Discourse / Editorials / February 20, 2013

Thoughts from the Embers: Honor Code accessibility

EmbersThe Honor Code has been undergoing evaluation over the last year, and we are beginning to see the proposals for possible changes made by its review committee, but the Code may already be lacking its most crucial component: active participation.

As students, when we arrive on campus, we are agreeing to abide by the rules and regulations of this institution. By continuing to pay thousands of dollars in tuition, we acknowledge that our education is worth something.

What it’s worth is based almost entirely on what it represents. In receiving a Knox diploma, we are acknowledged as having reached certain academic standards, which lose all value if our academic integrity as an institution is threatened. As students, we are held accountable by the Honor Code, but we are not the only ones who have a responsibility to uphold it.

There comes a time when faculty must choose whether or not they will participate in the Honor Code.

It is the responsibility of the faculty to report suspected cases of academic dishonesty, but there appears to be a major discrepancy between cases brought before the Honor Board and the number of cases actually occurring on campus at any given time.

From the perspective of the professor, an Honor Board case is a time commitment for something that — especially if the issue occurred with a homework assignment rather than a larger project — simply might not be worth the effort.

But if this isn’t being universally applied, can we even call it a code?

Some changes, such as altering legal phrasing from “guilty” and “not guilty” to “responsible” and “not responsible” seem to be silly, artificial choices.

While there are of course connotations with legal jargon, changing the word does not change the responsible party’s penalty and does not make this code more student or faculty friendly.

The suggestions of adding paperwork to the Honor Code process and adding a conference between the accusing professor and the student makes this system more time consuming and more difficult for faculty to navigate. To a certain extent, by agreeing to teach here, they agree to uphold Knox’s core values, but it is also the duty of the school to make our systems easy enough for them to navigate.

The Honor Code is a student-implemented concept, but in order to function, we need the support of the entire school, including faculty. If we do not allow their voices to be heard as a part of the process, their inevitable lack of participation will become a major problem.

*Editor-in-chief Anna Meier and Co-News Editor Matt Barry serve on the Honor Board and were unable to contribute to this editorial.

TKS Editorial Board

Tags:  case change ethics faculty hcrc honor code Knox College proposal

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