Ten common questions

1. What is the difference between the Honor Committee and the Committee on Discipline?

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.

2. What happens when evidence comes down to one person’s word against another?

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.

3. Will the "student in question" know who the reporting witness is? How confidential is the process?

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.

4. How many students are usually reported each year? Of those, how many are found guilty?

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.

6. Since they sign a statement and write an essay before matriculation, why must students sign the Honor pledge at the conclusion of every examination?

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.

7. What if I violated the Honor Code because I didn’t know what the examination policy was?

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.

8. If a student does not report a suspected violation, is he/she guilty of violating the Honor Code?

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.

9. How can the Honor Code/Committee be changed?

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.

10. What is the range of penalties assigned by the Honor Committee?

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.