“I have neither given nor received aid on this examination nor have I seen anyone else do so.”
Sound familiar? It should because that is what we are told, if not required, to put on every test, major paper, research project, quiz and homework assignment that we turn in. Some professors are somewhat relaxed about the enforcement of the Honor Code while others are quite strict and expect those words, verbatim, to show up on everything turned into them.
Since I have been at Southwestern, I have had an on-going inner conflict with the Honor Code. On one hand, I think putting the Honor Pledge on my paper signifies my honesty and dignity for work I put time and energy into. On the other hand, I think there is incorrect, irrelevant and outdated language within it.
For example, not everything we turn in is an “examination” by definition. We turn in homework, research papers, essays and assignments not constituted as exams. That has always been a confusion of mine when writing the pledge on various assignments – this is not an exam and yet I am writing the pledge as if it was?
And, what about the words “neither given nor received aid?” Technically, at least in my book, “giving and receiving aid” can take on multiple definitions and usages. For example, should I write that particular part of the pledge if I went to the writing center for a paper I was working on? I did, after all, receive some sort of “aid” from them….right?
Furthermore, what if I gathered opinions/feedback from a friend on an essay or homework assignment, having them read over and through it for coherency sake? They are aiding me and if I do the same for them I am aiding them as well. So, what category would these actions fall under within the code? In other words, am I lying to the professor when I write the pledge and did, in fact, receive feedback/suggestions from friends and/or the writing center?
It is a confusing, blurry line and I feel I may not be the only one experiencing the confusion. After all, the university is developing and possibly implementing changes towards the Honor Code which, I believe, is due to students/faculty who feel it should be changed to better define what exactly it is we are “staying true to.”
Now, for the last part of the Honor Pledge: “nor have I seen anyone else so.” A good majority of students I have spoken to at Southwestern have claimed they do not want to “rat” out their fellow students because they feel it is not their place to do so.
Should the administration, taken those opinions and feelings of students, punish them for not notifying authority figures when they do see someone breach the Honor Code?
Moreover, should we actually feel guilty if we see someone cheat and decide not to tell? Personally, I do not think it fair to those who feel it is not their place. I have not seen anyone violate the Honor Code, but if I did, I am not entirely sure I would feel comfortable getting them into trouble. Again, I simply do not feel it is my place. Yes, I have dignity and integrity, but I do not have adequate prying skills, nor do I wish to.
I am not writing this piece to completely destroy the Honor Code and everything it has helped set in place. Quite the contrary, in fact. I think it is a nice start and we are on the right track because I do believe it keeps students honest.
We just need to change the wording on it so there are no skewed lines or confusion as to what one is announcing to their professors by copying down this code. Again, we are on the right track, just not quite there yet.