Honor Code

“I have acted with honesty and integrity in producing this work and am unaware of anyone who has not.”

A long held tradition at Southwestern University is being true to oneself and others. Students established the Honor Code over a century ago to commit themselves to academic integrity and to hold each other accountable in their endeavors both inside and outside the classroom.

The bond of trust between students and their professors is an important attribute of life at Southwestern. Under the Honor Code, students complete daily assignments, write term papers, present projects, publish creative and informative work, take examinations without proctors, and have the freedom to leave the room at will during tests.

Students write and sign the Honor Pledge when completing every examination, paper, quiz, and other professor-designated assignments to reaffirm their commitment to honorable conduct.

To review the slides presented during FYS/AES Honor Code modules, click here.

  • Even before the Honor Code was formally established around 1907, students at Southwestern had long held each other to high standards. Unofficial honor codes were formed and maintained independently by many groups of students in literary societies and honor fraternities dating back as early as 1882.

    Today, the responsibility for maintaining the Honor Code continues to rest on every student. If a student notices another student engaged in dishonorable conduct, the student is expected to bring his or her concerns to the President of the Honor Code Council, a faculty member, or the Dean of Students.

    The Honor Code Council is a student/faculty body created to uphold the academic integrity of the campus community by examining instances of academic dishonesty and recommending the appropriate penalty for each situation

    The Honor Code consists of an Oath and a Pledge, a verbal Oath recited once at matriculation and a shorter pledge signed on each assignment. Students not only pledge to refrain from dishonorable activities, but also vow to be vigilant in maintaining the integrity of other students in the campus community.

    The Honor Oath taken during matriculation states: “As a student of Southwestern I hereby pledge my full support to the Honor Code. I pledge to be honest myself, and in order that the spirit and integrity of the Honor Code may endure, I pledge that I will make known to the Honor Code Council any case of academic dishonesty which I observe at Southwestern.”

    The Honor Pledge written and signed on all assignments reads: “I have acted with honesty and integrity in producing this work and am unaware of anyone who has not.”

    When doing work outside of class, students should continue to maintain a high regard for upholding the Honor Code and taking responsibility for their actions. Any assignment turned in, regardless of the assignment’s weight in the course, should be the student’s original work.

    Students are encouraged to discuss academic subjects outside of the classroom, but collaboration on assignments and papers should only occur if the instructor has specifically approved group work.

    If a student desires help with an individual assignment, the Debby Ellis Writing Center is staffed by trained students who can provide aid with planning, organization, grammar, and style without breaking the Honor Code. At the end of the assignment, students should note that they visited the Writing Center.

    When writing term papers or doing research for a project, proper citations should accompany any material taken from other sources. Neglecting to cite sources is an act of plagiarism and a violation of the Honor Code. When using direct quotes or paraphrasing the ideas of another author, citations should accompany the assignment to give credit where it is due.

    Formats for citing sources vary between departments and are often overseen by independent organizations dedicated to a specific academic field. Some citation systems like those maintained by the MLA, APA, and University of Chicago are used by multiple disciplines. Students should ask the professor what citation system will be used on an assignment.

    • During the regular semester, a hearing is typically scheduled within 14 days of the date the Dean of Students is notified of the alleged violation. This timeline could be extended due to University holidays, availability of parties involved for initial meetings and the hearing, or other extenuating circumstances. The Dean of Students will keep all parties informed of any deviations from the 14-day norm.

      The Respondent will know the finding of responsible or not responsible at the hearing.

      If found responsible, the Respondent will know the sanction(s) assigned within three business days of the hearing.

    • The Honor Code Council is composed of students and faculty who have a strong interest in promoting the University’s Honor Code. Student members of the Honor Code Council serve on hearing boards for alleged violations.

    • Applications for Honor Code Council membership are available every spring for the upcoming academic school year.

    • Common Honor Code violations include: plagiarism, giving answers to another student, accessing electronic devices while taking a test, and collaborating on independent assignments.

    • Student: As a student, you can report a violation to a professor, or testing proctor.

      Faculty: As a faculty member, you can report a violation to the Dean of Students.

    • Review the instructions for the assignment. Do not incorporate any work into your assignment that is not your own idea. Always cite your sources. Consult the syllabus pertaining to a particular assignment. Ask your professor if you are not sure.

      The Purdue plagiarism test can help you recognize and avoid plagiarism.

    • This chart helps explain the process. If the accusation is made by a faculty member, and the Respondent (alleged violator) has no previous academic dishonesty record, and the Respondent acknowledges responsibility, then a Non-Judicial Resolution between the faculty member and the student can ensue at the discretion of the faculty member. The faculty member must first notify the Honor Code Council President and the Dean of Students of the suspected violation and the proposed Non-Judicial Resolution and document the agreement; however, this will not become a part of the student’s formal record at the University. This Non-Judicial Resolution must be mutually agreeable, or the student has a right to request a hearing by the Honor Code Council Hearing Board. Each student is entitled to only one Non-Judicial Resolution while a student at Southwestern.

    • Students are responsible for being aware of and adhering to guidelines regarding academic honesty for each and every course. If in doubt, always err on the side of caution, and consult your faculty for clarification.

    • Faculty have full discretion to determine the optimal methods by which students will learn, and demonstrate that learning, in their courses. In one context, working with others may be a critical part of the learning process, while in another, it is important for a student to learn independently and without the input of peers. This is why it is important to ensure that you understand the parameters for each assignment before you begin it.

    • A Non-Judicial Resolution is an agreement between the faculty member and Respondent, when the Respondent admits responsibility, to remedy the violation. A hearing is a formal conference involving members of the Honor Code Council, Honor Code Council President, Dean of Students, faculty member and Respondent to determine whether or not a student is responsible for the violation.

    • Yes. The student has a right to request a hearing by the Honor Code Hearing Board.

    • There are two possible outcomes to a hearing: responsible or not responsible for violating the Honor Code.

      If responsible, sanctions range from a reduction in grade on the assignment to suspension or expulsion.

    • The Honor Code Council Hearing Board consists of six members (three students and three faculty). The six members of each Hearing Board are selected by the Dean of Students (or designee), after meeting with the Complainant and Respondent, and after each has been given the opportunity to dismiss prospective members with cause. The non-voting chair of the Hearing Board is the President of the Honor Code Council (or designee), and the student members are members of the Honor Code Council. The faculty members are chosen from all faculty.

    • The Respondent has the right to appeal the outcome of the hearing.

    • The appeals process is outlined in the student handbook.