The Lawrence University Honor Code and what it means to our community has been the subject of many Lawrentian articles over the years – and rightfully so, as the Honor Code is essentially the cornerstone of our academic life.
Certainly, the consequences of violating the Honor Code are well-known among students, and the stories of the effect these consequences have had on particular students are, despite strict requirements of confidentiality, definitely talked about on campus.
In fact, from the day that students accept their admission to Lawrence, we are made aware of, and are bound to adhere to, the LU Honor Code. We are aware of our responsibility to our peers, and what upholding this code of conduct means for each of us as students.
As we consider what the Honor Code means to us as students, I would like to put forth a new way of looking at the Lawrence University Honor Code, and how violating it affects our community.
As I have in previous articles, I’ll put forth my bias immediately; I am the current co-chair of the council, along with Elise Mozena, and after three years on the council, I have had a very broad range of experiences with the perspective that students have about our Honor Code. Most students have not had any issue expressing these attitudes to the council, whether positive or negative, and how they see Honor Code violations is often evident in their interactions with us.
It is the duty of the council to hear the voices of our peers, and we absolutely respect their opinions. However, what many students do not know, and do not get to hear, are the perspectives and voices of professors involved in Honor Council cases, and how Honor Code violations affect them and how they see us as students.
One of the benefits of going to a small university is having the ability to work closely with professors, and the unique opportunity to get to know them in a more personal way. It is a privilege in an undergraduate setting to be seen as more of a colleague than a student, and Honor Code violations directly impact how professors view this relationship.
When a student violates the Honor Code, they disadvantage their peers by breaking the unique bond of trust that exists between professors and students at Lawrence. Some professors following Honor Code violations have said that they feel as though they will never be able to trust their students again, and that the genuine freedom to give un-proctored, take-home, or Moodle exams is one that they don’t feel they will ever be able to allow their classes to have in the future.
Believe it or not, Lawrence University professors – yes, all of them – put a great deal of work, research and passion into creating their classes. They expect students to rise to a certain standard of respect, and they do legitimately trust their classes to do their own work no matter the circumstance.
I do not mean to suggest with these statements that professors are unable to forgive their students, or will forever hold grudges or harbor ill-will towards students who violate the Honor Code. On the contrary, professors generally look forward to resolving Honor Code related matters, and make it a point to make sure that the situation is ended on an amicable, rather than uncomfortable note, though this isn’t always easy.
I believe, however, that our professors ask us as students to rise to a certain level of conduct, and it is our job as students to respect that, and to see adherence to the Honor Code as going hand-in-hand with not only respecting each other, but also respecting our professors.
Though it seems that the Honor Code has the most direct effect on students, I would like to ask everyone to consider what other consequences Honor Code violations may have on our community as a whole, and not just upon our classmates.
The passion that Lawrence University professors have for their fields of study and for working with students is a true asset to our education and speaks to the value of the unique professor-student relationship that exists here at Lawrence.
With the presence of the Honor Code, we are essentially handed the trust of our professors without having to work for it at all. We owe it to them and ourselves not to take this incredible privilege for granted, and not to ruin the network of trust that exists between faculty and students for the rest of our community.