Cracking down on cheating: Honor committee creates new policies for students

Although+copying+homework+is+defined+as+cheating+under+the+honor+code%2C+students+continue+to+copy.++Some+have+already+received+a+first+offense.++Photo+by+Lauren+Keller.+

Although copying homework is defined as cheating under the honor code, students continue to copy. Some have already received a first offense. Photo by Lauren Keller.

When the beginning of the school year arrived, the student body was introduced to some changes around the building that ranged from new faculty and administration members to the new lunch policy and the new honor code.  In the school planner, students may have noticed the full page dedicated to outlining the school’s policy on cheating and plagiarism, because the administration is more serious about enforcing it than they have been in years past.

One element of the honor code is the addition of student input. To make sure they were able to receive opinions from those who would be subjected to the policy, the administration invited a few members of Student Council to provide input on the subject.

“Our role was to work with the administration in creating something that was fair to students and gave students a perspective,” Jane Brown*, who was involved in the creation of the honor code, said. “A teacher might have said, ‘I really think we should do this, we see this happen all the time,’ and we were there to help determine which ideas would be effective for students. We were there to give a student’s perspective on it.”

Despite having fellow students play a part in creating it, there have still been complaints from students about the honor code being unfair or too vague.

“The reason the honor code is not super specific is because it’s such a case by case situation. If someone lets someone else copy off them and they both get caught, they both have to go through the process stated in the honor code.  However, you don’t want to ruin this kid’s life just because he let someone copy off him one time, and so each kid has to go meet with Mrs. Adams [the assistant principal of curriculum and instructions] and the honor committee will assess the situation and decide on a suitable course of action for this situation,” John Smith*, who was also involved in the creation, said. Adams was unavaliabe to comment.

While some people have commented that they feel that the academic probation consequence is too severe and unfair, the committee has stated that it feels it is an appropriate punishment for dishonest behavior.

“I think it’s a really interesting policy and that it is really important that people know that what they do outside of school can be affected by cheating and plagiarism,” Brown* said. “The bigger deal is that students will complain and not like the idea that a lot people aren’t going to get caught. If you do get caught, your membership to Honor Societies may be revoked, while some of your friends may also have cheated, not gotten caught, and are still active members in said Honor Society.  That’s where it gets a little shaky in the students’ eyes.  However, we feel that it’s a fair consequence for this type of behavior.”

Through the complaints, confusion and skepticism surrounding the policy, the faculty, administration and students who were involved in the creation remain positive about its purpose, reception and effectiveness.

“I don’t think this is going to be some sort of revolutionary idea to stop all cheating.  I don’t think anyone thinks that,” Smith* said. “It’s just a new tactic to encourage kids to not cheat. The goal is to not be punitive.  Kids cheat, not because they want to do something that they know is wrong, but they just need to get this homework done. We addressed that. We know that it’s not going to be an easy thing to just stop cheating. Kids will either stop or they’ll just get better at it. That’s the risk that you run with any sort of cheating policy.”

To ensure that students are well-informed of the new policy, read the full version online. The honor code written in the planners is an abridged version.

*Actual students names have been changed to keep their involvement in the honor code private.

– Kendall Avenia