Policy on Conduct and Discipline

Life in the Academic Community

The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science within Columbia University is a community. Admitted students, faculty, and administrators come together and work through committees and other representative bodies to pursue and to promote learning, scholarly inquiry, and free discourse. As in any community, principles of civility and reasoned interaction must be maintained. Thus, methods for addressing social as well as academic behaviors exist.

Standards and Discipline

As members of the Columbia University community, all students are expected to uphold the highest standards of respect, integrity, and civility. These core values are key components of the Columbia University experience and reflect the community's expectations of Columbia University students. Students are therefore expected to conduct themselves in an honest, civil, and respectful manner in all aspects of their lives. Students who violate standards of behavior related to academic or behavioral conduct interfere with their ability, and the ability of others, to take advantage of the full complement of University life, and will thus be subject to Dean's Discipline.

Undergraduate Community members may find a full description of University policies at: http://studentconduct. columbia.edu/.

We expect that in and out of the classroom, on and off campus, each student in the School will act in an honest way and will respect the rights of others. Freedom of expression is an essential part of University life, but it does not include intimidation, threats of violence, or the inducement of others to engage in violence or in conduct which harasses others. We state emphatically that conduct which threatens or harasses others because of their race, sex, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or for any other reason is unacceptable and will be dealt with severely. If each of us at Columbia can live up to these standards, we can be confident that all in our community will benefit fully from the diversity to be found here. Any undergraduate student who believes he or she has been victimized should speak with an adviser in the James H. and Christine Turk Berick Center for Student Advising, a member of the Residential Life staff, or a member of Student Conduct and Community Standards; graduate students should speak with an officer in the Office of Graduate Student Affairs.

While every subtlety of proper behavior cannot be detailed here, examples of other actions subject to discipline are:

  • Access, Unauthorized
  • Alcohol, Prohibited use of
  • Collusion
  • Columbia University Identification Card, Unauthorized use of
  • Columbia Identity (or affiliated organizations), Unauthorized use of
  • Disruptive Behavior
  • Failure to Comply
  • Entry/Egress, Unauthorized
  • Falsification
  • Federal, State, or Local laws, Violation of
  • Fire Safety Policies, Violation of
  • Illegal Drugs Policy, Violation of
  • Hazing
  • Information Technologies Policies, Violation of
  • Physical endangerment, Threats, and Harassment
  • Retaliation
  • Smoking Policy, Violation of University
  • Theft
  • Vandalism
  • Weapons

University Policies and Procedures

  • Rules of University Conduct
  • Guide to living
  • Gender-based Misconduct Policy for Students
  • Columbia University Information Technology (CUIT) policies and procedures
  • Undergraduate Student Travel Policy

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity defines a university and is essential to the mission of education. At Columbia students are expected to participate in an academic community that honors intellectual work and respects its origins. In particular, the abilities to synthesize information and produce original work are key components in the learning process. As such, a violation of academic integrity is one of the most serious offenses a student can commit at Columbia and can result in dismissal.

Students rarely set out with the intent of engaging in violations of academic integrity. But classes are challenging at Columbia, and students will often find themselves pressed for time, unprepared for an assignment or exam, or feeling that the risk of earning a poor grade outweighs the need to be thorough. Such circumstances lead some students to behave in a manner that compromises the integrity of the academic community, disrespects their instructors and classmates, and deprives them of an opportunity to learn. In short, they cheat. Students who find themselves in such circumstances should immediately contact their instructor and adviser for advice.

The easiest way to avoid the temptation to cheat in the first place is to prepare yourself as best you can. Here are some basic suggestions to help you along the way:

  • Understand what instructors deem as academic dishonesty and their policy on citation and group collaboration.
  • Clarify any questions or concerns about assignments with instructors as early as possible.
  • Develop a timeline for drafts and final edits of assignments and begin preparation in advance.
  • Avoid plagiarism: acknowledge people’s opinions and theories by carefully citing their words and always indicating sources.
  • Utilize the campus’s resources, such as the advising centers and Counseling and Psychological Services, if feeling overwhelmed, burdened, or pressured.
  • Assume that collaboration in the completion of assignments is prohibited unless specified by the instructor.

Plagiarism and Acknowledgment of Sources

Columbia has always believed that writing effectively is one of the most important goals a college student can achieve. Students will be asked to do a great deal of written work while at Columbia: term papers, seminar and laboratory reports, and analytic essays of different lengths. These papers play a major role in course performance, but more important, they play a major role in intellectual development. Plagiarism, the use of words, phrases, or ideas belonging to another, without properly citing or acknowledging the source, is considered one of the most serious violations of academic integrity and is a growing problem on university campuses.

One of the most prevalent forms of plagiarism involves students using information from the Internet without proper citation. While the Internet can provide a wealth of information, sources obtained from the web must be properly cited just like any other source. If you are uncertain how to properly cite a source of information that is not your own, whether from the Internet or elsewhere, it is critical that you do not hand in your work until you have learned the proper way to use in-text references, footnotes, and bibliographies. Faculty members are available to help as questions arise about proper citations, references, and the appropriateness of group work on assignments. You can also check with the Undergraduate Writing Program. Ignorance of proper citation methods does not exonerate one from responsibility.

Personal Responsibility, Finding Support, and More Information

A student’s education at Columbia University is comprised of two complementary components: a mastery over intellectual material within a discipline and the overall development of moral character and personal ethics. Participating in forms of academic dishonesty violates the standards of our community at Columbia and severely inhibits a student’s chance to grow academically, professionally, and socially. As such, Columbia’s approach to academic integrity is informed by its explicit belief that students must take full responsibility for their actions, meaning you will need to make informed choices inside and outside the classroom. Columbia offers a wealth of resources to help students make sound decisions regarding academics, extracurricular activities, and personal issues. If you don’t know where to go, see your advising dean.

Academic Integrity Policies and Expectations

Violations of policy may be intentional or unintentional and may include dishonesty in academic assignments or in dealing with University officials, including faculty and staff members. Moreover, dishonesty during the Dean’s Discipline hearing process may result in more serious consequences.

Types of academic integrity violations:

  • Academic Dishonesty, Facilitation of: assisting another student in a violation of academic integrity is prohibited. This may include but is not limited to selling and/or providing
  • Assistance, Unauthorized Giving: unauthorized assistance to another student or receiving unauthorized aid from another person on tests, quizzes, assignments or examinations without the instructor's express permission is prohibited.
  • Bribery: offering or giving any favor or thing of value for the purpose of improperly influencing a grade or other evaluation of a student in an academic program is prohibited.
  • Cheating: wrongfully using or attempting to use unauthorized materials, information, study aids, or the ideas or work of another in order to gain an unfair advantage is prohibited. Cheating includes, but is not limited to, using or consulting unauthorized materials or using unauthorized equipment or devices on tests, quizzes, assignments or examinations, working on any examination, text, quiz or assignment outside of the time constraints imposed, the unauthorized use of prescription medication to enhance academic performance, and /or submitting an altered examination or assignment to an instructor for re-grading.
  • Collaboration, Unauthorized: collaborating on academic work without the instructor's permission is prohibited. This includes, but is not limited to, unauthorized collaboration on tests, quizzes, assignments, labs, and projects.
  • Dishonesty: falsification, forgery, or misrepresentation of information to any University official in order to gain an unfair academic advantage in coursework or lab work, on any application, petition, or documents submitted to this University is prohibited. This includes, but is not limited to, falsifying information on a resume, fabrication of credentials or academic records, misrepresenting one's own research, providing false or misleading information in order to be excused from classes or assignments and/or intentionally underperforming on a placement exam.
  • Ethics, Honor Codes, and Professional Standards, Violation of: any violation of published institutional policies related to ethics, honor codes, or professional standards of a student's respective school is prohibited.
  • Failing to Safeguard Work: failure to take precautions to safeguard one's own work is prohibited.
  • Giving or Taking Academic Materials, Unauthorized: unauthorized circulation or sharing of past or present course material(s) without the instructor's express permission is prohibited. This includes, but is not limited to assignments, exams, lab reports, notebooks, and papers.
  • Obtaining Advanced Knowledge: unauthorized advanced access to exams or other assignments without an instructor's express permission is prohibited.
  • Plagiarism: the use of words, phrases, or ideas belonging to another without properly citing or acknowledging the source is prohibited. This may include, but is not limited to, copying computer programs for the purposes of completing assignments for submission.
  • Sabotage: inappropriately and deliberately harming someone else's academic performance is prohibited.
  • Self-Plagiarism: using any material portion of an assignment to fulfill the requirements of more than one course without the instructor's express permission is prohibited.
  • Test Conditions: violations of compromising a testing environment or violating specified testing conditions, to intentionally or unintentionally create access to an unfair advantage for oneself or others is prohibited.

Disciplinary Procedures

Many policy violations that occur in the Residence Halls or within fraternity and sorority housing are handled by Residential Life. Some serious offenses are referred directly to Student Conduct and Community Standards. Violations in University Apartment Housing are handled by building managers and housing officials. Some incidents are referred directly to the School’s housing liaison in the Office of Graduate Student Affairs.

In matters involving rallies, picketing, and other mass demonstrations, the Rules of University Conduct outlines procedures. Student Conduct and Community Standards is responsible for all disciplinary affairs concerning undergraduate students that are not reserved to some other body.

The Office of Graduate Student Affairs is responsible for all disciplinary affairs concerning graduate students that are not reserved to some other body.

Dean's Discipline Process for Undergraduate and Graduate Students

It is expected that all students act in an honest way and respect the rights of others at all time. Dean's Discipline is the process utilized to investigate and respond to allegations of behavioral or academic misconduct. The Dean's Discipline process is not meant to be an adversarial or legal process, but instead aims to educate students about the impact their behavior may have on their own lives as well as on the greater community and, as a result, is not meant to be an adversarial or legal process. The process is initiated when an allegation is reported that a student may have violated University policies. Students may be subject to Dean's Discipline for any activity that occurs on or off campus that impinges on the rights of other students and community members. This also includes violations of local, state, or federal laws. Student Conduct and Community Standards is responsible for administering the Dean's Discipline disciplinary process all disciplinary affairs concerning students that are not reserved to some other body. Students are expected to familiarize themselves with the Standards and Discipline handbook and the comprehensive list of policies and expectations available on the Students Conduct and Community Standards website.. For more information about the discipline process for graduate students, please contact the Office of Graduate Student Affairs.


Privacy and Reporting: Disciplinary proceedings conducted by the University are subject to the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act ("FERPA," also called "The Buckley Amendment"). There are several important exceptions to FERPA that will allow the University to release information to third parties without a student's consent. For example, the release of student disciplinary records is permitted without prior student consent to University officials with a legitimate educational interest such as a student's academic advisor and to Columbia Athletics if the student is an athlete. The University will also release information when a student gives written permission for information when a student gives written permission for information to be shared. To obtain a FERPA waiver, please visit www.columbia. edu/cu/studentconduct/documents/ FerpaRelease.pdf. To read more about the exceptions that apply to the disclosure of student records information, please visit: www.essentialpolicies. columbia.edu/policy-access-studentrecordferpa.

Students found responsible for reportable violations of conduct, including academic integrity violations, may face reports of such offenses on future recommendations for law, medical, or graduate school. Students found responsible for any violations of conduct may be disqualifited from receiving Latin Honors or other awards. The parents or guardians of undergraduate students may also be notified.