By GRACE BALLENGER ’17
Throughout this week, the Honor Code Council (HCC) is hosting events to promote the honor code before finals and increase the visibility of the HCC on campus.
Lily Elsner ’14, chief justice of the HCC, explained that Honor Code Awareness Week was started to draw attention to the honor code prior to finals and help students incorporate the honor code into their daily lives.
“Whenever the honor code is discussed it’s either discussed in hushed tones, as being sort of a scary thing, or else it’s talked about as one of the really great parts of Wellesley. But it’s often difficult to put your finger on the fact that it is within your daily life, unless you’re involved in Honor Code Council,” Elsner said.
The events this week include a new campaign to place posters about the honor code’s aims in common spaces and public places. There will also be pop-up honor code book signings at various locations around campus to allow students to sign the honor code book, meet with members of the HCC and receive honor code-themed items, such as stickers. In addition, the HCC will promote two Twitter handles, @WellesleyHCC, which represents the Honor Code Council, and @TheHCCBook, which exists to promote the honor code book that students sign to show their allegiance to the honor code.
The HCC has also been collaborating with several other campus organizations to host events. APTs will host presentations to tell first years about test taking procedures and give them tips for finals. In a project with Boobtube, the HCC will walk through the process of an honor code hearing to demystify the process for students. El Table will feature “The Chef Justice,” an honor code-themed sandwich for the week. There will also be an honor code-themed pub night on Wednesday, Dec. 4 that will test people’s knowledge of the honor code.
Ultimately, Elsner hopes that the materials distributed during Honor Code Awareness Week and the connections that people form with HCC members during this time will allow the Wellesley community to better understand and remember the honor code.
The HCC purposely planned Honor Code Awareness Week during the period before finals. “I really want to make sure that we’re giving folks the chance to recall what they committed to so they can really optimize that fully,” Elsner said.
For the 2012-2013 academic year 47 charges were made against against 44 students. Of the cases that went to hearings, 23 were academic and 14 were non-academic. The most common academic charge was plagiarism and the most common non-academic charge was theft.
According to last year’s State of the Honor Code address, 43 charges were made in the 2011-2012 academic year, and 38 cases were heard. Of these cases 34 were classified as honor code violations, which included 23 academic cases and 11 non academic cases.
Sophia Vale ’17 noticed an event that the HCC was hosting to give information to first years about finals week, and approved of this event.
“I’ve only had one take-home quiz, but I think that it’s useful to have more information on what is open book, what is not, and what does the honor code mean, especially with finals coming up,” she said.
Overall, she believes that the honor code at Wellesley is already successful, and attributes some of the honor code’s success to the way in which is is administered.
“It’s not something that people follow because they’re worried about being policed or punished, but rather something that is accepted as part of being a Wellesley student,” Vale said.
Judy Zhang ’17 believes that the honor code is effective because of the morals that students already exhibit.
“I feel like a lot of students have a sense of morals and community, so I feel like that helps the honor code, but I also feel like the honor code also helps reinforce the idea of just being a good person,” Zhang said.
However, Zhang also said that she didn’t know if Honor Code Awareness Week would be effective because she didn’t know if students would go to events that aren’t mandatory.
Don Leach, honor code administrative coordinator, believes that the honor code is ultimately important because it sets a standard for students to follow.
“The honor code in some ways is Wellesley’s way of expecting the best from students, and it’s important to expect the best so that you can experience students at their best,” Leach said.
Elsner also noted that not only is the honor code an expectation for students, but it also emphasizes the values of the school.
“It is an opportunity for Wellesley to express its values and also to sort of define the community in a way, and once you have a defined community if people violate that, you sort of have a framework for bringing people back into the community,” Elsner said.
Other schools have honor codes or are considering establishing similar policies. In the fall of 2010, the Committee of Academic Integrity at Harvard University began a process of investigating academic honesty on campus, which discovered evidence that many students at Harvard were cheating. According to an article that appeared in The Harvard Crimson, the Committee began to create an honor code and judicial board for the University.
Like the Wellesley HCC, the Harvard student/faculty judicial board will work to give students a voice in academic dishonesty cases.
According to a report released by Harvard, the University intends for the honor code to “signal to students that Harvard values learning, intellectual inquiry, and intellectual exploration more than it values the external trappings of ‘success.’”
Grace Ballenger is a first year from Holliston Massachusetts.