Constitution of the Honor System
Adopted by the Undergraduates in 1893. Amended in 2010.
- There shall be a committee consisting of twelve members who shall represent the student body and deal with all cases involving suspected violations of the honor system.
- The members of this committee shall be the presidents of the first-year, sophomore, and junior classes, former class presidents, and members to be appointed by the committee from the student body at large until the committee consists of twelve members.
- Every academic year a subcommittee composed of the senior class members of the Honor Committee and the Undergraduate Student Government President shall convene after the first of April to select a sophomore member of the committee to serve as clerk for the committee during the upcoming academic year. This subcommittee will interview all interested sophomore members of the committee and shall appoint one sophomore by a unanimous vote to serve as the clerk of the Honor Committee for the upcoming academic year. This sophomore member will automatically become a member of the committee the following year.
- The president of the junior class and the former sophomore class president will normally serve until the end of their junior year and will automatically become members of the committee at the beginning of their senior year.
- The member of the committee who serves as clerk junior year will become chair of the committee during his or her senior year. In the event that this person withdraws from the University, or is otherwise unable to serve as chair of the committee, the member of the committee who is in the senior class and served as his or her junior class president will become the chair of the Honor Committee.
- The newly elected sophomore and junior class presidents will normally become members of the committee at the beginning of the fall term following their election, but, if needed, can serve on the committee immediately after their election. The first-year class president will serve immediately following his or her election.
- Following spring elections, the Honor Committee will solicit applications from the student body at large for the remaining positions on the committee. Appointed members shall serve one-year terms, but may seek reappointment thereafter. Committee members seeking reappointment shall not participate in the selection process. All appointments are subject to approval by the Undergraduate Student Government.
- The committee may dismiss a member for neglect of duty. A vote of nine of the eleven other members would be required for such a dismissal.
- If any member shall for any reason become unable to serve or be dismissed, a new member shall be appointed by the Honor Committee subject to approval by the Undergraduate Student Government.
- If action of the committee becomes necessary before the selection of this new member or before the fall election of the first-year class president, the members of the committee at that time shall constitute a temporary committee for the particular case with the same regulations of power, procedure, and penalties as adopted in this constitution.
- The committee shall have power to summon the student or students in question, witness or witnesses, documents, and articles of material evidence, and to seek to obtain any information bearing on the accusation. Only the seven voting members of the committee who participate in the hearing shall meet to determine whether the student or students in question be guilty or not guilty of violating the honor system.
- Following the conviction of a student, the voting members of the committee who determined guilt shall meet to determine the penalty. A decision on the penalty shall require a majority vote. The convicted person or persons may not attend this meeting. The committee shall assign a penalty and report it to the Dean of Undergraduate Students. The penalty shall take effect upon imposition by the Dean of Undergraduate Students.
- Under normal circumstances, individuals convicted of cheating shall be subject to the following penalties in accordance with Rights, Rules, Responsibilities: The first offense will result in a penalty of suspension for one year or, if perjury occurs, suspension for two or three years. The second offense will result in expulsion from the University. In the absence of perjury, the committee shall also have recourse to suspension for two or three years. In all cases, the committee may exercise the option of suspension with conditions and/or censure. When there are extenuating circumstances, the first offense may result in a penalty of probation. Extenuating circumstances include, but are not limited to, instances in which the committee fails to conclude that a student should reasonably have understood that his or her actions were in violation of the honor code. Under this probation, a second violation of the honor code will result in suspension or expulsion.
- Under normal circumstances, when a violation requiring suspension occurs during the fall term, the convicted person or persons shall not be eligible to return until the following fall term. When a violation requiring suspension occurs during the spring term, the convicted person or persons shall not be eligible to return until the following spring term. If a senior is involved in a violation during the spring term, the student’s degree may be withheld until the spring of the following year. Only the Dean of the College may review the final penalty. An appeal of the decision of the Honor Committee should be directed to the Dean of the College. Such appeals can only be made on the grounds of procedural unfairness or harmful bias. The penalty levied by the Honor Committee may not be increased upon appeal. If the Dean of the College determines that a penalty of the Honor Committee should be reduced, the Dean will make a recommendation to the President, describing the reasons for the proposed modification, and the President will decide whether or not to implement the recommendation.
- Under extreme, exceptional circumstances, the committee may allow a student to complete the term in which the violation occurred and be removed from the University for the following two semesters. In such cases the Honor Committee would recommend that the student receive a failing grade in the course in which the violation occurred.
- The place and time of all hearings shall be determined by the chair of the committee.
- The hearing shall be conducted in the following manner with the chair presiding. The reporting witness will first report his or her suspicion to the committee. Additional witnesses may also appear before the committee. The student in question will then be heard and given the opportunity to present evidence and witnesses. Members of the committee may ask questions at any point, seek additional materials or testimony, visit any relevant location, recall or review evidence or testimony provided earlier, and in general seek to obtain any information bearing on the accusation. Investigators will have an opportunity to contribute information pertaining to the investigation following each witnesses’ testimony. At the conclusion of all testimony, the investigators may, with the peer representative present, present a summary of the case. The committee will deliberate in private, and a determination that the honor code has been violated shall require the presence of overwhelmingly convincing evidence. Documented evidence and plausibility of method, in the absence of demonstrated intent, may be enough to convict.
- On a rotating basis, the chair shall appoint two members of the committee to conduct a preliminary investigation. After conducting this preliminary investigation, the two investigators in consultation with the chair shall determine whether or not a hearing is warranted. If a hearing is not warranted, all records of the case shall be immediately destroyed. If a hearing is warranted, the student in question is urged to choose a peer representative. Only a current undergraduate member of the University community may serve as the peer representative. The peer representative may present a summary of the case prior to the committee’s deliberations. The investigators will, at the conclusion of the hearing, write a casebook summary and/or the summary directed to the Dean of Undergraduate Students.
- The chair will preside over each case and will select six available members to hear each case. The number of votes necessary for conviction shall be as follows: six of seven, or seven of seven.
- All evidence shall be procured in every case, and in no event shall a student be tried a second time for the same offense, except in light of new and important evidence to be determined by a majority vote of the committee. The testimony of one individual by itself shall not be sufficient to warrant another hearing.
- The student in question shall learn of the charges brought against him or her through a letter, which need not be signed, written in some reasonable detail by the witness who reported the suspected violation. The investigators shall explain the charges and enumerate the rights of the student in question as hereinafter provided in Article IV, Section 7. The student in question shall be asked to sign a statement prior to a hearing saying he or she has been informed of his or her rights under the honor constitution. Upon receipt of the letter of accusation, the student may exercise his or her right of up to seven days of preparation for the Honor Committee hearing.
- The rights of the student in question shall include:
- a) The right to have a witness present during the initial interview with investigators;
- b) the right to review in advance all documents constituting direct material evidence;
- c) the right to call witnesses;
- d) the right to have a representative from the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students serve as a procedural advisor prior to the hearing to advise the student in question of matters concerning Honor Committee procedures.
- e) the right to choose a current undergraduate member of the University community to serve as a peer representative to speak on the behalf of the student in question and to question all witnesses. The student in question may not serve as his or her own peer representative.
- f) the right, in the event of a conviction, to receive a copy of a summary statement of the grounds for the committee’s decision, and to poll the votes of the individual committee members. This summary statement must outline the charge made against the student, describe the evidence and testimony provided in support of this charge, and provide the rationale for the committee’s finding, both in terms of verdict and punishment assigned.
- g) the right, in the event of a conviction, to receive a record of the hearing.
- It is incumbent upon the Honor Committee members to investigate all possible connections between the student in question and all witnesses, and any potential ulterior motives involved in the case, while protecting the confidentiality of all parties involved.
- All those involved in the investigation and hearing process are expected to maintain the confidentiality of all persons involved in the case.
- Violations of the honor system shall consist of any attempt to receive assistance from written or printed aids, or from any person or papers, or of any attempt to give assistance, whether the one so doing has completed his or her own work or not. This rule holds both inside and outside of the examination room. Other violations include, but are not limited to, any attempt to gain an unfair advantage in regard to an examination, such as tampering with a graded exam or claiming another’s work to be one’s own.
- Violations shall also consist of obtaining or attempting to obtain, previous to any examinations, copies of the examination papers or the questions to appear thereon, or to obtain any illegal knowledge of these questions.
- Termed perjury, lying before the committee or purposely misleading the committee shall also constitute a violation of the honor code.
- Any undergraduate not signing the pledge placed upon the examination paper will be notified by the instructor holding the examination, and, if unable then to sign, he or she will be reported to the committee for investigation. Inability to sign the pledge to an examination paper upon notification by the instructor or by the committee shall be prima facie evidence of violation of the honor system.
- The pledge is as follows: “I pledge my honor that I have not violated the honor code during this examination.” This must at all times be written in full and signed by the student.
- Every student is obligated to report to the Honor Committee any suspected violation of the honor code that he or she has observed.
- The committee may use recording devices to record the proceedings of each case.
- The committee will keep a written record of all cases acted upon. These records, together with the constitution, shall be preserved by the chair of the committee each year, for the instruction of the committee. In the case of an acquittal, all record of a person’s involvement is destroyed.
- The constitution may be amended (a) upon the initiative of ten of the twelve members of the committee, followed by a three-fourths vote of the Undergraduate Student Government members present at a meeting of the Undergraduate Student Government; or (b) upon the initiative by petition of 200 members of the undergraduate body, followed by a three-fourths vote in a student referendum as conducted by the Elections Committee of the Undergraduate Student Government. Article VII can be amended only by a student referendum.
- The constitution shall be published during the first week of each college year. It shall also be printed in Rights, Rules, Responsibilities, copies of which shall be issued to all students upon matriculation at the University, as well as to members of the teaching staff. Article V of this constitution shall be published immediately before midterm and final examinations begin.