Student Handbook - Academic Policies

Academic Honor Code

(Adopted September 1, 2012)


Union College recognizes the need to create an environment of mutual trust as part of its educational mission. Trust among students ensures that no student has an unfair advantage over another; trust between faculty and students ensures that the effort both parties put into preparation and evaluation of assigned work is not wasted, but can truly advance understanding and learning for students.  Creation of this environment of trust is the responsibility of the entire academic community: faculty, staff and students.  It requires that students submit work that is prepared in accordance with the course instructor’s requirements and that faculty foster an environment of academic honesty. Toward this end, professors will uphold the high ethical standards of their discipline, provide to their students clear guidance on the policy and practice of academic integrity, and fairly evaluate students’ work. To help establish mutual assurance of intellectual honesty, Union College expects students to sign the Honor Code Affirmation.  Matriculation at the College is taken to signify implicit agreement with the Code.

Academic Integrity

Responsible participation in an academic community requires respect not only for oneself, but also for the thoughts and work of others, whether expressed in the present or in some distant time and place. If you owe an intellectual debt, the principles of academic honesty and integrity require that you acknowledge it.  Academic dishonesty is a rejection of the very purposes and ideals for which the College stands: personal integrity, independence of thought, critical understanding, and responsibility for one’s own work.  

Forms of Academic Dishonesty

Academic dishonesty can take many forms, including, but not limited to: 


Plagiarism has been variously defined, but nearly all definitions have in common the idea that plagiarism is a form of theft. One author describes plagiarism as “the false assumption of authorship: the wrongful act of taking the product of another’s mind, and presenting it as one’s own” (Alexander Lindey, Plagiarism and Originality. New York: Harper, 1952: 2). Plagiarism involves at least two elements: (1) taking something produced or created by someone else; (2) failing to give proper indication that you have done this. Further information and additional examples may be found in the Union College Statement on Plagiarism.


Cheating is the improper use of study aids (notes, study guides, and other outside information) in examinations or on other graded materials, or the taking of information from a source not specifically authorized.  Collaboration, whether acknowledged or not, on work that is supposed to be one's own is also considered cheating. The amount of permissible collaboration will vary from class to class; students should consult with their instructors to find out how much collaboration is permitted. Students should err on the side of caution, and not assume that collaboration is permitted.

Falsification of data or evidence

Falsification of data or evidence is altering or fabricating any information, data, or citation that may mislead those reading an assignment. 

Submitting Work You Have Done For Another Class As Though It Were New

An assignment submitted for a particular course is assumed to be done solely for that course. Submitting the same or similar document previously completed for another course without the instructor’s approval is considered to be misconduct.

Helping Someone Else Commit An Act Of Academic Dishonesty

Knowingly allowing someone to copy from one’s paper during an examination or test; knowingly allowing someone to submit your lab report or homework as their own. 

Forgery On Academic Documents

For example, forging a faculty signature on a declaration of major form or course withdrawal form.

Student Responsibility

By joining the Union College community, every student agrees to understand and abide by the Honor Code and Affirmation that is hereby set forth.  It is the responsibility of the student to ensure that submitted work is his or her own and does not involve any form of academic misconduct. Students need to exercise common sense in making decisions regarding their academic conduct in and outside of the classroom. All students are expected and encouraged to ask their course instructor for any clarification regarding, but not limited to, collaboration, citations, and plagiarism.

Faculty Responsibility

At the beginning of each trimester, faculty members are requested to include in their syllabus the College’s code regarding academic conduct, or at least a reference to it. Every member of the faculty is responsible for explaining how the academic integrity code applies to his or her specific course. This includes examinations (which may be proctored or not), the degree to which students may collaborate in work submitted for a grade, and the expectations with respect to the use of outside sources in submitted work.

Additional Questions

Additional questions concerning the Academic Honor Code may be addressed to the Chair of the Honor Council.

The Honor Code Affirmation

As a student at Union College, I am part of a community that values intellectual effort, curiosity and discovery.  I understand that in order to truly claim my educational and academic achievements, I am obligated to act with academic integrity.  Therefore, I affirm that I will carry out my academic endeavors with full academic honesty, and I rely on my fellow students to do the same.