The Honor Code is the foundation of academics and excellence at the Medical University of South Carolina.
The Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) strives for the total development of the student into a professional. When entering MUSC, students become part of a much larger professional community and therefore are expected to uphold the moral integrity and ethical standards of their profession. This transition includes consistently abiding by moral character and honorable principles.
The University Honor Code provides the framework in which each student may further develop principles of character and integrity. Each college’s Honor Council’s primary goal is to educate students on the precise nature of their mistakes and only secondarily to discipline them for those mistakes. In their deliberations, Honor Councils will adjudicate cases based on the principle that students should be accountable for their actions and decisions.
Students are responsible for holding themselves and their peers accountable to the University Honor Code. The close relationship students enjoy with the faculty enables the Honor Councils to meet the needs of individual students and MUSC equitably. All have a fundamental investment in the enterprise of academic work, and all must share the responsibility for ensuring its integrity.
The central purpose of the Honor Code is to sustain and protect an environment of mutual respect and trust in which students can enjoy the freedom to develop their intellectual and personal potential. The foundation of the Honor Code depends entirely upon the willingness of every individual to adhere to the basic principles of honesty and agree never to lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do. Students or faculty who believe that a breach of the Honor Code has occurred are obligated to report the suspected breach to their college’s Honor Council. A breach of the Honor Code is a serious offense. Such a violation is an affront to each of us independently as well as collectively.
The adoption of the Honor Code leads to an atmosphere of trust where students are expected to tell the truth, live honestly, advance on individual merit, and demonstrate deep respect for others in the academic, clinical, and research communities. The acceptance of the Honor Code assures that the integrity of students is unquestioned and accepted by all in the academic, clinical, and research communities.
The Honor Code presumes the absolute honesty of each individual. As a result, students live with the freedom of knowing that: 1) their integrity, intentions, work, and word are unquestioned; 2) their personal property and academic work is respected and free from theft; and 3) classroom, clinical, and research environments for learning and evaluation are honorable. Trust in these beliefs is established, maintained, and protected by students rather than by faculty.
The Honor Councils subscribe to the following concepts in attempt to adjudicate cases fairly for the accused, MUSC, and all others concerned:
The goal of each Honor Council is to instill and maintain a culture of honor and integrity by promoting high standards of character within the student body and promoting professional ethics. This goal cannot be obtained without the personal involvement and commitment of students, administrators, mentors, and faculty. The Honor Council is considered separate from any court of law and therefore shall have no bearing on legal or criminal proceedings.
Each college at MUSC has its own Honor Council composed of elected members from that college. These Honor Councils are responsible for educating everyone in their respective colleges on the meaning and importance of the Honor Code, investigating reported infractions within the college and participating in hearings in an unbiased manner.
The presidents of each college's Honor Council serve as that college's representative on the University Honor Council. The Student Government Association's Vice President of Academic Affairs serves as Chair of the University Honor Council and organizes meetings at least once each semester. The University Honor Council allows sharing of ideas and insights gained from experiences around MUSC so that the individual colleges' Honor Councils can better perform their duties. The University Honor Council meets at the end of each semester to report and discuss any violations that have occurred during that semester. The presidents of the individual Honor Councils are to bring a report of all charges, decisions, and sanctions. All names are to be removed from these documents to ensure confidentiality. The Chair of the University Honor Council will compile these reports, remove any reference to college or program, and present this information to the Student Government Association. Any charges, decisions, and sanctions will be posted in the Minutes of the Student Government Association General Meeting and on the University-Wide- Honor Code's website. A student with a "not guilty" verdict can request to have his or her name included in this report. This forum also allows for reporting violations, decisions, and sanctions while maintaining the privacy of the convicted student.
The Honor Council in each college functions to discharge the responsibility entrusted by students and faculty to discourage dishonesty and, within their purview, recognize dishonest practices that directly bear upon students and their relationships with their fellows, faculty, patients, college, and MUSC. Every student enrolled at MUSC is expected to abide by the Honor Code.
The Honor Code applies to all activities and all behaviors pertaining to the academic, research, and clinical work of every student enrolled at MUSC, as well as any conduct within the MUSC community which undermines either the trust of one's fellow students or the spirit of the Honor Code. All academic assignments, all laboratory work, all research, all examinations, and all clinical work are encompassed, as is the professional character and conduct of students enrolled at MUSC.
This Honor Code cannot anticipate every offense. Any unethical behavior not specifically mentioned in this code is a violation. Specific incidents must be considered with regard to the context in which they occur, the alleged infraction, as well as the magnitude of the alleged offense. Violations of the Honor Code include, but are not limited to, the following acts that violate academic integrity:
Each college has an Honor Council. The Honor Councils for the Colleges of Medicine and Pharmacy consist of three representatives from each class, at least two faculty representatives, and an Honor Council Faculty Advisor. The Honor Council for the College of Dental Medicine consists of two representatives from each class, at least two faculty representatives, and an Honor Council Faculty Advisor. The Honor Council for the College of Nursing consists of two students from the RN-BSN cohort, two students from the BSN fall cohort, two students from the BSN spring cohort, one MSN student, three DNP students, and two PhD students. The Honor Council for the College of Graduate Studies consists of one representative from each program, at least two faculty representatives, and an Honor Council Faculty Advisor. The Honor Council for the College of Health Professions consists of at least one representative from each class within each program, at least two faculty representatives, and an Honor Council Faculty Advisor. Each college will publish specific guidelines for the election of Honor Council representatives.
Student representatives: Elected students serve their college's Honor Council until the term of their membership is concluded, which shall be determined by each individual college. Upon departure, a new student member from the same class or program shall be selected by student elections.
Faculty/Administrative representatives: Faculty members serve a one-year term, and may be reappointed. The faculty representatives are voting members and can vote in the Formal Hearings. The Dean appoints faculty representatives.
Faculty advisors: Every three years, at the end of the spring semester, the Dean appoints an Honor Council Faculty Advisor who serves a three-year term. Faculty advisors must be full-time faculty members in the college for which they serve. They may serve multiple and consecutive terms. If the advisor is presently serving as a faculty representative when selected, the Dean appoints a replacement faculty representative. If the faculty advisor is not able to perform the necessary duties, a faculty representative will temporarily fill the required position. Faculty advisors are not voting members, but they ensure due process and to provide guidance and continuity from year to year.
An Honor Council member who misses hearings or meetings without a professional excuse, is unable to maintain a cumulative GPA of at least 2.0 for the preceding grading period, is placed on professional or academic probation, or is found guilty of violating the Honor Code will be asked to resign. Further, members can be removed from the Honor Council by a two-thirds majority vote of the Honor Council. In the case of resignation by a member of the Honor Council, the class or college of the resigning member promptly selects a new representative from the same class or program.
The Honor Council officers are a President, Vice President, Secretary, and Faculty Advisor. The student officers are elected by a simple majority of the current Honor Council members.
Honor Council President: This student must have at least one year of experience on the Honor Council. The president also serves as a representative on the University Honor Council. The president arranges for and presides at all hearings and meetings of the college Honor Council and performs all duties common to this office. The president does not vote during the deliberations in Formal Hearings to decide guilt or innocence. The president can, however, cast the deciding vote on sanctions in the event of a tie. The president administers the following oath to new members:
I do solemnly promise to uphold the policies of the Honor Council and to perform the duties of my office to the best of my ability.
Vice President: The Vice President assumes the duties of the President in the event of his or her absence.
Secretary: The secretary assists the president in matters relevant to the function of the Honor Council. The secretary also notifies those concerned of the time and place of hearings and meetings and records minutes of all Honor Council meetings.
Faculty Advisor: The faculty advisor attends all subcommittee meetings and hearings in an advisory capacity and serves as a resource for Honor Council members. The faculty advisor does not vote in proceedings, but may voice his or her opinion. The faculty advisor serves as a resource for an accuser when unsure if a violation has occurred.
The term of each student officer is one academic school year. Officers may serve two or more consecutive terms, if so elected.
Following the election of student representatives and appointment of faculty representatives by the dean, the Honor Council President calls a meeting of the student and faculty representatives. This mandatory meeting is held to organize and elect council officers.
The president calls a meeting of the Honor Council at the beginning of the fall semester soon after student elections to introduce and induct the new representatives and familiarize them with the functions of the honor council.
The president may call additional meetings at any time. Two-thirds of the members constitute a quorum.
Any individual(s) who has reason to believe that an Honor Code violation has occurred must make a formal charge before the Honor Council can take any action. However, it is understood that there is potential for interaction between the accuser and the accused before formal charges are submitted. The individual(s) making the formal charge must submit a statement in writing to include the following:
The formal written charge is confidential and therefore should be sealed and hand-delivered to the Honor Council President or through an Honor Council member or through the Honor Council Faculty Advisor . Once the Honor Council President receives the formal charges, the Honor Council President initiates an investigation of the charges. The accuser shall remain anonymous to the accused until after the Notification Conference, and at that time will only be identified if there is enough evidence to move forward with a Formal Hearing.
At no time after submitting a formal written charge should the accuser discuss any aspect of the charges with anyone not directly involved, nor should any Honor Council member mention the charges. After the Formal Hearing, Honor Council members may refer any inquiries on charges, decisions, or sanctions to the Minutes of the Student Government Association General Meeting and the University-Wide Honor Code website.
Once the President of the Honor Council receives the formal charges, he or she notifies the Honor Council Faculty Advisor and appoints two representatives from the Honor Council. The Faculty Advisor will notify the Dean of a formal charge having been made, without including any details of the case. The representatives are responsible for collecting evidence, interviewing witnesses, and presenting findings during the Notification Conference and, if necessary, the Formal Hearing. Within 2 working days of receiving the formal charges, the president notifies the accused student of the alleged violation in writing, his or her rights, and the date of the Notification Conference. If the charge relates to scientific integrity, however, MUSC policy on scientific integrity must be followed, which (in compliance with federal law) requires sequestering of the data before any notification takes place. All charges will be heard at the Notification Conference. Every effort will be made for a timely investigation. Confidentiality is important during this process, and representatives will remind each witness that discussions are confidential.
In the event that an accused student is enrolled in a joint degree program, the formal charges are to be delivered to the Honor Council President or Faculty Advisor of the portion of the program that the student is currently working on. The representatives and Honor Council Faculty Advisor are to be from that college. A joint council will be arranged to include members from both colleges.
The accused student must be informed in writing of any charges within two working days after the Honor Council President receives the formal charges and at least two working days before the case is heard at the Notification Conference and must be provided with a copy of the Honor Code. If the accused student or anyone involved in the investigation has questions about the process he or she should contact only the Honor Council President or Honor Council Faculty Advisor.
The accused student has the option of being excused from any tests, assignments, or examinations for a period extending from 48 hours prior to the Notification Conference until 48 hours following notification of the final decision of the Honor Council. Pursuant to the decisions of the academic progress committee in the accused student's college, failure to participate in academic work (e.g., examinations and assignments) could result in delayed academic progress.
At the discretion of the Dean, the accused may be removed from classes and clinical work during the time that a Notification Conference and/or Formal Hearing is taking place if there is a clear and present danger to patients, faculty, or other students. The Dean may also grant permission to continue classes and clinical work after a final decision has been reached if notified in writing that the case is being appealed. Under no circumstances may a student graduate until the case and all appeals have been resolved.
Each accused student has the right to be accompanied by one advisor (faculty, family member, attorney, or other). Honor Council hearings are student-driven proceedings and, as such, attorneys ar not permitted in the hearing to represent the accused. The advisor or an attorney serving as the advisor may not address the honor council or pose questions. The advisor may actively advise the accused but shall have no interaction with other members of the Council.
The accused shall be allowed to present witnesses during the Formal Hearing. The witness's names, affiliations (friend, brother etc.) and reasons for appearing must be submitted to the Honor Council prior to the scheduled hearing date. The number of character witnesses is requested to be held to four at the most so that the hearing can be conducted in a timely and functional manner.
The accused has the right to an expedient resolution of the charges, and every effort should be made to resolve such matters quickly. However, the time requirements should be considered guidelines only. Due to the nature of MUSC's environment, unavoidable delays may occur. Such delays do not take precedence over the process itself and are not grounds for dismissal of the charges. Only gross and inexcusable delays, which are solely the fault of the Honor Council, may serve as grounds for dismissal. A request for dismissal should be made (in writing) to the Dean.
The accused will be given reasonable and adequate time for the preparation of a defense. The accused will have prior access to and notice of evidence to be presented to the Honor Council at the Formal Hearing and have the right to call witnesses in his or her defense.
The accused student has the right to confront his or her accusers and to cross-examine any witnesses at the Formal Hearing.
The accused student has the right to examine any evidence prior to the Formal Hearing, including the transcript of the Notification Conference. These materials cannot leave the Dean's office but may be examined under supervision in the Dean's office or may be copied, at the student's own expense, by personnel of the Dean's office. The accused student must sign a statement that all information taken out of the Dean's office is confidential and is only for his/her eyes and that of his/her advisor.
The accused may decline to discuss any and all aspects of the charges. The decision to do so will not be construed as an admission of guilt. Failure to enter a plea, failure to participate in the hearing process, or disruption of the hearing process by the accused or his/her advisor will not alter the proceedings. A plea of not guilty is entered for the student, and the process continues with or without the student and his/her advisor present.
All records of prior social or academic infractions having no direct bearing on the present charges are excluded from evidence. These records are only used in the deliberations for appropriate penalties or sanctions.
The accused has the right, in the event of a not guilty verdict, to request that this finding be made public. The student must make a written request to the Honor Council President (within five official school days) to include his or her name in the report to the University Honor Council and Student Government Association.
In the event an accused student should withdraw from MUSC after a charge has been made against him/her and before the Formal Hearing, the hearing will not be held. If the hearing is not held, the charges will be permanently filed with the appropriate college's Dean's office and the University Honor Council. The charge must be cleared up by the Honor Councils before the student is readmitted to MUSC.
Members of the Notification Conference are the Honor Council Faculty Advisor as Chair, the two Honor Council members as representatives, and the president of the class or program of the accused student. If a first year student is accused before the election of the class president, the sophomore class president will substitute. The members of the Notification Conference do not have a vote in the Formal Hearing. This structure allows the accused student to have a fair and objective conference based solely on the evidence presented.
If the above members of the Notification Conference are unable to be present, distance communication tools may be used. Distance communication must occur in a secure, private environment so as to preserve the confidentiality of proceedings.
The purpose of the Notification Conference is to determine whether the charges against the accused student have sufficient factual support and represent sufficiently serious misconduct to warrant a Formal Hearing before the Honor Council. The Notification Conference will be taped and transcribed (excluding the deliberation) in a non-identifying manner (i.e., deleting all direct name references) by the Dean's office of that college for confidentiality and safekeeping. The investigating council members will interview all neccessary parties, including the accuser(s) and gather relevant evidence and present their findings during the Notification Conference in a timely manner after the initial complaint. The accused student may be present at this meeting but will not be required to enter a plea, as the purpose of the Notification Conference is not to establish guilt or innocence but to determine whether sufficient evidence exists to pursue a Formal Hearing before the Honor Council.
Following presentation of evidence, the members at the Notification Conference vote. The Honor Council Faculty Advisor does not vote in these proceedings. The accused will not be present during the voting. If the vote is unanimous against pursuing a Formal Hearing, all pertinent evidence will be destroyed, and the case will be dismissed. If any member feels the case presents sufficient doubt of the accused student's compliance with the Honor Code, the case will proceed to the Honor Council for a Formal Hearing. If the case is to be pursued, the Honor Council President must inform the accused student in writing within three business days of the Notification Conference. The notification includes a concise summary of the charges and a reminder that failure to appear at the Formal Hearing will cause the hearing to proceed in the student's absence. The student will also be given a list of University Honor Council members to provide the accused the opportunity to identify potential personal conflicts. In addition, the Dean must be advised in writing of any action to proceed. The Formal Hearing by the Honor Council must take place within ten working days of the student's notification of the results of the Notification Conference . The time limits may be extended if there are unanticipated problems and/or by mutual agreement of all parties.
A. Quorum -- A quorum of the Honor Council is two-thirds of the voting members. A quorum is required in order to begin a Formal Hearing. In Formal Hearings involving students enrolled in joint degree programs, a quorum requires at least one-third representation from each college involved. Honor Council members must be present for the entire Formal Hearing in order to vote. If the accuser is on the Honor Council, he/she will recuse himself/herself from the hearing and deliberation. An Honor Council member may disqualify himself or herself from hearing a case if he or she feels that circumstances exist that prevent his or her objectivity. In addition, the Honor Council, by a simple majority vote, may disqualify a member for other grounds (e.g., relation by blood or marriage to the accused). In order to make quorum, the University Honor Council President may select from other college Honor Councils. However, a simple majority of the Honor Council members must be from the college of the accused.
1. If a quorum of Honor Council members is unable to be obtained, distance communication tools may be used to obtain a simple majority from the college of the accused or to reach a quorum.
a. Distance communication must occur in a secure, private environment so as to preserve the confidentiality of proceedings.
B. Records -- An official record is kept of all proceedings of Honor Council hearings excluding the deliberation. Upon completion of any hearing, all recorded or transcribed records are delivered to the Dean's office of that college for confidentiality and safekeeping.
C. President's Responsibilities -- The Honor Council President presides over the hearing, rules in issues of admissibility of evidence, decides appropriateness of questioning, schedules events, and all other matters necessitating judicial resolve. The Honor Council President convenes the hearing, instructs all participants in their respective roles, and charges all participants with strict confidentiality. The President administers the following pledge to all persons presenting testimony during the Formal Hearing:
"I, __________ , will tell the truth in relation to the inquiry about which I am to give testimony. I further affirm that all matters relative to this hearing shall be held in strictest confidence."
D. Procedure -- The Honor Council and the accused will remain present throughout the Formal Hearing.
1. The Honor Council President will read aloud a statement of the charges against the accused.
2. Plea -- The accused replies to the charges by pleading guilty or not guilty. If the accused student pleads guilty, the Honor Council can choose to hear witness testimony prior to proceeding with its deliberations for an appropriate sanction. The accused is given the opportunity to make any statements in mitigation or explanation to the council before deliberations. If the plea is not guilty, the Formal Hearing on guilt or innocence shall proceed.
3. Presentation of Evidence -- The two investigating Honor Council members (who will not vote upon the guilt or innocence of the accused) will present all of the information gathered in their investigation followed by an opening statement by the accused. After opening statements are concluded, the investigators will call witnesses to support their case. After testimony and cross-examination, the defendant will call his/her witnesses to rebut. Witnesses will be called one at a time, sworn in, and leave the room after answering questions. The investigators, the accused, and the members of the Honor Council (in that order) may all question witnesses. Following the accused student's presentation of evidence, the voting members of the Honor Council may ask questions of the investigators, accused, and witnesses to clarify uncertainties.
4. Closing Statements -- The investigators will make a summary statement of the evidence presented, after which the accused may make a closing statement.
5. Deliberations -- After closing statements, the Honor Council will retire to discuss and decide the case. These discussions will not be recorded. The Honor Council will vote by secret ballot upon the guilt or innocence of the defendant, and the verdict shall be based on a preponderance of the evidence. A three-fourths vote is required for a guilty verdict. If the vote results in a verdict for acquittal, the case will be closed, and the records of the proceedings will be destroyed in the presence of witnesses. If the acquitted party is involved in a related case involving another student, the name of the acquitted party will be deleted from the official record of the related case. If the verdict is guilty, the Honor Council will, after further discussion, decide upon a sanction befitting the severity and circumstances of the violation. Sanctions will be decided by a simple majority vote.
a. Investigators will neither participate in deliberations nor vote upon guilt, innocence, or sanctions.
6. Reading of the Decision -- The Honor Council President will reconvene all participants in the Formal Hearing (excluding accusers and witnesses) and will read aloud the decision and sanction to the accused. The President will also inform the student found guilty of the option to appeal to the Dean of the appropriate college. The President will then adjourn the hearing. The President will notify the accuser in confidence of the verdict and sanctions following the Formal Hearing.
7. Recommendations to the Dean -- If a student is found guilty by the Honor Council, the Honor Council President will forward all records of the investigation and Formal Hearing, the decision, and the sanction to the Dean of the college for appropriate action.
Within two business days of the conclusion of the Formal Hearing, the Honor Council President will deliver to the convicted student a written description of the decisions regarding each charge and the sanctions.
The following actions may be taken against a student who is found guilty of a violation of the Honor Code:
When the student has met the terms of his or her sanctions , the Faculty Advisor will notify the Dean , who will notify the Office of Enrollment Management in writing within fifteen days that the transcript notation is to be removed. It is the responsibility of the student to notify the Dean when terms of the sanctions have been met, and to ensure that the notation has been removed.
In the absence of an appeal, the decision of the Honor Council stands. The student may submit in writing an appeal to the Dean of his/her respective college. In the case of multiple degree students, the Dean of the college in which the accusation occurred should receive the appeal. An appeal should be submitted within 10 work days after completion of the Formal Hearing.
The Dean will notify the Honor Council President and the accused student in writing as to the final decision of the appeal in a timely manner. In the event an appeal is upheld and the sanction(s) altered by the Dean, the Dean will communicate the basis and reasoning of the final decision and /or sanction(s) to the Honor Council and the convicted student.
The Dean has the power to reduce (but not increase) the penalty. The decision of the Dean is final.
An official record of all Notification Conferences and Formal Hearings will be made. The Dean assists the Honor Council in maintaining a secure, permanent location for all confidential records.
The Honor Council Secretary must destroy by appropriate means any Honor Council record pertaining to a specific individual upon that person's graduation from the MUSC. Following a not guilty verdict, the official records will be destroyed in the presence of witnesses. A summary of the case (with the student's name deleted) may be kept by the Dean, College Honor Council, and University Honor Council for future reference.
The posting, or publishing, of all charges and sanctions discussed in a Formal Hearing is the duty of the University Honor Council Chair via the Student Government Association. These reports will be made at the next meeting of the Student Government Association once the case is closed and will not make reference to any individual. Publication should be administered after all appeals processes have been exhausted. The publication to university students and staff is detailed below:
College wide publication: When a student is found guilty of an Honor Code violation an email will be sent by the Dean's office of the particular student notifying the faculty of the following: Charge, Guilty Verdict and Applied Sanctions. The student's name shall not be disclosed.
University wide publication: When a student is found guilty of an Honor Code violation an email will be sent by each Honor Council President to the students of their respective college notifying them of the following: Charge, Guilty Verdict and Applied Sanctions. The student's name shall not be disclosed.
Students found not guilty of all Honor Code violations shall have the right to request an email publication delivered to faculty or peers notifying them of the findings.
Attached in each email shall be a disclaimer stating the following:
**Disclaimer** Please be aware that all violation(s) and sanction(s) reported above were handled by the individual college Honor Council. The specific sanctions address the pertinent facts and issues of each case. Please understand that facts and details of the case are not published, and only the Honor Council was able to review the case in its entirety.
By being an enrolled student of MUSC, you acknowledge that you are held accountable to all aspects of the current Honor Code.
The Honor Code shall be available on the MUSC Webpage at www.musc.edu/honorcode/, and each college's Dean's Office, and the Student Programs Office. Upon acceptance for admission to MUSC, each student will be sent a copy of the University Honor Code by his or her college along with the following statement which the student must sign before registration has been completed:
I, the undersigned, signify that I have read the Honor Code and hereby pledge my support. I understand what is expected of me as a student of the Medical University of South Carolina and realize that the University Honor Council will not accept a plea of ignorance.
The signed pledge will be collected by the appropriate Dean's office and be kept for the length of the student's enrollment in that college.
At the beginning of the academic year, the entering class will hold a meeting at which an Honor Council member will review the Honor Code. A full explanation of all provisions will be made, and any questions answered.
A faculty member or student through any Honor Council member may propose amendments to the Honor Code. All bills must be submitted in writing to the University Honor Council. Bills are ratified in the following order:
A quorum must be present in the voting bodies mentioned below in order to ratify a bill at that level. A quorum is two-thirds of the voting members of the respective body. The ratification should be thorough yet expedient in obtaining an acceptance or rejection of the bill.
Board Approved - October 12, 2001
Amendments to the Honor Code may occur during the course of the year. Please refer to this website for the most up-to-date version.