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Office of Student Conduct

Sanctions For Academic Charges

The central role of a university is to discover and disseminate new knowledge. It is a prerequisite of this process that members of the university community are open and honest in their dealings with each other. Academic integrity promotes the development and expression of new ideas and enhances the quality of each student's education and allows for the recognition of the genuine accomplishments and achievements of all.

The central idea behind imposing a sanction on a student is to reaffirm the values of the academic and university community, both to the student and the community. In addition, this leads to the moral development of individuals found responsible, while at the same time serving as a deterrent to others. The mere act of wrong-doing justifies a sanction being imposed even if the student appears remorseful and understands the dishonesty of the act.

The University of Maryland, College Park has not adopted a "single sanction" sanction process for a couple of reasons. First, a single, harsh penalty (exemplified by the University of Virginia's automatic expulsion policy) can lead to a reluctance to punish those found responsible. Second, a lenient assignment of sanctions trivializes the act of dishonesty. In both cases, the likely result surely would be fewer cases reported, a culture of acceptance of dishonesty, and the uncontrolled spread of academic fraud.

All of the acts of academic dishonesty defined in Code of Academic Integrity require that the student intentionally perform the act. However, this does NOT require that the student have intent when committing plagiarism, for example. It merely requires that the student intentionally commit an act that is in fact plagiarism.

Normal Sanction for Undergraduate Students: The grade of "XF"

This is the "normal sanction" under the Code of Academic Integrity. The grade appears on the student's transcript with the notation "Failure due to academic dishonesty."

The denotation of "normal" means that there is a presumption that this is the sanction to be imposed. The burden primarily rests with the complaining party, but responsibility also rests with the responding party and members of the board to show that there were specific and significant mitigating or aggravating factors which would warrant a different penalty (whether less severe or more severe).

The grade of "XF" serves as a deterrent insofar as it is significantly more severe than a mere "F." A student who is already failing a course would have no incentive not to cheat if he/she felt that the only penalty he/she was likely to receive was an "F." In general, therefore, the Board should not sanction the student by giving him/her a lower grade for the course than he/she would otherwise have received. Not only is deterrence lost, but a member of the teaching staff is the only person in a position to assign grades on the basis of the student's ability and mastery of the course material (i.e., grades "A" through "F"). Further, it should be remembered that the purpose of the Code is to—as much as possible—remove the faculty member from a position of resolving academic dishonesty cases.

The student can petition the Student Honor Council to change the grade of "XF" to "F" if three conditions are satisfied:

  • Twelve months have passed since the grade of "XF" was imposed;
  • The student has successfully completed the Academic Integrity Seminar, conducted by the Student Honor Council in conjunction with the Office of Student Conduct; and
  • The student has not been found responsible for another act of academic dishonesty or similar offense at Maryland or another higher education institution.

Once these requirements have been met, the student must petition (i.e., complete a questionnaire) the Student Honor Council. The Council may then exercise its discretion and change the grade of "XF" to "F."

If the Board decides not to sanction the student with a grade of "XF," it must be careful to indicate to the faculty member of the course in which the incident occurred what grade should be given to the student or, at least, indicate what mechanism should be used to calculate a grade for the student. It would be useful for the Board to discuss this issue with the faculty member, if possible.

Other Possible Sanctions:

"F" in the class or a "0" on the assignment/exam.

This sanction is given when the majority of Board members believe that sufficient mitigating factors exist to warrant a penalty less severe than an "XF."


This penalty denotes the separation of the student from the University. The suspended student shall not participate in any University sponsored activity and may be barred from University premises.

The Board must specify the length of suspension and when it should begin. Suspensions may be withheld and only become effective if the student commits another act of academic dishonesty. Suspensions may also be deferred and come into effect only after a specified period of time. Finally, suspensions may be truncated (in unusual cases) if there is some specified mechanism for the student's return to the University (e.g., demonstration of remorse, understanding of the seriousness of the act, and a clean record since the sanction). Permanent notification of the suspension may appear on the student's transcript. The Board should indicate whether transcript notification is appropriate.


This is the most severe single sanction. The student is permanently separated from the University. Notification will appear on the student's transcript. The student also will be barred from the University premises.