Code of Conduct
Each student is responsible for becoming familiar with the Code of Conduct, as published in this Walden University Student Handbook and any subsequent updates. If a student is unsure about the application or interpretation of the Code of Conduct, it is her or his responsibility to seek clarification from university administrators.
Students and other members of the university community should also refer to the Technology Policies section of this Walden University Student Handbook regarding sanctions for violations related to the use of university networks, email services, computer systems, or other information technologies. Any violation of the Technology Policies may also constitute a violation of the university Code of Conduct.
The Code of Conduct addresses the university’s expectations of students in four areas: nondiscrimination, nonharassment, professional conduct, and academic integrity.
- Nondiscrimination: Walden University does not discriminate or tolerate discrimination by or against members of the university community on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, religion, age, mental or physical disability, veteran status, marital status, or other protected characteristics in the admission to, access to, or treatment or employment in any of its programs or activities.
- Nonharassment: Walden University is committed to maintaining an environment that is free of unwelcome and disrespectful conduct and communication and in which university members feel safe and comfortable. As such, it is a violation of this policy for any Walden employee, instructor, or student to engage in harassing conduct or communication directed toward another employee, instructor, student, or any other person affiliated with the university. Sexual harassment can include, but is not limited to, unwelcome sexual advances; requests for sexual favors; unwelcome physical contact; inappropriate emails; obscene or harassing phone calls or jokes; suggestive gestures, sounds, or stares; and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when:
- Submission to such conduct is made, either explicitly or implicitly, a term or condition of a student’s academic progress;
- Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as a basis for decisions affecting assessment of academic progress; or
- Such conduct, by instructors, staff, or students, including between students, has the purpose or effect of interfering with academic performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment.
Unwelcome conduct of this nature, directed at others and based on other protected characteristics, such as race, sexual orientation, gender, religion, age, and other characteristics as set forth in the university’s nondiscrimination policy, violates both the nonharassment policy and the nondiscrimination policy.
- Professional Conduct: As part of its commitment to integrity and respect in the community in which it operates, Walden University expects that its students will conduct themselves in a professional and respectful manner at all times, both when interacting within the university community and when representing the university at events outside the institution. In that regard, students will not at any time engage in unduly disruptive, threatening, unethical, disrespectful, or abusive conduct toward other members of the university community, including fellow students, instructors, and staff.
- Academic Integrity: Walden University considers academic integrity to be essential for each student’s intellectual development. As an institution fundamentally concerned with the free exchange of ideas, the university depends on the academic integrity of each of its members. In the spirit of this free exchange, students and instructors of Walden recognize the necessity and accept the responsibility for academic integrity. A student who enrolls at the university thereby agrees to respect and acknowledge the research and ideas of others in his or her work and to abide by those regulations governing work stipulated by the academic unit or academic program, and, in turn, the instructor. Student submissions will be routinely searched for offending material by an online originality check program.
The university also recognizes that, in an educational community, the pressure to succeed can often be intense. Students who feel overwhelmed by their academic and personal obligations may be tempted to take shortcuts that may compromise their honesty and integrity. To help students derive the full benefit of the educational opportunity provided by the university, this section defines a violation of academic integrity and gives examples of actions that are considered dishonest. The university encourages students who may have questions or concerns about the definition and forms of academic integrity violations described herein to contact their faculty mentor, course instructor, or student success advisor.
A violation of academic integrity is any action or attempted action that may result in creating an unfair academic advantage for the student or an unfair academic advantage or disadvantage for any other member or members of the academic community.
Student work is monitored for evidence of plagiarism, using an antiplagiarism application, database, or service of Walden’s choosing. Students will be required to submit their work to such a service in advance of course assignment deadlines. Students grant to Walden, Walden’s faculty members, and Walden’s faculty assistants a limited license to review work submitted for the purpose of comment, criticism, and grading of the work; to distribute the work to other Walden students for educational purposes; to use the work for internal training purposes; to submit the work to the antiplagiarism application, database, or service of Walden’s choosing; to make and retain copies of the work; to image the work for computerized grading; and to archive certain work in a publicly accessible collection.
Academic integrity violations include the following:
a. Plagiarism. Plagiarism is defined as use of intellectual material produced by another person without acknowledging its source. For example:
- Wholesale copying of passages from works of others into an assignment, paper, discussion board posting, or dissertation without acknowledgment;
- Using the views, opinions, or insights of another without acknowledgment; and/or
- Paraphrasing another person’s characteristic or original phraseology, metaphor, or other literary device without acknowledgment.
Please note that while not produced by a person, the paraphrasing or use of direct material produced by an artificial intelligence (AI) tool, such as ChatGPT, also requires proper citation. While the use of such tools itself are not considered plagiarism or a violation of academic integrity, the use of proper citation and acknowledgment still applies for any content that is not a student’s original idea or synthesis. Walden reserves the right to require AI input/output transcripts for review in an assignment reference list/appendix. For more information regarding the use of artificial intelligence in scholarly writing, please visit Walden’s Artificial Intelligence resource page.
b. Students’ Use of Their Own Scholarly Work
Students may reuse their work without an expectation that previously awarded grades or credit will attach to the new assignment. Any work previously published by the student must be appropriately cited if reused.
Field Experience Exception: Any assignments or documentation submitted related to field experience (work, hours, client or patient logs, etc) must be new, current, accurate, and relate to clients or patients seen during the term and in direct reference to the assignment.
c. Cheating. Cheating is defined as fraud, deceit, or dishonesty in an academic assignment. It includes using or attempting to use materials, or assisting others in using materials, that are prohibited or inappropriate in the context of the academic assignment in question. For example:
- Copying or attempting to copy from others during an exam or on an assignment;
- Communicating answers with another person during an exam;
- Preprogramming a calculator to contain answers or other unauthorized information for exams;
- Using unauthorized materials, prepared answers, written notes, or concealed information during an exam;
- Allowing others to do an assignment or portion of an assignment, including the use of a commercial term paper service;
- Submitting the same assignment for more than one course without the prior approval of all the instructors involved (see the “Students’ Use of Their Own Scholarly Work” section for more information);
- Collaborating on an exam or assignment with any other person without prior approval from the course instructor; and/or
- Taking an exam for another person or having someone take an exam for you.
d. Providing False Information. For example:
- Furnishing false information in the context of an academic assignment;
- Fabricating or altering information or data and presenting it as legitimate; and/or
- Providing false or misleading information to an instructor or any other university staff member.
e. Copyright Violation. Walden recognizes and respects intellectual property rights. As part of its mission to maintain the highest standards for ethical conduct, the university requires its employees, instructors, students, and other university community members to use copyrighted materials in a lawful manner.
- No employee, instructor, student, or other university community member may reproduce any copyrighted work in print, video, or electronic form in violation of the law. The easiest way to avoid violating the law is by receiving the express written permission of the copyright holder. Copyright laws in the United States may protect works even if they are not registered with the U.S. Copyright Office and even if they do not carry the copyright symbol.
- Copyrighted works include, but are not limited to, printed articles from publications, television and radio programs, videotapes, music performances, photographs, training materials, manuals, documentation, software programs, databases, World Wide Web pages, and CD-ROMs. In general, the laws that apply to printed materials are also applicable to visual and electronic media.
- Walden directs its employees, instructors, students, and other university community members to obtain appropriate permission from copyright holders directly, or from their licensing representative, when reproduction or duplication exceeds fair use. The fair use doctrine allows limited exemptions to copyright infringement liability when copyrighted works are used for purposes such as comment, criticism, teaching, scholarship, or research, particularly when the use of the work is limited in amount and scope and is for noncommercial purposes. To learn more about fair use, visit Copyright Law of the United States of America.
f. Misrepresentation of Credentials. Statements made and documents supplied by Walden applicants and students must be complete and accurate. The university will not tolerate any misrepresentation by a student or applicant of past or current academic programs, degrees, or professional accomplishments. If unexplained discrepancies appear between statements or documents provided to Walden and information obtained otherwise, except in the case of misspellings and other such inadvertent errors, applicants may be rejected for admission and enrolled students may be dismissed.
g. Theft or Damage of Property. For example:
- Sabotaging or stealing another person’s assignment, paper, project, electronic hardware, or software;
- Obtaining improper access to, or electronically interfering with, the property of another person or the university via computer or other means; and/or
- Obtaining a copy of an assignment or exam prior to its approved release by the instructor.
h. Alteration of University Documents. For example:
- Forging an instructor’s or university official’s signature on any document;
- Submitting an altered transcript of grades to or from another institution or employer;
- Putting your name on, or copying, another person’s paper or assignment; and/or
- Altering a previously graded exam or assignment for purposes of a grade appeal or for gaining points in a regarding process.
Review Process for Code of Conduct Violations
Whenever a violation of the Code of Conduct is identified, the university will take prompt and appropriate corrective action consistent with its policy. There shall be no retaliation against any member of the university community who expresses a concern under this policy, and confidentiality, to the extent possible, will be maintained. Intentionally false accusations may result in appropriate corrective action by the university.
Note: This process applies to all Code of Conduct issues except for violations of the academic integrity policy. Review procedures specific to academic integrity violations are outlined in the next section.
- Obligation to Report. Any member of the Walden community who suspects that a violation of the Code of Conduct has occurred is required to submit electronically to the dean or executive director, or their designees, the following information for the purposes of administrative review and resolution:
- Date of the alleged incident;
- Documentation available to support the allegation; and
- Name and contact information of the person making the notification.
The dean or executive director or their designees will provide written notification to the person who is suspected of having committed the violation.
- Investigation Process. The dean or executive director or their designees will conduct an appropriate investigation that will include the opportunity for the student to respond to the alleged violation, either in writing or orally. In all cases, informal attempts will be made to resolve the issue. During the investigation, the dean or executive director or their designees may convene a small panel to review the alleged violation. Following the investigation, the dean or executive director or their designees will make a decision and notify the student in writing of the decision and any sanctions resulting from the findings, which may include but are not limited to a warning, award of a failing course grade which supersedes course drop and withdrawal deadlines, academic suspension, or permanent dismissal from the university.
- Appeals. A student may appeal the decision of the dean or executive director or their designees in cases of Code of Conduct violations, other than academic integrity violations. (See Appeals Process in the Student Appeals and Grievances section of this Walden University Student Handbook.)
Process for Academic Integrity Violations
- Investigation Process. Should an instructor suspect that a student has violated the academic integrity policy in the Code of Conduct, the instructor will conduct an appropriate investigation, which may include use of a plagiarism detection service and a request that the student provide complete copies of all sources used in the research under question. (If another instructional staff member—such as a research reviewer, editor, or writing tutor—suspects that a student has violated the academic integrity policy in the Code of Conduct, he or she will report the suspicion to the instructor who will then conduct an appropriate investigation.) If the instructor finds that the student has violated the academic integrity policy, he or she will provide written evidence of the violation to the student and give the student an opportunity to respond to this evidence in writing.
If, after reviewing the student’s response, the instructor determines that the student has violated the academic integrity policy, he or she will inform the dean or executive director or their designees, and together they will determine which sanction to impose. Possible sanctions include one or more of the following: a requirement to redo work, a reduction in grade for the work, award of a failing assignment grade, award of a failing course grade which supersedes course drop and withdrawal deadlines, enrollment in a course on academic integrity, academic suspension, or permanent dismissal from the university. Multiple violations will result in more severe sanctions. The dean must approve all suspensions or dismissals from the university and will notify students in writing of such action.
Suspected violations of academic integrity that are reported to the university by students or other community members will be investigated by the dean or executive director or their designees, and a disposition will be provided to the student in the same manner.
The university believes that upholding academic integrity is among its highest callings and to that end provides educational opportunities for students to explore both the ethical necessity and the technical methods of conducting research that meets the highest standards laid out in the Fundamental Values of Academic Integrity statement. Students who are found to have violated the academic integrity policy but are not dismissed from the university will be required to take and successfully complete with a grade of “S,” a course on academic integrity to build their understanding and skills in upholding academic integrity. This course must be taken in the term immediately following the finding of academic integrity violation.
- Sanctions and Records. The university takes all violations of the Code of Conduct very seriously and takes actions that are appropriate to the violation.
In addition to instructor-imposed sanctions, the university can impose additional sanctions upon a student whose violation of the Code of Conduct is severe or follows a prior history. These sanctions include award of a failing course or KAM demonstration grade, including retroactive application of failing grades to past courses or KAM demonstrations; placement on a status of academic warning; revocation of proposal or dissertation approval; academic suspension; and permanent dismissal from the university.
All disciplinary actions are recorded in the student’s file, which remains permanently on record. The existence of a prior violation in a student’s file will lead to stronger sanctions for subsequent acts. Students who have been dismissed from the university for violation of the academic integrity policy are not eligible for readmission.
Students who receive a failing course grade as a Code of Conduct sanction, not as the end result of another sanction, will have an “XF” or “XU” notated on their official transcript. In some circumstances, students may have the “X” removed upon successful completion of an assignment or project deemed appropriate by their dean. More information on this policy can be found in the student handbook, Course Registration: Failed Course Grade Sanction policy.
- Appeals. The findings of the dean or executive director or their designees in cases of academic integrity violations are final and are not subject to appeal.
Walden has zero tolerance for Hazing. Hazing is defined as any action taken or situation created through coercion or otherwise which, regardless of intent or consent of the participants, may reasonably produce substantial risk of causing bodily harm or danger, mental or physical discomfort, embarrassment, harassment, fright, humiliation or ridicule, or otherwise compromises the dignity of an individual; compels an individual to participate in an activity that is unlawful and/or contrary to university rules, policies, and regulations; will unreasonably or unusually impair an individual’s academic efforts; and occurs on or off campus between two or more people who are affiliated with the institution including at nonsanctioned events. Hazing is further defined as an act that endangers the mental or physical health or safety of a student, or removes public or private property, for the purpose of initiation or admission into, affiliation with, or as a condition for, continued membership in a group or organization. Prohibited activities and/or actions include, but are not limited to, tests of endurance; submission of members or prospective members to potentially dangerous or hazardous circumstances; any activity that, by its nature, is so intense that it would cause severe mental anxiety, mental distress, panic, human degradation, or public embarrassment; creation of excessive fatigue or a late-work session that interferes with scholastic activities or deprives persons of the opportunity for sufficient sleep (6 hours per day), decent edible meals, and/or access to means of bodily cleanliness; forcing or coercing a person to consume alcohol or other substances, in any amount; any requirement that compels an individual to participate in an activity that is illegal, perverse, or indecent; and compelling individuals to engage in sexual behaviors, sexual or racial harassment or slurs, or exhibitionism.
No administrator, employee, faculty member, teacher, consultant, alumnus, or volunteer of Walden shall recklessly permit the hazing of any person associated with the university or any of its student organizations, nor shall any person affiliated with the university recklessly participate in the hazing of another when the hazing includes coerced consumption of alcohol or drugs of abuse resulting in serious physical harm to the other person.
Penalties for Violation:
Whoever violates this policy is not only subject to academic sanctions, which include, but are not limited to, imposition of fines; withholding of diplomas or transcripts pending compliance with the rules; revocation of authority of an organization to operate on campus or to otherwise operate under the recognition or sanction of the university; imposition of probation, suspension, or other disciplinary sanctions up to and including dismissal from the university and/or termination of employment. Individuals who violate this policy are also subject to being reported to law enforcement for criminal investigation and possible criminal penalties, if found guilty of hazing in a court of law.
Beginning in the 2022–2023 academic year, not later than January 15, 2023, Walden University’s student organizations and residences will maintain a report of all violations of the institution’s policy or other state law regarding hazing that are reported to the institution. Thereafter, an updated report shall be posted on the first day of January and August of each year and shall be retained for 5 consecutive years. Each report will be publicly posted on Walden’s website and will include the following:
- The name of the subject of the report.
- The date when the subject of the report was charged with a violation of the institution’s policy or other state law regarding hazing.
- A general description of the violation, any investigation and findings by the institution, and any penalties imposed on the subject of the report.
- The date on which the matter was resolved.
Walden University will provide students with an education program on hazing which will be offered online during new student orientation session and as modules that can be taken on-demand prior to residencies and before joining a new student organization. Organizations are prohibited from accepting or initiating students who have not attended the program.
All staff and volunteers who coach an organization recognized by and operating under the sanction of Walden University and have direct contact with students must have mandatory training on hazing, including awareness, prevention, and the institution’s policy.
In accordance with the provisions of the Federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974, any information related to an alleged violation of the university’s Code of Conduct or the outcome of an investigation or appeal must be treated as strictly confidential by the instructors and staff of Walden University, except when the university has a legal obligation or legitimate interest to do so, for instance, due to a health or safety emergency, or an articulable and significant threat to the safety or well-being of the student, other students, or members of the school community.
Drug and Alcohol Policy
Walden University maintains a drug-free university. Students, instructors, and staff are strictly prohibited from misusing controlled substances, intoxicants, alcohol, and prescription drugs while working, participating in the online classroom, or attending residencies, field experience, or other university-sponsored activities.
Violation of the Walden University Alcohol and Drug Policy and/or any municipal, state, or federal law or regulation may result in disciplinary action, including but not limited to a warning, a remediation plan, and up to and including dismissal of a student, even for a first time offense. In addition to the sanctions imposed by Walden, individuals who have violated local, state, and federal law regarding possession, use, and/or distribution of alcohol and other drugs may be referred by the school to the appropriate authorities for arrest and prosecution.
All Walden University students are expected to remain in good academic standing throughout their studies in accordance with university requirements. However, there are situations in which students may be in satisfactory academic standing but exhibit behaviors that bring question upon their capacity as professionals.
Student Professional Competence Policy
There are a number of professional skills and characteristics that are important for those who provide services to children, adolescents, and adults, as well as to professional organizations, in a variety of settings. These interpersonal and/or professional skills include, but are not limited to, adherence to ethical standards published by professional organizations, professional deportment, sensitivity to client issues, and appropriate use of supervision. Situations can arise in which instructors, students, or other professionals observe behaviors by other students that demonstrate a lack of appropriate interpersonal or professional skills. The purpose of this policy is to provide a set of procedures that will be used by Walden instructors to address such issues.
For the purposes of this procedure, a distinction is made between different types of behaviors that impede a student’s development. These include (1) problem behaviors, (2) inappropriate and/or unprofessional conduct, and (3) critical behaviors.
- Problem Behaviors. Problem behaviors occur when a student’s attitude and/or behavior is of concern and requires remediation but is not unexpected for professionals in training. These types of behaviors include, but are not limited to, performance anxiety, discomfort with clients of diverse ethnic backgrounds, and lack of appreciation for agency rules and expectations. These types of behaviors can typically be remediated with feedback and further training and supervision, do not result in the potential for physical and/or emotional harm to others, are limited in duration, and will likely not develop into an inappropriate and/or unprofessional conduct situation.
- Inappropriate/Unprofessional Conduct. Inappropriate and/or unprofessional conduct is defined broadly as an interference in professional functioning that is reflected in one or more of the following ways:
- An inability and/or unwillingness to acquire and integrate professional standards into one’s repertoire of professional behavior;
- An inability to acquire professional skills in order to reach an acceptable level of competency; and/or
- An inability to control personal stress and/or excessive emotional reactions that interfere with professional functioning.
Problems typically become identified as inappropriate and/or unprofessional conduct when they include one or more of the following characteristics:
- The student fails to acknowledge, understand, or address the problem when it is identified, resulting in further manifestations signifying a more pervasive problem.
- The problem is not merely a reflection of a skill deficit that can be remediated by academic or didactic training. In this case, a group of professional experts (instructors) determines that the deficit is likely not correctable.
- The quality of services delivered by the student is sufficiently negatively affected.
- The problem negatively affects other students’ learning.
- A disproportionate amount of attention and intervention by training personnel and/or instructors is required to remediate the problem.
- The student’s behavior does not change as a function of feedback, remediation efforts, and/or time.
- Critical Behaviors. While these behaviors can occur in the online learning environment, they are most likely to manifest during face-to-face meetings (e.g., residencies and meetings associated with coursework). Critical behaviors put, or have the potential to put, students or instructors and staff (including oneself) at risk for physical harm or serious emotional distress. These types of behaviors include, but are not limited to, being under the influence of drugs or alcohol, carrying a weapon, sexual or other types of harassment, suicide ideation, verbal abuse, exhibiting psychological problems (e.g., those associated with such things as psychosis or mania), threats of harm, intimidation, and abusive or threatening postings. These behaviors may result in legal, law enforcement, medical, and/or mental health interventions. The procedures for addressing these behaviors are covered under the Review Process for Code of Conduct Violations section of the Code of Conduct in this Walden University Student Handbook.
Student Appeals and Grievances
Students who wish to appeal a decision related to Code of Conduct violations are advised to first pursue less formal channels for conflict resolution before filing a formal written appeal or grievance.
- Students with concerns involving academic decisions related to professional conduct or academic dismissal may pursue an academic appeal through the appeals process outlined in this Walden University Student Handbook.
- Students with concerns involving the university’s nondiscrimination, nonharassment, or educational access policies are encouraged to first report their concerns to their dean or executive director or their designees to allow for appropriate review and investigation of the concerns. If this process does not adequately resolve the issue, the student can then proceed with filing a formal written grievance under the grievance process outlined in this Walden University Student Handbook. Often these types of concerns can be resolved without pursuing the formal grievance process.
- Decisions of the dean or executive director or their designees related to academic integrity violations (other than academic dismissal), change of grade, program of study, or other decisions related specifically to the program, specialization, or concentration curriculum cannot be appealed.