FAIR Allegation Process FAQ

Q: Why do we use the FAIR system?

A: The primary reason we prosecute cheating is to do as much as possible to ensure a level playing field for all students. In fact, students who do not cheat are the biggest advocates for our pursuit of prosecuting cheating. It is completely unfair to some students if other students are earning their grades by cheating rather than learning the content. To defend these innocent students, we take cheating seriously.

The other reason that we use the FAIR system is to protect you! It’s equally important to us that we provide you the opportunity for due process and a structured opportunity to defend yourself. By documenting our allegations in a formal system, you receive a formal process for appealing our decisions. One reason we wrote this FAQ is to give you the tools to best defend yourself during this due process.

Also, because all e-mails are generated and documented by the FAIR system, it provides additional accountability for everyone. This way an instructor cannot claim that they did not receive an e-mail from the student and vice versa.

Q: I’ve received a FAIR allegation, what do I do?!

A: Don’t panic. Receiving an allegation just means that we found something anomalous about your code or behavior. Many cheating allegations are dropped based on students’ defenses and justifications.

If you did not commit an infraction, focus on demonstrating your innocence with verifiable evidence. For example, send commit logs that show how your code developed over time or names of course staff that you talked to. Show us how suspicious code is consistent with your coding style (e.g., do you use certain types of comments or variable naming conventions).

Also, do not appeal to the length of code in CS 233. We are well aware that many of our assignments are short and do our best to guard against false positives. You will be surprised by the sheer number of ways students solve problems that seem to have only one solution. If we flagged your code, it means that your solution deviated substantially from the norm and also matched another students’ code in a way that is highly unlikely (e.g., mis-spelled variables, weird uses of white space, or the same mistake that only two students made)

If you did commit an infraction, it is in your best interest to admit to the infraction. We do not enjoy punishing students and will readily consider reduced penalties for students when they are forthcoming and honest about their actions. If you made one mistake by committing an infraction, do not make another by lying about it.

Q: Will employers or graduate schools see my FAIR allegation?

A: No, FAIR is a purely internal process and will not appear on your transcript or in any way.

Q: I have been accused of copying another person’s code or inappropriately collaborating with another student, may I know the name of the other student?

A: We have shared the information that we believe can help you defend your case. If we give you the name of another student and you deny knowing that student, we have no way of verifying whether your claim in true, so ultimately that information will not factor into our decision making.

Additionally, sharing the name of another student would violate their privacy. We suspect that you probably would not want us to share your name with other students.

If you feel that we did not give you enough information to defend yourself, rather than ask for the name of another student, you should probably ask for more details about why we found your code to be suspicious.

Q: Can I setup a meeting with the instructors?

A: We are willing to meet with you but only if you provide a clear agenda for what needs to be discussed and why that discussion would help you create your formal response. Since an in person meeting would not be documented, anything discussed during an in-person meeting may not help you during the FAIR process or an appeal.

Q: I submitted a formal response, when will I hear a final determination?

A: You will receive another e-mail with the final determination as soon as possible but within 10 days. If multiple students are accused of cheating together, we need to wait for all students to reply to the allegation so this can delay how quickly we can provide a final determination.

Q: It’s the end of the semester and I have received an “I” grade, what’s going on?

A: Campus automatically overrides grade submissions with an “I” grade for any student who has an outstanding FAIR allegation. After your FAIR allegation is resolved, we all have to wait for campus to change your grade. Unfortunately, that part of this process is out of our hands, so we cannot give you estimate for how long that process will take.

Q: I received a notification that it was found that I committed an infraction, but I still maintain that I did not commit the infraction. What can I do?

A: If you disagree with our finding and believe that you can demonstrate your innocence, then you should absolutely appeal. As stated above, the purpose of the FAIR system is to ensure that you have a fair due process for demonstrating your innocence. Because interchanges between instructors and students have been documented, we now have verifiable evidence that can be used by both sides during an appeal and guard you against any capricious decisions of a single instructor.