Why involve OSAI?
OSAI is frequently asked why instructors who have identified an academic offence can’t resolve the matter informally, by assigning the student a low grade for the offending assignment or by giving "make-up" work to replace the offending assignment. This is a very good question. A simple answer is: the Code specifies the process that everyone at the University is required to follow.
Following the official process has definite advantages:
- Fairness and consistency. A centralized offence-resolution process helps ensure fairness to students, impartiality in case judgments, and consistency in sanctioning.
- Access to information. Department administrators and OSAI staff have full access to ROSI (Repository of Student Information) data, and can see if a student is experiencing difficulties beyond the course in question, or has been sanctioned for a prior offence. That information can be invaluable for deciding how to proceed with a case and/or directing a student in need to appropriate campus resources.
- Identifying repeat offenders. OSAI helps identify repeat offenders and prevent students from engaging in misconduct in multiple courses. Some repeat offenders cite leniency for past infractions as an indication that the University does not take academic integrity seriously.
- Identifying and assisting students in need. Frequently, during the course of an investigation, it becomes apparent that academic misconduct is symptomatic of deeper underlying problems (e.g., difficult family or work situations, illness, etc.). These types of issues are often not revealed if an offence is resolved informally. Engaging in the process can be an incentive for students to seek support they need. OSAI is diligent about referring students to the appropriate student services.
- OSAI experience. Academic integrity officers are experienced in researching and investigating academic offences. They often discover additional evidence or serious concerns that are not immediately apparent and might not be identified or addressed through informal case resolution. OSAI officers are particularly experienced in investigating complicated offences such as purchased papers and fraudulent documentation (e.g., falsified medical notes or transcripts), which can be time-consuming and often require additional resources.