THE HONOR SYSTEM
and faculty. According to an e-mail survey
conducted last year by Leslie Cooley '01
as a part of her senior honors thesis, 91
percent ofstudents and 58 percent of fac-
ulty who responded said they had average
or below average understanding of the
honor system. At a forum in February to
discuss the honor code, not a single "reg-
ular" student showed up - all 60-plus
people were involved in the system in
some way. Only a handfill ofstudents
attended a second forum.
"A lot of students and a lot offaculty
members are either unaware of[the honor
system] or don't buy into it," said Tom
Bowers, senior associate dean of the School
of Journalism and Mass Communication
and a longtime member ofthe Committee
on Student Conduct, which oversees
administration of and changes to the code.
The only concentrated exposure to the
code is at freshman orientation, where
many issues are covered. "Is it something
that pops up on the radar of what's impor-
tant?" Bowers said. "Probably not."
How many honor codes?
The lack ofsupport and understand-
ing from faculty is not only a problem for
faculty members; it can translate into con-
fusion for their students. Definitions of
cheating vary among departments. Professors are supposed to explain the honor
code to each group ofstudents and lay
out class policies about what is considered
"It's very important that ground rules
be spelled out very carefully," Solloway said.
But that does not seem to happen. As a
former department chair, Solloway has
reviewed coundess syllabi over the years.
Some do an excellent job explaining stu-
dent responsibilities, he said. Others do not.
Students also notice the inconsisten-
cies. "There are hugely different levels of
emphasis [on the honor code in classes],"
said Nora Wilson '01. "Some classes have
a lot ofgroup work and never really say
anything about it, and so you never really
know what is cheating and what isn't.
Other classes don't have any group work,
and there will be a statement about the
S ept elllb er/ O cto b er 2 001
honor code in the syllabus."
When explanations are absent, students are left in the dark, even if they
have the best intentions. Craig Hoovler, a
sophomore studying applied sciences, said
he had a friend who was having trouble
with her first-year science lab but wouldn't accept his help because she thought it
would be an honor code violation.
Other students interviewed also said
dley wished professors would clarif Y their
policies. "I always worry about papers. 1
never know exacdy what to cite, and 1
think a lot ofpeople have trouble with
that," said Abby Karesh, a senior majoring
in education. "And there's an obvious dif-
ference between not quite knowing how to
do a paper like that and blatandy cheating."
Group work is another gray area, she
continued. "With a test, you know not to
bring in a cheat sheet. But a lot of group
projects and stuff where they say you can
work with other people but your answers
have to be your own, and things like that,
it's really hard to know where the line is."
Group projects were a source of concern for Ann Spencer '01. As a
biostatis-tics major, she took many classes that
required such work. "They say that col-
laboration is OK, but then they back up