These frequently asked questions will highlight aspects of how the Honor System works and the role of students in upholding it.
Where can one find complete information about the Honor Code?
The full text of the Honor Code and revised Honor System Charter can be found on the Honor Committee's website Honor System Complaint Filing Form.
What is the Honor Pledge and what does it mean?
The Honor Pledge is a statement students are required to write and sign at the end of each academic exercise submitted for credit (papers, exams, quizzes, etc.). The pledge is: "I have adhered to the Honor Code in this assignment." The default assumption for this statement is that the student is required to do his or her own work without help from others not explicitly authorized by the instructor.
Who is responsible for implementing the honor system?
All members of the Oberlin College community have a responsibility to educate themselves and others regarding the provisions of the Honor System and to create a campus atmosphere where academic honesty provides a foundation for intellectual freedom and growth. Faculty, staff, and students alike need to understand the value of the Honor System, and how it works, both generally and in specific instances.
The Student Honor Committee oversees the Honor System, with the support of the Faculty Honor System Committee and the Honor System Liaison. The Student Honor Committee hears cases involving allegations of students violating the Honor Code.
What specific responsibilities do students have for understanding the honor system?
At the start of each semester, students should read their syllabi carefully to understand how the Honor Code applies generally in each course. It is also incumbent on students to ask questions of the instructors when it is unclear precisely how the Honor Code applies to specific assignments.
Students should keep the following thing in mind regarding the Honor Code and course assignments:
- Instructors typically include a statement on their syllabi that explains how the Honor Code applies to specific assignments and where and under what circumstances collaboration is permitted.
- Professors do not proctor (monitor) exams and quizzes, because it is understood that students are on their honor to do their own work.
- If it is not explained on a syllabus, ask how the Honor Code applies to any take-home or out-of-class exams (time limits, open vs. closed book, what notes and other materials can be used, etc.)
- If unsure about how to cite information appropriately, ask the course instructor to recommend an appropriate documentation guide. (Several style manuals are listed in the Honor System Charter.)
- Be aware that when faculty suspect plagiarism, they can use the internet to help identify the sources of intellectual property they suspect have been used or cited inappropriately.
What kinds of violations can be brought to the attention of the Student Honor Committee?
The Honor System Charter offers specific definitions of "cheating," "plagiarism," "fabrication," "multiple submissions," and of other acts that constitute Honor Code violations, such as falsification or forging of documents; or the destruction, hiding, or removal of library materials with the intent of denying access of those materials to others. The revised charter includes co-curricular work and exercises, as well as documents that affect the educational experience.
Who is responsible for reporting alleged violations and how is this done?
Any Oberlin College student—including the student who has violated the Honor Code—faculty member, or staff person witnessing an alleged violation of the Honor Code should report it to the Student Honor Committee. Reports should be submitted using the Honor System Complaint Filing Form .
Is my suspicion of another student, necessarily equated to "guilt"?
Suspicion is not directly equated to a responsible finding as the Student Honor Committee investigates, has a hearing, and deliberates over each report. If a student suspects that they have observed an Honor Code violation, but does not wish to go directly to the Student Honor Committee (SHC), that student may report it to the instructor who will then report the incident to the Student Honor Committee. If the student wishes to report the matter to the SHC directly, the student may submit it by completing this form Honor System Complaint Filing Form
What happens if a student is reported to the Student Honor committee for an alleged violation?
After an alleged violation is reported, the Student Honor Committee appoints case managers to investigate the allegation. The case managers will arrange to conduct interviews with the respondent, the complainant, and any witnesses to gather relevant information. After the investigation is complete, a hearing is scheduled to determine whether the respondent is in violation of the Honor Code. Failure to respond to the Student Honor Committee may result in a failure to comply charge filed through the Student Conduct system System.
What happens if a student is found in violation of the Honor Code?
Typically, if a student is found responsible for an Honor Code Violation, they will receive sanctions. Those sanctions include a status sanction (meant to indicate a student's standing within the honor system), restorative sanctions (meant to address any harm caused by the incident), and educational sanctions (meant to prevent future occurrences of the incident). Status sanctions (from least severe to most) are A) an honor warning, B) an honor probation, C) a suspension, D) a dismissal. Restorative sanctions include, but are not limited to, letters of apology or intentional conversations regarding the incident. Educational sanctions include, but are not limited to, an online academic integrity workshop, a post-hearing meeting with the honor system liaison, or reflective papers. These outcomes are mandatory for students to complete.
When a student is found in violation of the Honor Code, will the student automatically fail the assignment and or course in question?
No. Faculty members evaluate assignments independently of the Honor Committee's decision. A student may be found in violation of the Honor Code, but still earn a passing grade on the assignment and in the class in question.
How long does it take to resolve a case?
Depending on the time of the semester or academic year that a case is reported, the complexity of the case, the number and availability of the people involved, and the caseload for SHC, cases may take up to a semester to be resolved. It is the aim of the SHC to handle cases as expeditiously as possible. If a professor requests the informal resolution option and the option is granted by the Student Honor Committee, the time required to resolve the case is likely to be shorter than typical.