Honor code would

In an attempt to curb student cheating, the University is considering adopting a student honor code. The system would require students to sign a statement of academic integrity when they enroll at the University. Many schools already use such a code, and report positive results. The system, which has existed at many smaller colleges for a long time, is gaining popularity with administrations at larger universities because of its success. While the honor code seems old-fashioned to some and even condescending to others, the possibility of decreasing student dishonesty at the University makes the code a worthwhile consideration.
Research indicates that honor codes seem to be successful. Sixty-eight percent of students on campuses without honor codes admitted cheating, according to a survey released by Don McCabe, founding president of the Center for Academic Integrity at Duke University. On those campuses with honor codes, 53 percent of students said they have cheated. Despite the sometimes severe punishments for cheating already in place, the honor code helps dissuade academic misconduct among a significant portion of students.
Critics raise the valid point that requiring students to sign an honor code might seem condescending to some. We already live under the jurisdiction of institutions, however; many require that we sign contracts, promising our allegiance to rules. These laws and contracts exist not to patronize those who already possess a strong sense of honor and ethics, but to change the course of action of those who do not. In the case of academic conduct, no student should believe that cheating is simply breaking a softer law, with less serious repercussions than the rules of the larger world. If signing a contract helps students at risk of cheating better understand the significance of their behavior, then the honor code accomplishes its goal.
The honor-code system, if implemented in a manner similar to other universities, could include a judicial process involving students. Enforcement of the honor code, at least at other schools, can resemble a court of law. A student honor council conducts hearings of students who allegedly cheated and recommends punishment depending on the seriousness of the cases. A system such as this could help students understand the implications of their actions and realize that the laws of the University are just as important as the laws of the larger community. Furthermore, it would give academic ethics a more prominent place in the culture of the University. In light of the many recent cases of cheating, any organization that stresses the importance of honesty could benefit the school.
The University has already written expectations for student behavior. An honor code simply requires that students acknowledge these expectations in the form of a contract. If the school implements the system, it will hopefully stress the importance of scholastic honesty at the University and maybe convince students that cheating is not a trite matter. If it is possible to stress academic integrity any more in academia, then it is a possibility worth considering.