Policies + Disclosures

« back to list

Academic Code of Conduct

Academic Dishonesty

Overview and Introduction

RISD seeks to help its students realize their fullest intellectual, artistic, and personal potential through a distinctive combination of studio and liberal arts courses. The College values the creative process and freedom of expression. The College also honors its responsibility to protect the values and standards of an academic community.

The College recognizes the need for risk-taking and experimentation in a challenging art, design, and liberal arts education. Moreover, the long history of appropriation, subversion, and other means of challenging convention in the arts may, at times, complicate attempts to definitively codify forms of acknowledgement/attribution. That said, forms of experimentation that do challenge these boundaries must at all times adhere to the fundamental value underlying academic conduct at RISD: honesty in the creation and presentation of one’s work as well as in one’s relations to others and their work.

Academic writing must follow conventions of documentation and citation. Others’ ideas—whether quoted directly or paraphrased, whether taken from a book, website, or lecture—must be clearly attributed both to provide a record of the writer’s research and to avoid plagiarism, or presenting another’s ideas as one’s own. Liberal Arts faculty will often explicitly address documentation expectations, including preferred styles, in class.

In the studio culture the conventions governing the use and reference to others’ work are less clearly defined than in academic writing. These conventions are often defined by particular disciplinary histories and practices and are best addressed in the context of the particular studio experience.

Given the wide variety of disciplinary histories, conventions, traditions, and practices applicable to liberal arts and studio activities, the individual faculty member defines, within reason, what constitutes academic misconduct within the context of a given course.

Forms of Academic Misconduct

Academic misconduct compromises the academic integrity of the College and subverts the educational process. Primary, but not exclusive, kinds of such misconduct are:


The use of unauthorized information, study aids or other materials, or unauthorized communication with, or copying from another student on papers, projects, tests, or other academic work. It is the responsibility of students to consult with their faculty concerning what materials and types of collaboration are permissible.


The passing off of someone else’s ideas, writing, or work as one’s own is plagiarism. Appropriate methods and forms of attribution vary by discipline. Some courses will include instruction in appropriate conventions for citation and attribution within the field. Students are advised to seek out relevant guidelines on their own (the RISD Writing Center offers resources and guidance), to ask faculty when in doubt about standards, and to recognize that they are ultimately responsible for proper citation.

Falsification and Fabrication

The attribution of information or material included in one’s work to a false or fabricated source, or the falsification or fabrication of the information or materials themselves.

Unauthorized Reuse

The submission of substantially the same work to satisfy requirements for one course that has previously been submitted in satisfaction of the requirements for another course or that was created for another purpose, without permission of the faculty of the course for which the work is being submitted. Students are expected to create new work in specific response to each assignment, unless expressly authorized to do otherwise.

Unfair Academic Advantage

The theft, destruction, or defacement of, or other interference with, the work of other students for the purpose of gaining academic advantage; the engagement in other activities that place other students at an academic disadvantage, such as theft, concealment, or alteration of needed resources or other one’s favor. 

Noncompliance with Course Rules 

The violation of specific course rules set forth in a syllabus or otherwise provided to the student.

Reporting Suspected Academic Misconduct Cases

The following procedures are intended to provide guidance to faculty on handling and reporting cases of suspected academic misconduct and to inform students on the procedure for adjudicating charges of academic misconduct.


If academic misconduct is suspected, the faculty member should first speak with the student to help determine whether the suspicion is warranted. If so, faculty are encouraged to consult the Office of Student Affairs to determine whether the student has a record of similar misconduct and/or to confer with their Department Head and Dean for advisement or clarification of the following three options.

A. Teachable Moment

If a faculty member suspects that a student has engaged in academic misconduct, in addition to discussing the matter with the student, the faculty member may elect to require the student to redo the assignment correctly, in accordance with academic standards, or reduce the grade on the assignment. If the assignment grade is lowered to a ‘D’ or higher, and if the faculty feels no further punitive action is necessary, the incident will be considered a “teachable moment.” The grade appeal process is available to provide the student with due process should he/she feel the faculty’s grading was unfair.

B. Grade of ‘F’ for Assignment and/or Grade of ‘F’ for Class

If after discussing the matter with the student a faculty member decides to give the student a failing grade for the assignment or course because of academic misconduct, a note of concern should be sent to the student with a copy to the Dean of Students, the student’s Department Head, and Division Dean. A note of concern is an informal admonition that both makes the student aware of academic standards and serves as notice that any future academic misconduct could lead to further review and the imposition of more serious sanctions by the Conduct Board. This note will be kept on file in Student Affairs, the school-wide repository for all misconduct records from all departments. If the student should wish to challenge the sanction, the Conduct Board will convene to hear the appeal. Otherwise the Conduct Board is not involved in level “B” procedures.

Student Affairs has the right to consult with the faculty member regarding their current note of concern, and disclose whether or not there are past notes of concern filed for that student. For students who have past notes of concern filed, Student Affairs, along with the faculty member involved with the current incident, proceed to Step C and initiate formal disciplinary procedures. 

C. Conduct Board Hearing

A student may be called before the Conduct Board in the following situations:

  • A faculty member believes he/she has committed an act of academic misconduct that merits severe disciplinary action beyond a failing grade for the assignment or course such as suspension or expulsion.
  • A faculty member wishes to have the Conduct Board review the case and make a determination that a violation of theAcademic Code occurred as well as provide the appropriate sanction if the student is found responsible.

Conduct Board Procedures

Following is a general summary of hearing procedure, details of which can be found under Disciplinary Code and Procedures in the Student Handbook of Rhode Island School of Design.

In a Conduct Board hearing, the charges are heard and determined by a board that consists of at least three members, ordinarily including one faculty member, one staff member, and one student, with the Coordinator of Student Conduct or his or her designee serving as an additional, nonvoting member and Chair.

The faculty, staff, and student members of a Conduct Board are drawn by the Coordinator of Student Conduct from a standing panel consisting of faculty members designated by the Faculty Meeting, staff members designated by the Dean of Student Affairs, and student members designated by the Dean of Student Affairs after consultation with the Graduate and Undergraduate Student Alliances.

No one may serve on a Conduct Board who has a significant conflict of interest or bias with respect to the case to be heard; however, prior knowledge of the participants in the case or of the conduct that is the subject of the case does not itself constitute a conflict of interest or bias.

Any charge may be heard and determined by a Conduct Board, and charges in which both (a) responsibility is contested and (b) suspension or expulsion are possible outcomes ordinarily will be heard and determined by a Conduct Board.

In general, and unlike court proceedings, Conduct Board hearings follow an investigatory rather than adversarial model, with the Chair rather than the parties taking the lead, active role. Conduct Board hearings generally follow the following outline of procedures:

  • A written notice of the charges to be heard and the place and time of the hearing will be sent to the respondent’s RISD email address at least 72 hours in advance.
  • The hearing will be presided over and administered by the Chair, who will determine the order and method of proceeding.
  • The complainant and the respondent may each have an advisor of their choosing, selected from among RISD’s faculty, staff, and students. The complainant and the respondent may each request the presence of witnesses at the hearing. Such requests must be submitted to the Chair in writing at least 24 hours before the hearing and must describe the requested witnesses’ expected testimony.
  • The rules of evidence used in civil or criminal trials are not applicable to hearings in the Code. The Chair may ask the Hearing Office to present a summary of his or her investigation and will control the manner,nature and order of questioning; and may exclude any information and testimony that he or she determines is irrelevant, duplicative, or otherwise inappropriate.
  • The Conduct Board deliberates in a closed session following the presentation of information andwitnesses.
  • The Associate Dean of Student Affairs or designee may, on the basis of the record, accept, modify, or reject the Conduct Board’s recommendations.
  • The Associate Dean of Student Affairs will notify the respondent of the final determination will be made by letter sent to the respondent’s RISD e-mail account.

Right of and Grounds for Appeal:

Appeals may be taken from final determinations of the Dean of Student Affairs on charges heard and determined by a Conduct Board only if suspension or expulsion has been imposed as a

consequence and not deferred, and only if the charges were not initially heard and determined in an administrative conference.  An appeal must be submitted to the Dean of Student Affairs within seven business days of the date of the Associate Dean’s notification letter; in absence of a timely appeal, the Associate Dean’s determination will be final and conclusive.


Graduates let loose at the close of RISD's colorful outdoor Commencement.