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A letter from an alum about John Flemming's essay on the honor code, December 17 issue.

December 29, 2003

I was surprised to read John Fleming's suggestion that the honor code might be "quaint' in the context of the complex variety of assignments now given Princeton students ("On Your Honor"). It still seems quite simple to me: You don't take credit for work that's not your own.

If he was referring to the difficulty of policing the code, perhaps a return to grading on a curve might be a beneficial change. It's a zero-sum game where cheating penalizes those who play it straight. Thus, it might give honest student a personal incentive to participate in enforcing the code. It would also rein in grade inflation, further burnishing a Princeton diploma as a credential.

I was also surprised to read that a recent winner of the lucrative Shellabarger Prize — a plagiarist, as it turned out — was dealt with in a "rightly confidential manner after he had graduated. Why not charge him with fraud, recover the money and publicize the larceny to the fullest. If the University isn't willing to take a public stand in enforcing the code, why should it expect its students to do so?

George E. Miller '54
Manhasset, N.Y.

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December 29, 2003

Professor Fleming's piece on integrity and the honor code was not only thought-provoking, but it was one of the most beautifully written essays I have ever read. Not only are current students well served by having this extraordinary individual as faculty advisor to the Undergraduate Honor Committee, but we are all blessed in having access to the work of this gifted champion of the written word.

Stephen A. Crane '67
New York, N.Y.

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