I Hereby Reaffirm: an Honor Code for the world-kh tm ehh

Alan Duff

I love news in the modern era, but I question the priorities. We are told what the weather will be like for the next week, we know when a disaster occurs anywhere in the world within a day — and we know within minutes if a celebrity moves from one building to the next with a new dress. Something seems very wrong there.

Right now that’s how I feel about the Republican primaries, and I’m sure they’ve been talked to death, every inch of dirt and unnecessary fact about every candidate out in the open.

But instead, I’m going to talk about something positive, which is the most underrepresented topic in media for some reason, but something all politicians could use a little education in.

The Lawrence University Honor Code is something that on surface seems well-intentioned. Lawrence has as a policy meant to require students in all fields write out “IHRTLUHC” on exams and assignments, followed by their signed affirmation. But its implications and benefits for both faculty and students are much more than some good feelings.

When I first came here, the Honor Code seemed like an inconvenience. Of course I wasn’t going to cheat, so why we needed to state we didn’t cheat on all of our assignments was beyond me, and it seemed like nothing more than posturing with no benefit.

Since then, my ideas about the Honor Code’s purpose have changed. Most universities have an Honor Code of one sort or another, but Lawrence takes it a step further when it insists on our commitment to it.

Once students fully understand the Honor Code, and it becomes part of the academic life, the benefits are innumerable. At other colleges and universities, the trust we experience at Lawrence is unheard of. That is a very valuable thing.

At other universities, simple things like students taking notes with laptops are frowned on because students can’t be trusted to take notes in class instead of browsing the Internet. Taking tests in a room when the professor is absent and the TA’s aren’t circling would never be allowed.

You can also forget about take home exams. On top of that, there is level of trust between students at the university. No student is going to be backstabbing their classmates to sabotage someone’s GPA at Lawrence. That’s amazing.

When I talk with friends from other universities, the level of trust at Lawrence puzzles them, while their college’s lack of the same trust puzzles me. I no longer think about it. When I ask if their university has an Honor Code they often respond with a “yes,” but it isn’t something they think about or are exposed to. That is the difference that Lawrence’s Honor Code creates with its atmosphere of trust.

Hearing about the experiences of students from other colleges makes me truly appreciate the trust students enjoy from professors. If there’s one thing I would hope that all Lawrentians will take from their time from Lawrence — besides a liberal arts education of course — it would be the ideals that the Honor Code instills in them, especially in our world today.

With the news always filled with political and business scandals, underhanded deals and tax fraud, I think that the entire world could use an Honor Code of their own that they would have to reaffirm before and after a day’s work. Maybe then we wouldn’t have so much bad news.

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