Webster has policies, procedures, and practices that support ethical and professional conduct for all of its constituents: students, faculty, staff and administration, and Trustees.
The University’s catalogs contain a statement of ethics and student conduct expectations (Undergraduate Studies Catalog, p.16; Graduate Studies Catalog, p.7). These statements include the right to free inquiry, and outline the expected standards for academic honor and integrity, respect for the rights and property of others, and concern for the safety and well-being of the community.
Additionally, the University Faculty Handbook contains explanations and policies regarding faculty affairs. The Student Affairs Office annually distributes a “Student Handbook” which also details ethical conduct expected of University students, as well as the policies, procedures and sanctions for dealing with unacceptable behavior and actions.
[EXHIBIT: HLC0i University Handbook, HLC0.1 Undergraduate Catalog, HLC0.2 Graduate Catalog, HLC0.28 Student Ethics Statement, HLC0ii Student Handbook]
To ensure that University research is conducted in an ethical and legal manner, a standing committee – The Institutional Review Board (IRB) – oversees research and the researcher’s responsibilities, including confidentiality and consent for human subjects, humane treatment for animal subjects, responsibilities for record keeping, etc. Researchers are referred to governing federal policies when applicable.
[EXHIBIT: HLC4d.1 IRB]
A number of other standing committees oversee or enforce relevant policies and procedures regarding integrity and student conduct. The University Judicial Board reviews charges of student violations of University rules and regulations when suspension or expulsion may result. The academic deans review violations of conduct impacting the status of a student in a faculty members’ course. The University Grievance process provides access for faculty, staff, or students to pursue unprofessional or unethical complaints. Webster also has an employee ethics policy, which recognizes the highest ethical and professional standards of conduct that are an integral part of our mission.
[EXHIBIT: HLC0.26 Ethics Point Web Site, HLC0ii Student Handbook, HLC0.27 Grievance Policy]
The University has also established an Ethics Reporting Hotline to provide a simple, anonymous method to report unethical or illegal misconduct or violation of University conduct. This Reporting Hotline is easily found in the Human Resources Department Web site. Trustees have been very supportive of insuring high ethical standards, in part because of the enhanced standards and practices resulting from the Sarbanes- Oxley Act (2002).
[EXHIBIT: HLC0.26 Ethics Point Web Site]
Intellectual Property Rights
The University’s handbooks and catalogs outline in considerable detail the policies regarding plagiarism, student cheating, software use, copyright infringement, technology downloads and file sharing, photocopying, and computer-related infringements. The Faculty Development Center (FDC) maintains a detailed guide for faculty on copyright and Fair Use Policies, as approved by the Office of Academic Affairs. This helpful website guides our academic community on fair use practices and resources.
Student Academic Integrity
The University expects that academic integrity is a responsibility of all students, faculty and staff. The self-study found increased concern among the community over academic misconduct (cheating and plagiarism). Faculty and staff regularly explain to students the proper concepts of academic integrity and intellectual property.
The Schools and Colleges are actively encouraging faculty to address plagiarism in their syllabi, and to directly discuss academic honesty in their courses. Increased incidents of cheating are due, in part, to the easy access of information from modern technology (Internet). The Emerson Library provides a database (Turnitin) which allows faculty to submit digital copies of student papers and assignments to be checked for originality against Internet sources and term paper databases. The library also provides training resources on integrity for students and faculty to assist their academic work.
[EXHIBIT: HLC4d.3 Student Academic Integrity]