Honor System

The Office of Student Conduct (OSC) investigates allegations of academic fraud or academic misconduct on campus. If an infraction involves a student-athlete, the Department of Athletics may proceed simultaneously to investigate infractions related to NCAA bylaws.

The Student-Athlete Academic Initiative Working Group identified and compiled recommendations from reports over the past several years and linked each report recommendation to 21 academic processes. Report Recommendations for Honor Court

17.0 The Honor System

About the Honor Code

The Honor Code is the heart of integrity at Carolina. In brief, it says that all students shall “refrain from lying, cheating or stealing,’ but the Honor Code means much more.

For more than 130 years, UNC students have adhered to the Honor Code to hold one other accountable for maintaining a just and safe community. All students applying to UNC must agree to and sign the Honor Code.

While students enjoy a great deal of freedom at Carolina, they must also accept full responsibility for their conduct and the consequences of their actions. As such, students adjudicate and, when necessary, administer discipline and sanctions to students found in violation of the Honor Code.

The Honor Code is defined and explained in the Instrument of Student Judicial Governance (“Instrument”), the University’s official document outlining the standards of behavior and methods of resolving allegations of misconduct by students. The Instrument lists prohibited conduct and possible sanctions, and explains the extent of the University’s jurisdiction in incidents involving student behavior.

The Instrument was last updated in 2017 and Honor System procedures were updated accordingly.

17.1 The Honor System Process and Student-Athletes

Student-athletes, like all Carolina students, are bound to all requirements of the University’s Honor Code. The Honor System process for student-athletes involves Student Conduct (SC), but also requires communication and coordination with the Department of Athletics Compliance Office (Compliance) and the Academic Support Program for Student-Athletes (the ASPSA).

  1. If a student-athlete is involved in a possible infraction or incident, the Department of Athletics Compliance Office does not have to wait on the UNC Student Conduct to conduct its own investigation of academic misconduct related to the NCAA bylaws and the Honor Code. Compliance and SC investigations may proceed simultaneously.
  2. SC receives a referral reported by an instructor/professor, staff member or another student via online form, telephone or in person. The referral is entered into the Student Conduct database.
  3. SC conducts a preliminary review and decides whether the incident is reasonable basis to charge a student with a violation of the Honor Code, and if the case will go to the Honor Court.
  4. SC identifies whether a student involved in an incident is a student-athlete by cross checking data, including ConnectCarolina and Compliance Assistant at NCAA.org.
  5. The Department of Athletics’ point of contact is an Associate Athletic Director who receives the report from the SC detailing all referrals that involve student-athletes so that Athletics will be aware of any possible National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) infractions.
  6. For all Honor System cases, the student meets with the Student Attorney General. During this meeting, allegations are explained, and the student is informed of their right to decline to answer any questions. Any information the student shares in the meeting may be used by the Student Attorney General to decide whether or not to proceed with a charge against the student. The student may bring someone to the meeting (e.g. parent, counselor, coach, attorney, or non-attorney advocate).
  7. Prior to the Student Attorney General meeting, as well as throughout the process, a student-athlete, like any UNC student, may meet informally with staff from Student Conduct to receive information and guidance on the process. The student may attend this meeting with a parent, academic counselor, coach, attorney, or non-attorney advocate.
  8. A charge decision is issued within 30 days of the incident report. This may be extended to 60 or 90 days with a showing of good cause.
  9. If charged, the student is assigned a Managing Associate Attorney General (an appointed member of the Student Attorney General staff) and a conference is scheduled. This required conference must occur at least 10 days prior to the hearing unless the conference is waived by the student. During the conference, the Managing Associate Attorney General reviews the basic rights of the student as established in the Instrument of Student Judicial Governance and discusses the options available and possible hearing types. The Managing Associate assigned to a case handles all details of the case and manages the case file in coordination with the assigned investigative and defense counsels.
  10. The student is assigned a student defense counsel from within the staff of the Student Attorney General. A student may also decline the assignment of a student defense counsel or select another student counsel from within the undergraduate student body. In limited circumstances (not including academic cases or cases heard entirely by a student panel), the student may choose to be represented by a licensed attorney or non-attorney advocate (of their choosing in accordance with N.C. Gen. Stat. Section 116-40.1.
  11. SC provides general oversight for the student conduct process and aids in obtaining supplemental information regarding sanctioning that is provided to the investigating counsel, the defense counsel, and the, when appropriate, the Honor Court
  12. When it is established that the student-athlete will proceed to adjudication (i.e., following a charge), Compliance produces a Ramification Report explaining the specific results of various sanctions. The Ramification Report provides the facts describing the intersection of University rules and sanctions with NCAA rules and sanctions. No opinion is given in the Ramification Report on possible sanctions.
  13. Following a charge and before a hearing decision has been made, SC may request the Ramification Report from Compliance. If a student or Honor System representative asks for a Ramification Report from the ASPSA, Student-Athlete Development or a coach, the student or representative is referred to Compliance, which communicates directly with SC.
  14. The Ramification Report is seen by the student and the two counsels. The Honor Court does not see the Ramification Report unless the student is found responsible for a violation of the Honor Code and the case goes to the sanctioning phase.
  15. The student has the right to call relevant witnesses to provide relevant testimony during the hearing. Witnesses may not attend the entire proceeding; they may only be present in the hearing room during the time they are providing testimony.
  16. In addition to witnesses, students may submit documentary evidence during the hearing, including but not limited to, letters of support.
  17. The Honor Court determines whether the student is responsible for the charge and, as appropriate, determines a sanction. Absent extraordinary circumstances, the Honor Court decision is communicated verbally to the student on the evening of the hearing, and then communicated in writing, together with a rationale for the decision, a few days after the hearing. Depending on the circumstances of the case, the student may be eligible to appeal the decision.
  18. A case does not become final until after all appeals have been exhausted. As provided in the Instrument, sanctions imposed by the Honor Court are stayed and do not go into effect until a case becomes final.
  19. At the conclusion of the case, SC sends notifications as determined by the needs of the given case. Examples may include:
  • Notice of action and final sanctions to the student (the Rationale Statement is provided to the student as soon as it is available)
  • Notice of action and final sanctions to the Registrar (if the sanction involves a grade penalty and/or change in student status, e.g., suspension)
  • Notice of action and final sanctions to Athletics (does not include the Rationale Statement).
  • Notice of action to Housing and Residential Education (if the sanction affects an on-campus housing assignment)
  1. SC sends notice of action and final sanctions to the Associate Athletic Director, who may share this information, depending on the particular situation, with the following:
  • The ASPSA
  • Student-Athlete Development
  • Compliance
  • Sport Program Administrator
  • Coach

17.2 Honor System training for student-athletes

The Honor System works with the ASPSA and Student-Athlete Development to train all student-athletes on academic integrity and non-academic misconduct related to the Honor System process. All teams and team members are required to attend Honor System training. Training details the Honor System process and emphasizes academic integrity and responsibility. Student Conduct and the Dean of Students strongly recommend that all head coaches attend their team’s Honor System training so that they may reiterate this message to their team: “Do not cheat. When presented with the option of failing an assignment or examination versus cheating, always be honest. Always make the right choice: do not cheat.”

Honor System training:

  • Explains the Honor System procedures.
  • Emphasizes academic integrity and responsibility.
  • Educates student-athletes on University policies and resources that will help them make informed decisions about academic integrity and non-academic misconduct.