In the past months, the Student Government Association has been working with an honor code task force to formulate a specialized TCU honor code. This is not the first time an effort of this sort has been made: three years ago, SGA created the Integrity Council to serve the same purpose, but unfortunately, its efforts and those that came after it were unsuccessful.In an Oct. 13 Skiff article, task force Chairwoman Ambika Sharma claimed that one of the reasons previous efforts may have failed is a lack of student interest and support. In light of this, I’d like to weigh the pros and cons of an honor code with my own scale.
Let’s start with the negatives: Oh no – you can get caught. The way I see it, if you’re doing everything you’re supposed to and not doing things you shouldn’t, there isn’t any argument against an honor code. In reality, arguing against an honor code would be arguing for a university’s advocation of cheating. I would hope that all students at TCU are intelligent enough to realize that such an argument can’t be reached logically.
Now for the benefits: According to the Skiff article, Ralph Carter, political science chairman, said that “academic dishonesty cheapens the TCU diploma for students who actually earn it.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself. As a hard-working student who cares deeply about academics, it’s a bit unsettling that I could slave through four years of undergraduate studies – without any assistance – while my classmates receive the same ultimate recognition (a Bachelor’s degree) after studying with each other for tests because they have to know the material “together.”
I’ve never been a fan of cheating. In high school, I learned to stand my ground and realize that real friends would never stop being friends with me because I wouldn’t let them copy my work. Since then, I’ve known that I am the only one who can take credit for my work: I complete the assignments, and no one else turns them in.
A schoolwide honor code would affirm my efforts, and I imagine the efforts of many at TCU who pride themselves on being academically honest. The only people with anything to worry about are the few who came to college expecting to receive their friends’ diplomas.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that TCU has an overwhelming problem with cheating and plagiarism – in fact it is just the opposite. So why do we still need the honor code?
Sharma said, “being ethical is the center part of TCU’s mission statement, and so it must be reflected on students’ work at all time.”
Even aside from integrity and ethics, an honor code would allow students to get a better grasp of all their material because they’d actually be learning it themselves. A code would provide motivation for students to do their work, which is especially important in a time when almost all intrinsic motivation is lost. As college students, we’re motivated by extra credit to participate in experiments, bribed with free food to have our picture taken and even lured by granola bars to be solicited by church members.
Gratuitous munchies aside, an honor code would provide students with needed accountability. In college we’re given many freedoms that, especially for freshmen, are different from the world we’ve known before. In being held accountable for dishonest actions such as cheating and plagiarism, it would send a message to all students that such behaviors are not acceptable and that TCU won’t tolerate them.
Anahita Kalianivala is a freshman English and psychology major from Fort Worth. Her column appears every Wednesday.