a perpetual work in progress
Is there any honor left at Stevens?
Posted: 2005-02-11 00:00
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Author: Phil Gengler
Section: The Stute

One of the selling points of Stevens is its honor code. The idea is that the faculty and administration trust students not to cheat or break the rules. Naturally, this can only work when the students do not abuse that trust.

Quoted in an article last week, David Sheridan, Assistant Vice President for Student Services, commented that he was "troubled" that students here, under the Stevens honor code, would knowingly and willingly distribute sensitive information about other students. We should all take a long, hard look and ask ourselves, is the honor system dead?

I commented on this issue last semester, when I said that "What this all boils down to is that Stevens does not trust its students. The honor system, despite the apparent trust it puts in students, in reality has quite the opposite effect."

What we are seeing more and more is that perhaps Stevens students do not deserve the trust that is put in us. I am sure that at one time or another, every one of us has seen (or has been) someone cheating on a homework assignment, whether it is by working on it with someone else, or looking for a solution to the same problem online.

There a myriad of ways a student can cheat; in most cases, they get away with it, either because the grader does not notice, or does not care. This emboldens students to continue doing that, and they will likely continue to get away with it.

Of course, the easiest response to the problem is to say that students who cheat are "only hurting themselves." This is true, to some extent; yes, cheating students are not really learning the material, and so they hurt themselves for that particular course, but what about in the "real world?"

There are many stories about how things are cutthroat in some jobs. In order to advance, employees are practically required to cheat or steal, often at the expense of others. Employees with "too much" honor end up being the ones left behind.

This is certainly not representative of all jobs. There are probably many jobs where honesty is rewarded and cheating punished, depending on the industry.

Once again, I issue a challenge, this time to students; live up to the trust that has been placed in us. If we cannot do this, then we have no business working under an honor code that is flouted at every turn.


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