April 19, 2006
The Honor Code
The Honor Code is taken very seriously in American Universities. In traditional "honor code schools", there are honor pledges, student-organized honor systems, unproctored exams, and the requirement to turn in suspected cheating incidents. Some schools do not have a traditional honor code, but they usually have a set of rules or some writing that articulates the fundamental rights and responsibilities of all students. However, this code may not be universal because I am aware that there are Universities across the world that do not hold their students accountable for honoring this code.
Professors in traditional "honor code schools' such as Princeton hand out a Final Exam and leave the room. Students are then expected to take the assigned time and then hand in their papers to the Prof in his office. There have been times when Profs allow you to select a date and time when you want to take the exam. On the date and time you select, the Prof gives you the exam and you can choose to do your exam at a location of choice. Absurd as all of this may sound (to some), the Honor Code works!
There have been some stray cases where students have tried to either test the code or else disregarded it for whatever reason, and the consequences have been predictably disastrous. Once a student pleads guilty, he usually receives a suspension from the university and community service hours. The harshness of the punishment would depend on the severity of the violation, the previous credibility of the accused student, and whether the act was premeditated. A blatant violation of this code could make for an immediate expulsion, and would show up as a permanent record on your academic credentials.
In a world that is often accused of being morally defunct, the Honor Code and its observance reasserts my faith in the integrity of human kind.