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.