limited to, the services of commercial term paper companies.
  • Intentionally and without authorization falsifying or inventing any information or citation in an academic exercise, such as making up data in an experiment or observation.

The preceding list is only for purposes of illustration. Other forms of inappropriate conduct may also be subject to charges of academic dishonesty.

Resolution of Charges

When an instance of academic dishonesty is alleged, the issue should be resolved on an informal basis between the student and faculty member. If an informal resolution cannot be achieved, a formal process of deciding culpability and assessing sanctions will be followed. If the student has committed a previous violation, the formal process must be followed.

Informal Resolution

A faculty member who obtains information that a student has been dishonest should act promptly to resolve the issue.  The faculty member should first contact the Dean of Students to determine if this is the first violation for the student.  If the suspected incident is not the first violation, the offense must be handled through the formal resolution process.

For a first violation, the faculty member may attempt to resolve the issue informally with the maximum penalty to be a grade of “F” in the course.  If the faculty member feels that the offense warrants a more severe penalty, the matter must be resolved through the formal process.

For the matter to be resolved informally, the faculty member must meet with the student and present any evidence of a violation.  The student will be given an opportunity to provide an explanation after hearing the evidence.  If the faculty member determines that violation has occurred, he/she will complete the form “Settlement of a Charge of Academic Dishonesty.”  This form will include the penalty that the faculty member will apply.

The form is then given to the student, who has 72 hours to seek advice and decide whether to sign.  If the student agrees to accept the penalty, he/she must sign in the presence of the faculty member.  The faculty member will then implement the accepted penalty and forward the settlement form to the Dean of Students.  The form will be kept on records for five years and may be used if the student is accused of another academic dishonesty offense or any other violation of the Student Code of Conduct.  The information will only be used for internal purposes and will not be disclosed outside the University. Once a violation of academic dishonesty has been alleged, the student is not permitted to withdraw from the course until the alleged violation has been resolved.

If the student refuses to sign, the faculty member may pursue the matter through the formal resolution process.

Formal Resolution

An allegation of academic dishonesty must be resolved through a formal process if the student disputes the charges or does not accept the penalty proposed by the faculty member.  The formal process must also be followed if the incident is not the student’s first violation.

In the formal process, an allegation of academic dishonesty will be treated as a violation of the Student Code of Conduct.  The charges will be resolved through the Conduct Process administered by the Dean of Students.  The Dean of Students and an academic administrator designated by the Provost will consult to determine if sufficient information is present to warrant further action.

If there is sufficient information to proceed with the complaint, the steps outlined in the “Student Conduct Process” section of the student handbook Swataney will be followed.  Academic dishonesty cases must be heard by the University hearing board; the student conduct hearing officer option is not available for these cases.

Appeals of academic dishonesty decisions will be handled by the Vice President for Student Affairs and the Provost.

Penalties

The Student Code of Conduct contains a list of sanctions which may be imposed for violations.  In addition to those in the Code of Conduct, the following two sanctions may be imposed against students found to have committed acts of academic dishonesty:

  • Grade Reduction

The grade for a particular unit of work or for the entire course may be reduced.

  • Imposition of a Failing (“F”) Grade.

The student may receive an “F” grade for the course.

These two penalties may be imposed through the informal settlement process or the formal hearing process.  More severe penalties, including suspension or expulsion may only be imposed through the formal process.  Additional stipulations may also be attached to any sanctions.

Plagiarism

Plagiarism is a form of academic dishonesty.  Shippensburg University will not tolerate plagiarism, and the faculty will make all reasonable efforts to discourage it.

Plagiarism is your unacknowledged used of another writer’s words or specific facts or propositions or materials in your own writing.  When other writers’ words or materials (even short phrases or specific terminology) are used, you should put these words, phrases or sentences inside quotation marks (or else indent and single-space more extended quotations), and you should then cite the source of the quotation either in the text of your writing or in footnotes.  Failure to do so may be considered plagiarism.  When the propositions of another writer are restated in your own words (paraphrased), you should also indicate the source of the paraphrased material in your own text or in footnotes.  Comparable citation should be made for borrowings from media other than printed texts, such as lectures, interviews, broadcast information, or computer programs.

The more flagrant form of plagiarism is your submission of an entire paper or computer program or lab report (or a substantial portion of a longer work) written by someone else and presented as your own work.  This can include material obtained from a friend, from a fraternity or sorority file, from duplicated student writings used for analysis in other writing courses, from commercial sources, or from published materials.  Another common form of plagiarism is the unacknowledged borrowing from other sources (either words or propositions) and the integration of such material in your own work.

Certain situations may cause conscientious students to fear plagiarizing when they are not really plagiarizing.  These include:

Improper format for documentation

Improper documentation is not plagiarism but a technical academic problem.  Different professors, different academic departments, and different academic disciplines have various ways of documenting borrowed materials.  Each professor should make clear to you how he/she wants borrowed materials documented for given writing or programming assignments.  You should make every effort to understand precisely what your professor expects regarding documentation.  As long as you make a clear effort to document all borrowed materials, you are not plagiarizing.

Use of supplemental individualized instruction on an assignment

Various tutorial resources are available at the university, including a writing center and assistance from faculty who assist students during the process of composing a paper.  When you seek these kinds of legitimate academic assistance, you are not plagiarizing.  In fact, you are making an extraordinary attempt to improve your writing and academic performance.  In such cases, you should inform your instructor of the fact you have sought assistance from a given source on an assignment.  This acknowledgment should be stated on the cover sheet of your paper or program.  The prohibition against plagiarism should in no way inhibit or discourage you from seeking legitimate supplemental instruction in developing an assignment. 

Use of a proofreader

If you are unsure of your ability to produce finished drafts which are virtually error-free, you may use such resources as hired typists, more editorially proficient friends, tutors, or writing center personnel to insure your finished papers are relatively error-free.  You should indicate on the title page the fact your paper was typed and/or proofread by someone else.  The prohibition against plagiarism should in no way inhibit or discourage you from using available reference and/or human editorial resources in seeking to produce an error-free final copy of a paper.

In summary, plagiarism is the unacknowledged borrowing of another writer’s, speaker’s or programmer’s words and/or propositions.  To avoid plagiarism, you should acknowledge assistance received in developing and/or proofreading a paper.  If you need or desire such assistance, you should not be discouraged from seeking it because of the university policy on plagiarism.

Grade Appeals Policy

If you would like to appeal a final course grade, you do have recourse to an appeals procedure.  Each department has an Academic Appeals Committee, established to give students an avenue of appeal of final grades.

You must initiate an appeal of a final grade within 30 calendar days after the beginning of the semester following the issuance of the grade.  The summer term does not constitute a semester.  Any grade appeals or grade change requests initiated on the basis of alleged academic dishonesty will be handled under the procedures for Academic Dishonesty.

Details of the appeals procedures can be found in the undergraduate catalog.