We want to thank Bill Dalsen for raising the questions of the Honor Council published in the January 21st edition of the ******Lawrentian********. We wish to take this opportunity to educate the Lawrence community about certain aspects of the Honor Code that may be unclear. It is important to recognize that the Honor System exists to help maintain the atmosphere of mutual trust and confidence among students and faculty and to ensure that each student is judged solely according to his or her own merits.
The Honor Code states that 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. This prohibits students from, among other things, cheating on exams, plagiarizing papers, and collaborating when it is prohibited. It also prohibits unfairly affecting other students’ grades. For example, assisting others in cheating dilutes other students’ grades, and thus is a violation of the Honor Code. Ultimately, a violation of the Code is a violation of the trust between students and faculty. Assisting someone in cheating is still a violation of this trust and a violation of the Honor Code, whether or not it advances one’s own academic performance.
The Honor Council draws on its precedents to inform its decision-making. The Council uses a list of all the sanctions given in the last 8 years to guide its decision-making when determining a violation and a sanction. Because the Honor Council has a great deal of turnover every year, there’s a need for continuity. The precedents ensure consistency between Councils. These decisions are made available to the Lawrence community through the ********Lawrentian******** once a term and through the Honor Council website. While the precedents inform our decision-making as much as possible, each case is unique and the Council is not ultimately bound by the precedents.
Some members of the Lawrence community misunderstand the role of intent in the Honor Council judicial process. This is partially due to outdated pamphlets circulating around campus. As the Honor Charter, the Honor Council’s website, and the Honor Code state, the Honor Council does not consider intent when a student unfairly advances his or her own academic performance. For example, in cases of plagiarism, we do not consider whether a student intentionally lifted material from another work, or quoted without citation **********– only whether the student would have received credit for work that was not theirs. This is a practical policy; we can only judge based on what is actually on the printed page, not what is in the student’s mind. If students are worried about unintentionally violating the Honor Code, they are encouraged to get clarification from their professors or a member of the Honor Council.
Although our policies are based on the Honor Code charter, and our decisions based on precedents and practicality, the Honor System is at root about academic integrity at Lawrence. Violating the Code is not just a violation of the body of rules, but also a violation of a greater spirit of honesty and trust. That is the fundamental base that the Honor System rests on.
In order to properly serve the community, we need to have continuous feedback from students, faculty and administration. One way that we get this feed back is through periodic surveys in the Lawrence community. Please let us know what you think by participating in the current survey, a link to which you should have received in an email. It can be found at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.asp?u=33945827332 Please don’t hesitate to contact any of us with your questions and comments. Sincerely,
The Honor Council: