10 Questions for the Honor Council -dlh

William Dalsen

While the Honor Council publishes letters in this newspaper each term, few students understand what the code entails, despite visits by Honor Council members to Freshman Studies sections and the fact that we continually reaffirm our pledge to follow the code. What exactly are we reaffirming? We hope that Honor Council will discuss and respond to these questions below, and that all Lawrentians *******– students, faculty, and administrators alike *******– will carefully consider the problems these questions illuminate.*******No Lawrence student will unfairly advance his or her own academic performance or in any way limit or impede the academic pursuits of other students of the Lawrence community.********

1. What are the precedents? Why can’t students view them, especially when students clearly cannot be informed of these precedents through the letters published in ******The Lawrentian********?

2. If students don’t know the precedents ********– which they don’t ********– how can they reaffirm a code that they clearly do not understand? More importantly: How can students be held accountable for violating a code they clearly do not understand when this lack of understanding is through no fault of their own? To put it another way, why do you consider it fair to judge students by unwritten or private precedents?

3. Why doesn’t intent matter?

4. Plagiarizers who are caught are prevented from advancing their academic performance. The code makes no provisions for “attempting” to cheat or the “act” of cheating, and attempting to cheat does not itself advance one’s academic performance ******– in fact, it will likely hinder it. It therefore seems clear first that these plagiarizers do not violate the Honor Code because in order to violate the code one must not be caught. Please comment.

5. Students who assist another student in cheating are quite clearly not advancing their own academic performance, and in most cases, they are not damaging the performance of others. This seems to suggest that students who assist others in cheating have not violated the code. How can you justify bringing those who assist cheaters before the council, let alone punishing them, under the current rendition of the code?

6. What is fairness? Moreover, what is it to “unfairly” advance one’s academic career?

7. What is it to “advance one’s academic performance”? If one sentence in a paper is not quoted, or misquoted, does it so significantly advance the performance of the student that she deserves a two-letter grade reduction? How about two sentences? Where is the threshold ******– does one even exist? ******– and why is it set there?

8. What is it to “impede” others’ academic pursuits? What is an academic “pursuit,” and do these pursuits extend beyond the classroom?

9. If the Honor Code is the University’s way of affirming that it trusts us, why are proctored exams still the rule in some courses?

10. If our college has this uniform system to punish plagiarism, why doesn’t it provide professors with procedures for detecting plagiarism? Doesn’t this lead to a disparity between the number of cases generated in different departments? Why should history majors be more closely scrutinized than theatre arts majors?

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