Professionalism Policy

A key mission of the BYU School of Communications is to prepare students for their eventual workplace experiences. Whether a communications graduate pursues a career in journalism, advertising, public relations, law, business or any other field, they will be evaluated, in part, on professionalism.

Because we feel our responsibility strongly – and because it is essential to the career growth of our graduates – the School of Communications instituted a Professionalism policy effective at the beginning of Fall Semester 2004.

This policy applies both to students who have been admitted to one of our three emphases and to pre-communications students. Some key features:

  • Any student found in violation of the University Honor Code, especially with regard to honesty, cheating, or plagiarism may, at the discretion of the School, be referred to the Honor Code office. Any assignments involving cheating or plagiarism will receive a zero, possibly leading to a failing final grade in the applicable course. The offending student’s case will be reviewed by the School Director and/or Associate Director for Undergraduate Studies. If the offense is sufficiently serious, the student may be removed from the major – no matter how close graduation may be. A second violation of academic honesty, whether done concurrently or subsequently, will automatically result in dismissal from the major.
  • Any pre-communications student found cheating may be denied the opportunity to apply to any of our three emphases. This decision rests with the School Director and Associate Director for Undergraduate Studies.
  • Any applications to the major containing misleading information will be dismissed and the student disqualified from entering the program.  Any petitions, internship, or scholarship applications containing misleading information will lead to academic discipline, including a referral to the University Honor Code Office.
  • Students who demonstrate consistently unprofessional behavior may also be dropped from the major or not allowed to apply. Examples of unprofessional behavior include – but are not limited to – incivility (whether directed toward faculty, professional staff, advisors, receptionists, or fellow students), excessive absences, disruptive behavior, sleeping in class, chronic tardiness, reading non-course material during class, playing computer games and/or checking email during class, use of cell phone or text-messaging, and regularly leaving class early without making arrangements with the instructor.
  • Students who demonstrate flagrant or intentional disregard for conflicts of interest or professional codes of ethics may be dropped from the major or not allowed to apply. Examples of such behavior may include – but are not limited to – using school facilities for personal, commercial, or political use or for violating non-disclosure agreements or inappropriately sharing proprietary information.

Policy Enforcement

If an instructor or administrator feels he or she has a student in violation of this policy, the following should be followed:

  • First warning: This will come from the instructor or administrator. A meeting between the instructor or administrator and the student will be conducted to resolve the issues of unprofessional behavior. In serious instances of cheating or plagiarism, the School of Communications can be involved. Following this consultation, the professor or administrator and student will sign a letter that describes the problem and subsequent resolution. The School will keep this letter in the student’s file.
  • Second warning: This will come from the School (either the director or associate director for undergraduate studies). At this time, the student will be reviewed for removal from the School of Communications.  Both sides of the case will be presented to a review committee composed of faculty from the student’s emphasis, and a decision will follow a deliberation. A letter explaining the decision must be signed by the members of the committee and will be placed in the student’s file.
  • Appeal: The first appeal will be to the Undergraduate Committee. Second appeal will be to the School director. Final appeal will be to the college.

Why a policy on Professionalism?

It begins with the demand for entrance into our emphases and the fact that some students are being turned away. However, some who are successful in their pursuit of a particular major can then demonstrate unprofessional behavior. We have decided we would rather take a student who has a less-impressive academic record but will work diligently than a higher ranking student who treats the major casually and without respect.

A second factor is the tendency of some students to “coast” once in an emphasis. This behavior is potentially serious to a student, who is unlikely to suddenly develop professionalism if hired by an agency, newspaper or television station, nonprofit organization or other employer. This, in turn, reflects on the reputation of the university, our School and the degree conferred.

This policy is consistent with those already in effect elsewhere in the university. With thousands of young people desiring to attend BYU – many with an interest in Communications – we feel an obligation to admit and retain the students who demonstrate the kind of work ethic and professional behavior that will enhance our collective academic and professional performance.

Approved 2004 (Amended 2011, 2013, 2015) 
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