University merges cheating watchdog with judicial office

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Tim Terpstra, director of academic integrity, will look to raise the visibility of his office by merging with the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities.

The University’s main disciplinary arm is taking on academic integrity cases alongside alcohol, drug and other violations of the student code of conduct, bolstering efforts to prevent cheating on campus.

The Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities last week absorbed the Office of Academic Integrity, mirroring office structures at universities like Duke and Johns Hopkins. The move seeks to raise the profile of academic integrity and decrease the number of students involved in cheating, plagiarism and other violations of the University’s code of academic integrity.

Cases of cheating, plagiarism and falsification reached an all-time high at GW last year with 145 incidents.

Dean of Students Peter Konwerski said the merger is part of a series of efforts to address academic dishonesty, including teaming up with the Student Association and highlighting academic integrity at Colonial Inauguration and during Welcome Week.

“We believe that through partnerships within and outside of the Division of Student Affairs, we will increase our education and prevention efforts, which will lead to fewer students engaging in these types of behaviors,” Konwerski said in an email.

Konwerski added that the administrative shift will link social and academic behavior to bring about a “more comprehensive approach to informing” students and faculty, but declined to say whether the administrative shift is trying to send a message that students should consider plagiarism and cheating on par with alcohol and drug violations.

The dean of students also declined to go into detail about potential staffing shake-ups, calling such discussions “premature.”

Gabriel Slifka, director of student rights and responsibilities, and Timothy Terpstra, director of academic integrity, did not return requests for comment.

“Joining with student affairs is a natural fit and the subsequent enhanced resources will benefit both students and faculty in better promoting a climate of mutual trust and learning, civility and integrity,” Terpstra said in a release last week.

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