Honor Code Essay

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The of integrity—which requires students to “attest to the honesty of [their] academic work and affirm that it conforms to the standards of the Harvard College Honor Code”—will have to be signed before every major test and paper.

It should serve as a reminder of the importance and value of academic integrity at the times in which cheating is most tempting.

in April, an honor code shaped by the student body moves the moral responsibility of academic dishonesty away from the administration and onto the students.

The development of a declaration and honor board puts more onus on student judgment and decision-making.

These are positive developments toward fostering a culture of academic honesty at the College.

Over time, we hope that they will help to create a community that better upholds the ideals of honesty and integrity.Some have defended the students, noting that in professional situations, collaboration would be encouraged rather than condemned.Anonymous contributors to a political science blog and job board (the course in question was on introductory government) have been less forgiving.“Instead, it’s almost solely about figuring out what will be asked (in papers, tests, and other assessments), learning that material long enough to produce it when necessary, and then moving on to the next thing.” Mollie Galloway, an assistant professor of education and counseling at Lewis & Clark College in Oregon, conducted research finding that 93 percent of students at a group of affluent high schools had cheated in one way or another – be it copying answers, using electronics in class, or plagiarizing.Singling out the juniors and seniors, she found that 26 percent had cheated in 7 or more of 13 different ways.Having students on the honor board not only makes the process more transparent to the student body but also gives those with the best knowledge of the infractions at hand—current students—a say in the correct punitive measures.Judgment before one’s peers can also be a deterrent to potential cheaters.(Granted, some of the students also complained that they got in trouble for behavior that would have been tolerated in years past; the course apparently had a reputation of being easy.) In course evaluations, reported, they said the exam questions did not cover material taught in the course, and that questions “were designed to trick you rather than test your understanding of the material.” Some said the teaching assistants assigned to help the students gave everyone the same answers.Those who are under investigation -- half the students who took the class, or 2 percent of the entire undergraduate population – face possible one-year suspensions, and some of those who have already graduated and might have their diplomas revoked are now threatening to sue the university.Far from meaningless talk, the honor code and declaration can have a positive psychological impact by reminding each student of the culture of academic honesty and integrity to which we all should strive.And at the very least, a declaration of integrity is unlikely to have any negative effects on academic honesty.


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