Occasionally, students report witnessing other students engaging in dishonest behaviour but wish to remain anonymous. While we must take these students seriously and follow up on their allegations of misconduct, we must also ensure that the accused student has the opportunity to respond to the allegations. Part of knowing the case against oneself is knowing who has made the allegation. Consequently, laying Code charges based solely on an anonymous report is at odds with the principles of natural justice; it is necessary to find corroborating evidence in order to proceed.
On the other hand, it takes courage and conviction for a student to come forward with a report, even if it’s one you are unable to verify. We must not alienate those students who are trying to do the right thing by bringing academic dishonesty to our attention. We should be sure to communicate some kind of resolution to the students who brought the situation to light in the first place. While privacy law prevents us from disclosing the actual details and outcome of a case, you can thank them for coming forward and assure them that the University takes their concerns seriously and is doing all it can to address the issue they reported.
While an anonymous report may not provide enough evidence to proceed with charges against a particular student, you may certainly gain some ideas as to how to prevent the same kind of activity in the future. Changes designed to prevent academic dishonesty benefit everyone involved, and the students who initiated the complaint can be assured that they have made a contribution to academic integrity at the University of Alberta. Providing a way for students to discuss academic dishonesty with you encourages discussion and allows students a role in promoting academic integrity.