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Inaugural integrity week starts at MSU

October 29, 2012

By STEVEN NALLEY
educ@starkvilledailynews.com

Mississippi State University is hosting its first annual Academic Integrity Week Monday thru Thursday, promoting not only academic honesty but also integrity in athletics, job searches, research, interpersonal relationships and more.

Bill Kibler, MSU vice president for student affairs, said a central component of the week is the Student Honor Code MSU created in 2007, which asks students to “conduct (themselves) with honor and integrity at all times ... (and) not lie, cheat or steal, nor ... accept the actions of those who do.” Both the code and the integrity week are intended as a proactive approach to preventing academic dishonesty.

“(The honor code) is posted in every classroom on the campus,” Kibler said. “(Students) even see it for the first time on the admissions application for MSU. Beyond just (addressing) students that are cheating, the honor code sets forth an array of expectations. We are far more interested in promoting academic integrity than in preventing academic dishonesty.”

James Orr, honor council director at MSU’s Student Honor Code Office, said the College of Business has held an Ethics Week in the past, and this week expands the concept across the entire campus. He said academic dishonesty is a problem across American universities, particularly when high school students first enter them.

“Research shows that 70 percent of high school students across the country ... when they get to the university environment ... (have) either cheated or knew someone who was cheating on campus,” Orr said.

“The goal of the honor code at MSU is to create a culture, (so) when students get to Mississippi State, they know that cheating, plagiarism and things of that nature are (things) we just don’t do on campus.”

Academic Integrity Week is also aimed at teaching students how to avoid academic misconduct because they may be unaware of some rules. For instance, Orr said, many students know they could be sanctioned for plagiarism if they do not cite sources appropriately, but fewer know about other pitfalls.

“We also have ‘complicity,’” he said. “If a course instructor says you are to do an assignment by yourself, and you provide assistance to someone, then you are complicit because you are giving them unauthorized assistance. We also have ‘multiple submissions’ ... submissions for central portions of an assignment that you’ve already submitted in another class for credit. Just because you did the assignment yourself in one class, you can’t take that assignment and submit it in another class unless you’ve got direct permission from your instructor.”

Academic Integrity Week also emphasizes integrity outside the classroom, including integrity in the workplace after students graduate, Orr said. For example, he said, the week kicked off Monday with a movie night featuring MSU Athletic Director Scott Stricklin and “Shattered Glass,” the story of Stephen Glass’s years of fraudulent journalism and the fallout when the truth was uncovered.

Other events slated for the week include “HIPPA, Healthcare and the Honor Code,” “Respect the Code: Academic Integrity with the Office of Athletics Academics” and “Job Search/Workplace Ethics,” concluding with a visit from Kenyan ambassador Elkanah Odembo Thursday from 7-8 p.m. at McCool Hall.
A full schedule is available at http://www.honorcode.msstate.edu/events.

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