A History of Honor

The Honor Code is more than a tradition at Randolph, it's a way of life.

The Honor Code is more than a tradition at Randolph, it’s a way of life.

During a recent visit to talk about his research on academic integrity, author and nationally known expert received a firsthand view of an intangible, but important, part of life at Randolph—its Honor Code. During a campus tour, Karl Sakas ’10, an admissions counselor, asked students to tell Anderman about the Honor Code.

“What struck me was that everybody was aware of it,” Anderman said, doubting that most students at Ohio State University, where he teaches psychology, could say much about their academic honesty guidelines. “Honor codes communicate core values to students about the institutions, but in some institutions, some people are not aware of them.”

Randolph’s Honor Code, which is administered by students rather than faculty, has been a vital part of life since the College’s founding in 1891. Anderman said this type of Honor Code, which includes unproctored exams, is an effective way of preventing cheating because it helps create a culture of trust. Randolph students say it is important because of the attributes it helps them develop.

“The more I work with it, the more I see it become a code of living,” said Maddy Carmain ’13, chair of the Student Judiciary Committee last year. “You uphold the Honor Code because it’s the right thing to do, not just because you are told to do it. Following the Honor Code requires a lot of personal integrity and responsibility.”

“I would like it to be celebrated, so that it is known that at this school,
we live this way.” – Maddy Carmain ’13

The Honor Code is so much a part of Randolph’s culture that Megan Hageman ’13 was shocked to learn about widespread cheating at the colleges her high school friends attended. That led her to collaborate with psychology professors Holly Tatum and Beth Schwartz, the Catherine E. & William E. Thoresen Chair in Social Sciences and assistant dean of the College, to study how honor systems affect academic honesty.

Their studies indicated that students at small colleges are less likely to cheat due to the close student-faculty relationships and open discussions about cheating. “This tends to be part of the culture of the institution,” Tatum said. “Our Honor Code is educational.”

Two years ago, the College convened a task force to look for opportunities to reaffirm Randolph’s commitment to its Honor Code. At the recommendation of that task force, the Student Judiciary Committee has sponsored Honor Weeks to encourage students to more fully understand the Honor Code.

Carmain hopes these efforts will help students place an even greater value on the Honor Code and carry its ideals into life after graduation. “I would like it to be celebrated, so that it is known that at this school, we live this way,” Carmain said. “The point is not getting people in trouble. The point is not the judicial process. The point is to live honorably, with integrity, and with respect for other people.”