Professional and Academic Ethics Code

Students at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies are preparing themselves for professional and academic careers. As such, they must develop and maintain the highest standards of ethical behavior and professional integrity. Any violation of the rules set out below calls into question the student’s ability to maintain high ethical standards and thus is considered a serious offense by the faculty. These regulations and procedures indicate some of the actions that the faculty considers inappropriate for members of an academic community. Among the offenses subject to disciplinary action are the following:

  1. Cheating and plagiarism. Plagiarism and cheating are understood to include all forms of misrepresentation in academic and professional work, such as:
    1. failure to acknowledge ideas and phrases used in an essay or report that were gained from another writer, including the internet (any direct quotation must be specifically attributed and any other reliance on a reference must be acknowledged);
    2. laboratory or field report that misrepresents the work actually done;
    3. submission of the same paper in more than one course unless explicit permission from the instructors has been obtained in advance;
    4. use of work prepared by another person or by a hired writer;
    5. use of prepared notes in an examination or communicating with another person during an examination (including take-home examinations) unless specifically authorized by the instructor;
    6. unauthorized use of electronic files belonging to another person
  2. Sexual harassment as defined by University Policies.
  3. Misconduct at a formal inquiry. Deliberate and knowing misrepresentation or lying at a formal inquiry conducted by School or University authorities.
  4. Unauthorized or fraudulent use of services or facilities (such as computer services or the Yale telephone system).
  5. Library offenses. Unauthorized removal, stashing or sequestering, defacing, mutilating or theft of library materials or willful or repeated failure to respond to recall notices.
  6. Serious violations of the person, the property, the privacy, or the individual rights of members or guests of the University, including the right to freely express one’s views.
  7. Exploitation or deception of the University community in any form.
  8. Illegal behavior directed against the University community, its members, or guests.

Group Work Versus Individual Evaluation

In some cases, F&ES courses will involve group work, interaction, and even joint work products. In most cases, however, students are required to submit papers and/or examinations that are not collaborative efforts. If any doubt exists that collaboration is permitted, students should consult the relevant professors.

With information easily transferable via computer file, students must be especially diligent when accounting for sources consulted. Faculty members should make clear to students their expectations about when written work is to be exclusively the students own versus when it is to be collaborative, when texts and other references may or may not be consulted, and when past work (or work in other courses) may or may not be drawn upon. In the absence of clear statements to the contrary, the presumption is that the faculty expect papers and examinations to be exclusively the work of an individual student prepared originally for the course. The Disciplinary Committee will deal with instances when faculty expectations about such matters are violated and with any other instances in which deception is used in academic work. Any instance of academic dishonesty is considered to be an extremely serious violation.

Students are encouraged to disclose fully information about collaborators on group projects and to check with the faculty member teaching the course regarding the appropriateness of collaboration in instances when there is any ambiguity about the faculty member’s expectations.

Disciplinary Policies & Procedures

F&ES MP Committee Members of the Masters Program Committee will serve as the Disciplinary Committee. The Committee consists of the faculty and staff members and two student representatives. The student representatives shall serve on a particular case if the student who is the target of the inquiry so chooses. The Disciplinary Committee shall have jurisdiction over any violation of the F&ES Professional and Academic Ethics Code as enumerated above. The Committee shall report to the faculty on each case that results in the finding of a violation including the student(s) involved, the offenses that occurred, and the penalties imposed. The same information, without student names, will be shared with the F&ES community as a whole.

Recusals At the beginning of the investigation the Disciplinary Committee Chair will inform Committee members of the individual(s) involved in the case. Committee members will be invited to excuse themselves from the case if there is a conflict of interest. If a Committee member is excused, the Chair will recommend to the Dean a successor for temporary appointment to the Committee for participation in the matter. At the beginning of the investigation, the Chair will inform the student whose conduct is in question of the procedures that will be followed and will notify the student of the membership of the Committee. Within one day after receiving that notification, the student may object to member(s) as prejudiced by stating in writing the basis for this objection. On receipt of this objection, the Chair will rule on whether the member should be recused from taking part in the proceedings and, if this is done will recommend to the Dean a successor for temporary appointment to the Committee for participation in the matter. A decision of the Chair not to recuse the challenged member will be communicated to the student, who may within one day after receiving the notice appeal the decision to the Dean. The Dean’s decision to deny or grant the appeal will be final.

Disposition Without A Formal Hearing When a student admits a violation and requests a disposition without a formal hearing, the Chair of the Disciplinary Committee, in consultation with the Dean, will decide whether to grant the request and if it is granted, will decide on the appropriate penalty for the violation and notify the student in writing. If the student desires, he or she will have an opportunity to talk with the Committee Chair before a decision about the appropriate penalty is made. If the student is dissatisfied with the penalty assigned, he or she may, within seven days after receiving notice of the penalty, request a formal hearing before the Disciplinary Committee solely on the issue of the penalty. At such a hearing, the Committee may uphold the Committee Chair’s decision, assign a lesser penalty or assign a more severe one. In the absence of such a request for a formal hearing on the penalty, the proposed decision will be final.

Disposition Through a formal hearing all disciplinary matters shall proceed through the formal process outlined below if the student denies the charges or if a request for disposition without a hearing is denied.

Process Although deviations may be taken by the Chair when appropriate to a given case, the following steps are customary:

  1. The work of the Committee normally begins when a member of the University community (faculty, student, or staff ) brings a possible violation or infraction to the attention of any F&ES Administrator or Faculty member, who shall refer the matter to the Chair of the Disciplinary Committee. The Chair shall request a statement of facts from both the person bringing the charge forward and the charged student as well as copies of any materials pertinent to the complaint.
  2. Based on these materials, the Chair in consultation with the Assistant Dean of Student Services shall decide whether the offense, if the charge is true, is of sufficient seriousness to warrant the attention of the Committee. Should that be the case, the Assistant Dean shall inform the student who is the subject of the complaint in writing. At the same time the student will be given a copy of the Committee Policies and Procedures to apprise the student of his or her rights: (a) to appear before the Committee, (b) to be accompanied by any member of the University community to act as his or her advisor*, (c) to examine any and all written materials being provided to the Committee as soon as possible, and ordinarily at least forty-eight hours in advance of the meeting, so that the student may have ample opportunity to question or refute them. At the beginning of a meeting with the student who is the subject of complaint, the Chair will review the Procedures of the Committee and the process to be followed in meetings with the Committee.
  3. The Committee will endeavor to conduct its business in such a way as to protect the privacy and personal integrity of all individuals who are involved with the case. Hearings shall be conducted according to the procedures outlined. In addition, it will seek to make its judgments as promptly as is consistent with the need to establish the facts of the case and to come to judgments based on these facts.
  4. The Committee will seek to make its decisions by consensus. When consensus is impossible, a majority vote will be taken. No decision shall be made without a quorum of Committee members (defined as a majority of both faculty and students present and participating).
  5. If the Committee finds an infraction or violation, it will then decide on an appropriate penalty. To provide for some consistency in penalties year by year, the Committee shall study the files and inform the Committee of penalties meted out in similar cases of prior years. Penalties will be set based upon the severity of the infraction, rather than the impact of such penalty on the student’s personal situation.
  6. The Committee shall inform the Dean of its proposed conclusion and penalty. The Dean will determine whether the Committee’s conclusion is supported by the evidence. If the Dean determines that the conclusion is not supported by the evidence, the Dean will remand the decision of the Committee for further fact-finding or deliberation. The Dean shall also review the proposed penalty and may approve it or reduce it if he or she deems a lesser penalty to serve the cause of justice.
  7. Unless remanded by the Dean after review, the finding of an infraction or violation is set, as is the penalty upon the Dean’s concurrence.
  8. The Committee Chair will inform those against whom complaints have been made of the penalty to be imposed within twenty-four hours of the Dean’s final decision.


The following penalties are among those which may be imposed by the faculty, arranged in order of increasing severity:

Reprimand A written statement of censure that will remain on the student’s record until the student leaves the School and will then be expunged.

Restriction Denial of the use of certain University facilities or of the right to participate in certain activities or privileges.

Disciplinary Probation The student is in official jeopardy. The commission of a serious offense while on probation will normally result in suspension or expulsion. A permanent notation is made on the student’s record as to the period of probation but not the reason.

Suspension Separation from some or all functions of the School for a stated period. A permanent notation is placed on the student’s record and indicates the nature of the suspension.

Expulsion The student is permanently and irrevocably expelled from the School or from one or more courses. A permanent notation is made on the student’s record. Expulsion from a course will result in failing the course.

Reconsideration of Disciplinary Decisions

Disciplinary decisions approved by the Dean upon recommendation of the Disciplinary Committee take effect immediately. Students may, however, request review of any such decisions as described below. The decision will remain in effect unless and until changed by the Dean.

The Committee Of Review There shall be a Committee of Review, which will hear appeals of the results of the formal hearing process outlined above. The Committee of Review will be composed of three faculty members appointed by the Dean who are not on the Disciplinary Committee and one student appointed by the Dean with advice from the Assistant Dean of Student Services.

Request For Review A student who has been assigned a penalty by the Dean after a hearing by the Disciplinary Committee and who believes that the decision, in matters of fact or the assignment of penalties, is inconsistent with precedent or otherwise in error may submit a written request for review to the Chair of Disciplinary Committee within one week of being notified of a final decision. This request must be accompanied with a written rationale for reconsideration of the disciplinary decision. The Committee of Review will have access to all the written records of the Disciplinary Committee. The Committee of Review may hold an additional hearing and/or request specific information from the charged or other parties to the matter at hand. The hearing shall be conducted according to the procedures below.

Possible Actions By The Committee Of Review In response to such a request, the Committee of Review will have the right to (1) decline to take action; or (2) make a revised recommendation to the Dean. The Dean shall then impose the revised proposed penalty or one less severe if he or she deems a lesser penalty to serve the cause of justice.

Possible Reasons for Requesting Reconsideration It is anticipated that in the large majority of cases, the Review Committee will decline to take action. It will propose a revised disposition only in cases where it believes that (1) some pertinent evidence was not taken into account; (2) long-standing precedents, in decisions of culpability and the assignment of penalties, were ignored; (3) errors in procedure may have substantially affected the decisions; (4) certain key principles of the University were not sufficiently considered in the original decision.

Student Appeal Procedure

Attendance At The Hearing The hearing shall be closed except for the members of the Committee of Review, including at the determination of the charged student/student members. The charged student may bring an advisor.* The student may bring a reasonable number of witnesses or others whose testimony may be illuminating as to the facts and circumstances at issue.

Documents Members of the Committee will be given (at the time or prior to the hearing) all documents relevant to the case. These materials will be provided to the student at least 48 hours before the hearing.

Opening Statements The Chair of the Committee of Review will open the proceedings by reviewing the charges in the presence of the student. The student will then be asked to respond to the charges and make such other comments that he/she deems appropriate. Members of the Committee may question the student as to the facts of the case.

Dispute As To Facts Typically the inquiry focuses on the significance and interpretation of the facts rather than on their existence. Those who reported the possible violation shall also be available for questioning. Witnesses, if any, can be questioned either by the student or by the Committee.

Deliberation At the conclusion of the hearing, the student will be asked to withdraw and the Committee will decide whether a violation has occurred and what penalty is appropriate. The Committee’s decision will be recorded in the minutes and will be communicated to the student, both orally and in writing within 24 hours.

Documentation The Chair of the Committee of Review shall designate a secretary who shall keep minutes of the hearing and of all Committee meetings. These minutes and any other Committee documents, materials, or records shall be maintained in a locked file in the Assistant Dean of Student Services' Office. These materials will be made available only to members of the Disciplinary Committee and Committee of Review and to outside authorities as required by law.

*Role of the advisor in the F&ES disciplinary process: the student’s advisor is not an advocate, but rather a source of support to the student. The advisor may help the student in preparing for the meetings with the Disciplinary Committee or Committee of Review and may accompany the student to the meetings. During the meetings, the advisor may quietly suggest questions or issues for the student to raise. The advisor does not participate directly in the meetings.

F&ES Student Support for Grievances

During your stay at F&ES, you may have a problem that you wish to discuss with someone on the staff. In the past, students have had problems with the School’s or Yale’s bureaucracy, with the direction of the School, with the behavior of a faculty, student or staff, or with personal problems outside of School, to mention a sample. These problems may be chronic or acute, may be very troublesome or just annoyances. There are routes you can use to seek assistance. Talk to your friends, to faculty and staff whom you trust. Often a talk with a thoughtful individual will help you understand better how your experiences are bothering you. Joanne DeBernardo, Assistant Dean of Student Services, and Matthew Kotchen, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, are always willing to listen. Some problems have specific committees and procedures, notably academic cheating and sexual harassment. Please get in touch with Joanne DeBernardo immediately if these problems arise.