Business Student Code of Ethics

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An organization’s actions must be driven by and performed consistently with its mission. Therefore, the Division of Business (Division) is responsible to comply with the mission of the University and the Division. 

The Northwestern Oklahoma State University mission statement provides:

Northwestern Oklahoma State University provides quality educational and cultural opportunities to learners with diverse needs by cultivating ethical leadership, critical thinking, and fiscal responsibility.

The Division of Business mission statement provides:

The Division of Business provides a quality, student-oriented learning environment to prepare students to be adept, ethical, fiscally responsible business professionals and leaders, not only in the workplace but also in their communities, contributing to the intellectual, cultural, and economic vitality of our world.

In a student-centered learning environment, faculty, staff and students should strive to support and enrich the learning environment. It is the mission of the Division to develop ethical business professionals and leaders. In order to be successful, it is important that students, professors and staff of the Division of Business abide by a code of ethics. The Faculty Code of Ethics is available for review on the Division of Business webpage.

A student code of ethics should be centered on two important and central concepts, academic integrity and professional conduct.  Academic integrity involves student conduct in accomplishing the requirements of a course, minor or major. Professionalism involves behavior and attitude in the classroom and outside the classroom.

All students taking classes offered/taught by the Division of Business are required to read and agree to the terms of this Student Code of Ethics. Student with a major or minor in a Business Discipline are expected to abide by the terms of this Student Code of Ethics in all classes, whether or not offered/taught by the Division of Business. Failure to so agree may result in removal from the class. Failure to abide by this Student Code of Ethics may result in disciplinary action as set forth later in this code.


Business students and students taking Business classes are expected to have high standards of integrity regarding their academic pursuits.

The Northwestern Oklahoma State University Student Handbook provides on page 124 (2009-2010 edition):

All forms of academic dishonesty including cheating, plagiarism, unauthorized possession of exams or other materials, forgery, or alteration or misuse of university records, are subject to disciplinary action by the university. The forgery of faculty signatures is prohibited. You must get authentic signatures on all official documents.

The papers, examinations, assignments, projects, etc. should be the original work of the student.  A student may not use a paper, project, assignment, etc. for two different classes without the express consent, in advance, of both professors involved.  To use, all or a substantial portion of, a paper, project, assignment, etc. in two classes without the express consent of both professors is academic dishonesty.

Plagiarism whether intentional or unintentional is a violation of this Code of Ethics and will be subject to disciplinary action as set forth by this code.  According to Robert Perrin, Pocket Guide to APA Style, Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004 (p. 15-16):

Plagiarism is the use of someone else’s words, ideas, or line of thought without acknowledgement.  Even when it is inadvertent – the result of careless note-taking, punctuating, or documenting – the writer is still at fault for dishonest work.

Academic integrity requires students to convey, directly or indirectly, accurate information to staff, professors and administrators regarding the student’s experience, qualification, grades and other relevant information regarding academic pursuits, awards, scholarships, recognition, etc.  A student starting a course without having taken the prerequisites would be an example of not conveying accurate information.  


Professional conduct is expected in a student’s interaction with classmates, staff members, professors, administrators and others. Professionalism includes ethical behavior, appropriate attire, proper behavior, promptness, and respect. Professionalism dictates that there should be no discrimination or harassment based on race, color, sex, national origin, religion, age, disability or sexual preference. Examples of unprofessional behavior include, but are not limited to: arriving to class late, leaving class early, using cell phone or other electronic two-way communication devices (should be turned off or ringer set to silent) in class without prior authorization, using obscenity or other disrespectful language, harassment, other disruptive behaviors, and being non-communicative (i.e. not checking university email, Blackboard, phone messages, etc.). Professional conduct is expected in all classes, campus activities and off-campus university-related events.

Certainly, professionalism necessitates students complying with all federal, state and local laws and university, Business Division and classroom policies. Professional behavior implies that a person is putting forth his/her best efforts. Fairness and objectivity are also elements of professionalism. 

Students are expected to honor confidences and not disclose confidential information.  A professional protects the privacy of others with whom he/she interacts (i.e. administrators, faculty, staff and peers) by inappropriately disclosing confidential information about such a person.  Further, a professional will not discuss or post any negative or private information about those with whom he/she interacts (i.e. administrators, faculty, staff and peers) on any electronic venue (i.e. Myspace, Facebook, Twitter, web sites, blogs, etc.). 

A profession has the duty to police itself. Therefore, professionalism calls for members of the profession to self-report improper behaviors. Not reporting unethical or improper conduct makes a person with such knowledge complicit in the behavior.

Conflicts of interest should be avoided if possible.  For example, if a student cannot evaluate a classmate fairly and in good faith, the student should speak with the professor about a conflict of interest. 

Each professor may set specific policies regarding acceptable professional behavior in his/her class. Students are expected to abide by those policies and may be penalized or disciplined for not adhering to class policies.


Faculty members have the initial responsibility for handling violations of this code of ethics in their classrooms, offices or other academic activities in which they are involved.  The sanctions available to the professor include:

  1. Informal warning (oral or email)
  2. Formal warning (email or other written format)
  3. Remove student from classroom for day
  4. Require the work to be redone and resubmitted
  5. Require the student to complete additional work
  6. Lowering the grade of work in question
  7. Lowering the overall grade in the course
  8. Recommend administrative withdrawal from the class
  9. Assigning an “F” or “0” for the work in question
  10. Assigning an “F” for the class
  11. Recommend the student be referred for university-level disciplinary action   

The above sanctions are not meant to be progressive steps; rather the professor may impose any sanction on the list the professor believes appropriate.  A student who is assigned an “F” in the class for disciplinary reasons will not be allowed to withdraw from the class, even if the withdraw deadline has not passed. A student who has violated the code of ethics on three or more different occasions may be referred by a professor or the Division Chair to the Vice President for Student Affairs for disciplinary action at the university level, despite the fact that the individual violations may not rise to the level that alone would warrant university disciplinary action.  

A student who receives a sanction for violating this code of ethics may appeal to the Division Chair. The Division Chair shall communicate with the student and the faculty member involved regarding the violation and the sanction. The Division Chair may communicate with others involved or who witnessed the occurrence. The Division Chair shall notify the student and faculty member in writing or by email of his/her decision.  A student may appeal the Division Chair’s decision to the Dean of the School of Professional Studies. If the professor initially involved is the Division Chair, then the appeal will be directly to the Dean of the School of Professional Studies.