Ten common questions
The Honor Committee handles violations of the Honor Code, which covers only in-class examinations. The Committee on Discipline handles all other academic violations (i.e. plagiarism, lab reports, homework, take-home exams) as well as disciplinary infractions. The Honor Committee is composed solely of students, whereas the Committee on Discipline has faculty, deans, and students.
One person’s word against another’s is never enough evidence for a conviction. In cases involving a single witness, the committee requires corroborating physical evidence (i.e. examinations, notes, outside experts, etc.) in order to find an accused student guilty.
The investigation and hearing process is completely confidential. If the reporting witness is a student, his/her name remains anonymous to all but the Honor Committee Chair and the two Honor Committee members assigned to investigate the case. However, if the reporting witness is a faculty member, his/her name will be available to the student in question upon request. In all cases, the student in question's identity is held absolutely confidential.
Approximately 15-20 suspected violations are reported to the Honor Committee each year. The committee investigates each one, and about one-third of reported incidents will go forward to a hearing. The number of students found guilty of violating the Honor Code varies from year to year.
5. What is the appropriate pledge to sign on examinations?
"I pledge my honor that I have not violated the Honor Code during this examination." – followed by the student’s signature.
Re-signing the pledge personalizes the contract between the professors and students. It serves to reaffirm each student’s commitment to uphold the Honor Code.
The committee will always evaluate to what extent a student was informed of class policies, but generally speaking, ignorance is not a defense for an Honor Code violation. It is always the responsibility of the student to know what is and is not allowed on a particular exam. If there is ever a doubt regarding the class policy on exams, please ask your professor for clarification.
If a student reports a violation within a reasonable amount of time and cooperates with the Honor Committee, he/she is not violating the Honor Code. Failure to report a violation within a reasonable period of time constitutes a violation of the Code.
The Constitution of the Honor System can be changed by a petition of 200 students followed by a three-fourths vote in a student referendum, or upon the initiative of seven of the Honor Committee members followed by a three-fourths vote of the Undergraduate Student Government.
The penalties include probation; a one, two or three year suspension or suspension with conditions; and expulsion. The standard penalty is a one-year suspension. Censure can be added to all penalties to underscore the seriousness of the violation.