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Wednesday, December 4, 2002
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Honor code is needed to increase students’ integrity
Jose Luis Hernandez

Last week, the House of Student Representatives agreed on a resolution to establish a campus-wide task force dedicated to the promotion of academic integrity and the development of a student-initiated honor code. Also, a consensus was reached with regards to the establishment of an honor agreement.

The proposed honor agreement reads, “We pledge ourselves to the continuous pursuit of personal and academic integrity through honesty, trust, responsibility and courage.”

By approving the resolution, members of the House of Student Representatives became the first students here to formally accept the new honor agreement. This action constituted a formal commitment by TCU students to academic integrity.

The question is, why do we need a formal statement or perhaps an honor code to remind us that academic honesty is expected? The truth of the matter is, many of us still take academic integrity very frivolously. The statistics are alarming.

According to a nation-wide survey conducted by Duke University’s Center for Academic Integrity, 41 percent of college students admitted to plagiarism on written assignments, and 30 percent said they cheated during tests. It is true that academic competition at any respected university is extraordinary, but I still believe there are methods other than academic dishonesty to achieve our academic goals.

I strongly agree with the recently proposed honor agreement. It serves beneficial purposes. First of all, it reminds us of the university’s expectations and our responsibilities as students regarding academic integrity. The honor agreement calls for TCU students to uphold four fundamental values: honesty, trust, responsibility and courage.

Honesty begins with ourselves. It is our responsibility to be honest with our professors and classmates. According Princeton University’s Rights and Rules, “Observing basic honesty in one’s words, ideas and actions is a principle to which all members of the community are required to subscribe.” When we observe this “basic honesty” in our work, we begin to build trust among ourselves.

I truly believe trust is essential in our quest for knowledge and the determination of our academic goals. Having an honor code does not mean that a university or any given institution is suspicious of academic dishonesty. On the contrary, it means that the institution has agreed to give the student total freedom to do as he or she ought to regarding academic integrity. As a result, the level of trust increases and the university gains prestige in that it shows the community that academic and personal integrity is at a high level.

It is our responsibility to establish an atmosphere of trust here at TCU. It is our duty to uphold academic integrity. According to the CAI, “Being responsible means taking action against wrong doing despite peer pressure, fear, loyalty or compassion.” That, my friends, is courage.

We now have an honor agreement. This new honor agreement sets the standard for the creation of a student initiated honor code. The student initiated effort has begun. I hope that the administration will support the proposed honor agreement and the efforts of students in the pursuit of developing ways to promote academic integrity at TCU. It is up to all of us to make a difference. It is our responsibility to act.

Guest columnist Jose Luis Hernandez is a student representative and freshman music major from Reynosa, Mexico.


TCU Daily Skiff © 2003

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