American jurisprudence guarantees that anyone facing criminal charges can be judged by a jury of his or her peers. The same principle is true for the Committee of Academic Misconduct at Ohio State.
COAM is tasked with addressing suspected cases of academic misconduct brought to its attention by faculty and with deciding disciplinary action. A Lantern review of COAM records in the fall showed that Ohio State has seen a 57 percent increase in academic misconduct cases from 553 cases in the 2014-15 academic year to 906 cases this past school year.
The committee is 40 members strong, comprising 22 faculty members, nine undergraduate students and nine graduate students.
Undergraduate panel members are appointed by Undergraduate Student Government, while graduate students are appointed by the Council of Graduate Students and faculty by the University Senate.
“All of us — both students and the people that work at Ohio State — have an obligation to support the integrity of the university,” Jay Hobgood, COAM provost and associate geography professor, said. “It also protects the rights of the students who appear before the panel because some of the people making the decision are students.”
Student panel members have full, equal voting and speaking rights on the committee.
“You definitely aren’t treated less just because you’re a student, which I was definitely worried that would happen, but they are very respectful of you and they want you to offer your opinion,” Alexandra Hensley, a second-year in city and regional planning and alternate panel member, said.
Madeline Perry, a third-year in accounting, said that when she was a freshman, her USG mentor recommended she consider joining the committee. Perry applied and was appointed as an undergraduate panel member and is now in her second year.
Perry said that working on the committee has changed the way she works on assignments and she now pays special attention to the details of her class syllabuses. She said she thinks more about what qualifies as academic misconduct, especially after hearing about all the different ways professors discover academic misconduct.
Perry, director of student health and safety for USG, said she aspires to work within government after college and the experience of being a panel member of COAM has helped with her professional development.
“I know when I first enter the working world, I’m going to be at the very bottom. I’m the youngest coming in,” Perry said. “Already having experience being the youngest person in the room is helpful because I’m finding my voice and how I can stand up for what I think is right.”