Avoiding Misrepresentation

Photo by Claudio Calligaris

You present a TA with a doctor’s note to explain why you missed the mid-term exam. It is discovered that you changed the dates on the doctor’s note. You explain that you had been ill the week before the mid-term and were not able to study. You had recovered by the date of the exam, however, feeling unprepared you decided to alter the dates on your doctor’s note to include the day of the exam. Have you violated the Code?



Why is this an issue?

Serious illnesses or other major life issues can be legitimate reasons for seeking exam deferrals, but forging a doctor’s note or another official document is a serious offense. Official documents are trustworthy because they give information from accredited and reliable sources. Students need to know that undermining that social contract hurts everyone, including themselves.

An interview with the disciplinary officer will be required. See the Code of Student Conduct and Disciplinary Procedures in the Handbook on Student Rights and Responsibilities for more details.

How can it be avoided?

If a student has a legitimate reason for seeking a deferral, the student needs to contact the Faculty’s student affairs/services office as soon as possible. This is where a decision can be made. If a student hands in a forged note, the course instructor must send it to the faculty disciplinary officer. Staff should explain to students that while they may have legitimate reasons for missing an exam, forgery is unacceptable.

Quick Fact

I take very good course notes. Can I sell my notes and completed assignments to next year's class?

Your class work is for your personal learning. You do not have a professor's permission to sell their course material in the form of your notes. Some professors encourage note sharing as a component of collaborative learning; this does not include the selling of notes. Your course may only have a Note-Taking Club (NTC) with your instructor's permission.

Related Information

"Eighty percent of those who used fradulent excuses reported using such excuses in an effort to obtain extra time to either complete an assignment or to study for an exam."

"...having a lenient professor (73%) was the most likely condition allowing students to use a fraudlent excuse..."
- Roig, M., & Caso, M. (2005). Lying and cheating: Fraudulent excuse making, cheating, and plagiarism. Journal of Psychology, 139(6). Retrieved from web. 

"As with the previous study, the majority of students in our sample (62% vs. 57% in Caron et al.) reported that fewer than 25% of their professors required any type of proof for their excuses..."
- Caron, M. D., Whitbourne, S. K., & Halgin, R. P. (1992). Fraudulent excuse making among college students. Teaching of Psychology, 19, 90-93. doi:10.1207/s15328023top1902_6