Transcripts may reflect offenses

By Peter Schuh

If a Graduate Council proposal regarding academic misconduct is implemented, students with questionable academic pasts will carry a grim token of their misconduct on their transcripts.

A proposal to be voted on during the council’s April 5 meeting would provide for a student’s academic misconduct record to be noted on his or her transcript. The proposal is being made by the Graduate Council Standards Committee.

“What the committee is recommending is that if a graduate student is found guilty of academic misconduct then the transcript should accurately record the misconduct offense,” said Jerrold Zar, associate provost for Graduate Studies and Research and dean of the Graduate School. “The transcript by its very definition is a complete record of the student’s academic activity.”

The academic misconduct notation would stay on the student’s transcript as long as the period of suspension or expulsion which was a result of the offense.

Academic misconduct includes offenses like plagiarism and other forms of cheating such as handing in another student’s work, changing answers after an exam has been graded and “reckless eyeballing.”

“That’s what the transcript tells,” Zar said. “If you are dismissed for academic misconduct another university would like to know if you are a cheater or plagiarist or whatever—although the transcript is not that descriptive.”

The longest term a student can be expelled for cheating is four years. This also would be the longest period of time an academic misconduct notation could stay on a student’s transcript by the current guidelines of the proposal.

“The transcript would be alerting to other universities during that time only,” Zar said. “But, of course, the transcript only goes to places the student wants it to go.”

Zar said students could request information in writing from NIU’s Records and Registration office, such as Grade Point Average, class standing and coursework completed, without using a university transcript.

Zar said most universities do not note academic misconduct on transcripts and that the few which do use the measure infrequently.

“The reason it came up was in a discussion (of the Graduate Council Standards Committee) about what kind of information should go on a transcript,” he said.

However, the proposal must travel farther than the Graduate Council before it is implemented.

Zar said, “If it were to be approved by the Graduate Council it will be transmitted to the University Council by the minutes of the Graduate Council and the University Council can decide whether or not to discuss it.”