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Appealing the

instructor's decision

Prof. Teach has found you guilty of violating the Code of Academic Integrity. If you feel that the procedures that the Code identifies were not properly followed, the decision is wrong, or the penalty is too harsh, you can appeal to the Academic Integrity Hearing Board (AIHB) of Prof. Teach’s college. This webpage should help you understand the appeal process and how to proceed.

Grounds for appeal

If Prof. John Teach finds you guilty of a violation of the Code of Academic Integrity and assigns a penalty, you can appeal to the Academic Integrity Hearing Board (AIHB) of Prof. Teach's college on any or all of three grounds.

  • You think the primary-hearing procedure was unfair.
  • You believe you are innocent and contest the guilty charge.
  • You think the penalty was too severe, considering the violation.

You have ten working days to file your appeal. Contact information for the AIHB should be in the letter Prof. Teach sends you regarding his finding of guilty. If it is not provided, contact your college advisng office for help.

What is the Academic Integrity Hearing Board (AIHB)?

The AIHB in each college consists of a chair (a faculty member appointed by the Dean) and a number of faculty and students who may be elected or appointed, depending on the college. In addition, a record keeper keeps records of each case (unless the student is found not guilty, in which case the records are destroyed).

What will the AIHB do when you appeal?

Upon receiving your appeal, the AIHB chair will schedule an AIHB hearing. Everyone will be given at least seven days notice of the hearing, although it can be held sooner if everyone agrees.

If you are contesting the finding of guilt or Prof. Teach has requested the hearing, the AIHB will hear your case de novo, which means that you are considered innocent unless and until the AIHB finds you guilty. Professor Teach has to make the case to them. The AIHB will have access to proceedings of the primary hearing, if held, through the independent witness. A full explanation of what goes on at the hearing appears later in this webpage.

What are possible outcomes of the AIHB hearing?

The AIHB may find you not guilty or guilty.

If the AIHB finds you not guilty, all records of your case will be erased. Prof. Teach may not penalize you.

If the AIHB finds you guilty, they can recommend a variety of penalties, both grade-related and non-grade-related.

Grade-related penalties

The AIHB has three choices regarding penalties. The AIHB may:

  • Affirm the grade penalty that Prof. Teach imposed. He will normally act in accordance with the recommendation,
  • Recommend that Prof. Teach reduce the grade penalty that he imposed. Prof. Teach is not bound by this recommendation, or
  • Recommend that Prof. Teach increase the grade penalty that he imposed. This is an extremely rare occurrence. Again, Prof. Teach is not bound by this recommendation.

Non-grade-related penalties

Aside from the AIHB’s recommendations to Prof. Teach concerning grade-related penalties, the AIHB may recommend to the dean of your college a variety of penalties that are non-grade-related. For example, the AIHB can recommend that a note be placed on your transcript; that you be placed on probation, be suspended, or be expelled; that you undergo counseling; or that you be required to complete community service. The AIHB will recommend non-grade-related penalties based on the seriousness of your violation and on the manner in which you conduct yourself during the proceedings—not on your decision to appeal.

Who will attend the AIHB hearing?

Your AIHB hearing will be attended by members of the AIHB, Prof. Teach, you, and the independent witness from the primary hearing.

Prof. Teach may ask other people who were involved in uncovering the alleged violation to be present, for example, a teaching assistant in the course.

You can also ask others to attend, including witnesses who can testify on your behalf, as well as an advisor (usually a faculty member, a Judicial Codes Counselor, or another member of the Cornell community).

In extremely rare cases, students have asked whether their attorney or even a parent may attend. Although the Code does not specify who may attend as your advisor, the Code does make clear the advisor’s limited role: “The student’s advisor may assist the student in the presentation and questioning.”

As a courtesy to the AIHB chair—and in order to avoid delays during your appeal hearing—at your earliest convenience let the AIHB chair know who will accompany you to the hearing.

Will other students charged by Prof. Teach be at the hearing?

For an alleged violation in which two or more students are charged, the AIHB chair will determine whether to conduct separate hearings or a joint hearing. Although the Code is silent on this topic, the AIHB chair must weigh a student’s desire for confidentiality against the AIHB’s need for expediency. The AIHB chair may determine that the Board can best proceed by having all students being charged present at the same time.

How do you prepare for the hearing?

Prepare as you did for the primary hearing, including talking the matter over with others such as your academic advisor and a judicial codes counselor.

What are Judicial Codes Counselors, and how can they help

Cornell has a Judicial Codes Counselor (JCC) office, which is staffed by students from the Cornell Law School. JCCs can advise you on the Code of Academic Integrity, can help you understand how the academic integrity system works at Cornell, and can help you prepare your appeal. JCCs may also come to your AIHB hearing, but only to support you and give you advice, not to act as your lawyer, presenting the case on your behalf.

What if you don’t show up at the AIHB hearing?

Since you requested the hearing by appealing Prof. Teach's decision, it is in your best interests to show up. If for some reason you can't make it, by all means contact the chair of the AIHB and explain the situation. If you simply don't show up, the hearing will probably go on without you. The Code reads, "Should the student or faculty member fail to appear before the Hearing Board, the Board shall have full authority to proceed in his or her absence."

What goes on at the AIHB hearing?

Generally, an AIHB hearing follows this pattern: (1) preliminaries; (2) Prof. Teach's statement; (3) your statement; (4) closing statements; (5) deliberation by the AIHB; and (6) statement of the decision. The chair moderates the hearing and may also question all parties and witnesses. The goal is to discover what happened—and whether you violated the Code. The chair seeks to ensure that statements and evidence presented are succinct and pertain to the case at hand.

AIHB members have the opportunity to question everyone as they present their statements and evidence: Prof. Teach, his witnesses, you, and your witnesses. And you and Prof. Teach have the opportunity to question each other—and any witnesses—as they present their argument or evidence. The independent witness (at the primary hearing) may be asked to speak. The AIHB chair exercises discretion to limit questions and maintain order.

  1. Preliminaries. The AIHB chair establishes that all key parties are present: a quorum of AIHB members, Prof. Teach, you, and the independent witness. The chair may introduce everyone or ask them to introduce themselves. The chair will outline the proceeding and give a brief opening statement about the purpose of the hearing.
  2. Instructor statement. Prof. Teach presents the case. His witnesses may present their testimony at the appropriate time.
  3. Your statement. You make your case. You can ask your witnesses to speak. The judicial codes counselor or other advisors may assist you in an advisory role, but it is your case to make.
  4. Closing statements. Prof. Teach and you may make brief closing statements.
  5. Deliberation by the AIHB. Everyone leaves the room except the AIHB members, who remain behind to deliberate. The chair will either dismiss you and Prof. Teach or ask both of your to wait outside the hearing room—in case the AIHB members need either of you to return and clarify any points as they deliberate. (The chair may allow those whose presence is no longer needed to leave.) Any new evidence introduced must be shared with both Prof. Teach and you before a decision is reached. The AIHB deliberates and reaches a decision about the verdict and penalty.
  6. Statement of decision. In some colleges, the AIHB will call in you, Prof. Teach, and any advisors and tell you the outcome of the deliberation. In other colleges, this does not happen.

In any case, you and Prof. Teach will receive notice of the decision in writing shortly afterward.

Can someone represent you at the AIHB hearing?

During the AIHB hearing, you represent yourself. You make your statement, ask your witnesses to speak, and ask questions of Prof. Teach and others. Any advisor who accompanies you to an AIHB hearing is there in an advisory capacity only, not to represent you. The AIHB hearing is not a legal proceeding; it is part of the academic and educational arena, an opportunity for members of the academic community to investigate and deliberate.

Before the hearing begins, your advisor may assist you by helping you to prepare your remarks, assemble your evidence, and even prepare a written statement that you might read during the hearing.

During the hearing, your advisor may assist you by whispering to you, writing notes to you, or otherwise providing private assistance—but not to speaking on your behalf. The AIHB chair might allow the advisor to provide brief comments concerning points or procedure or clarification. And exceptional circumstances may arise—such as a student who has linguistic challenges or second-language challenges—circumstances that may cause the AIHB chair to allow an advisor to speak on behalf of a student.

Can you appeal if the AIHB finds you guilty?

If the AIHB finds you guilty, you may appeal to the dean of your college (not the instructor's college), generally within four weeks of notification of the AIHB's decision. Read about the appeal to the dean here.

Can you drop the course?

You cannot drop the course without Prof. Teach's consent. The Code reads, "A student charged with violating the Code of Academic Integrity in a course may not drop that course without the consent of the instructor unless the student has subsequently been cleared of the charges."