In response to the issue of prevalent plagiarism on college campuses,
Rider has brought up for consideration the idea of an honor code,
a formal set of standards to which individuals would be expected to
adhere, standards that govern actions both inside and outside of the
classroom, according to Dr. Anthony Campbell, vice-president of Student
With the onset of the information age and the ever-increasing enrollment
at colleges and universities, students find themselves bombarded with
opportunities to plagiarize and take advantage of peers and mentors.
The driving factor behind the establishment of an honor code is, essentially,
that it must be founded by way of a grass-roots approach.
“Every honor code is unique to the campus community it belongs
to,” said Campbell. “But one thing does not change…
in order for it to be successful it has to come up from the culture
of the community.”
The prevalence of online report generators and other such services
has supported this pandemic, bringing to light a situation that has
existed for quite some time.
An honor code can take many forms and may be academic-based, behavioral-based
or both. At its heart, however, is a responsibility, which is shared
amongst students and faculty that emphasizes community values and
ultimately creates a healthy, vibrant campus whose members are able
to feel secure in trusting their fellow classmates, according to Campbell.
Several well-known schools have established honor codes with varying
degrees of success. The University of Virginia (UV), for instance,
has an honor code that has been in place for 160 years, which has
been met with a great deal of approval from its students. Its code
is rather severe, with the only punishment in place for a student
found guilty of lying, cheating or stealing by a jury of their peers
is expulsion, according to the UV website.
Princeton University has a complex honor tradition which is well outlined
on its own website, www.princeton.edu/~honor. Princeton has a separate
Honor Committee that handles only violations of the honor code, which
covers only in-class examinations. A separate entity, The Committe
on Discipline, handles all other academic violations such as plagiarism,
lab reports, homework and take-home exams as well as criminal activity.
The Honor Committee is composed soley of students while The Committee
on Discipline includes administrators and faculty members as well
The Honor Code in place at Princeton also requires every student to
sign an Honor Pledge at the conclusion of every in-class examination.
The pledge states “I pledge my honor that I have not violated
the Honor Code during this examination.”
The possibility of an honor code at Rider is, very likely, not going
to affect the typical undergraduate student here at Rider in that
it takes extensive discussion, revision, and agreement before it can
even be proposed to the student body, according to Campbell. The typical
time period estimated for the establishment of an honor code is approximated
to be four to five years, due to its delicate nature and consequences.
“This is not something that I, as the Dean of Students, can
impose on the students,” said Campbell. “It’s got
to be something that’s developed from among the students and
the faculty, a campus ethos that actually comes into effect, a set
of expectations and standards of behavior that everybody affirms rather
than a set of rules. That’s why it has to come from the bottom
up and that’s why it takes time.”
There are many pluses to adopting an honor code such as an improvement
in student-teacher relations, a more secure and connected student
body,and a well-established culture of trust.
“We have all the rules we need right now; it’s not throwing
more rules on it,” said Campbell. Instead, it is “an understanding
in the community about how we treat each other and trust each other.”
While an honor code may take years in the making, it must be initiated
by way of a demonstrated interest from the student body. Without student
support, it cannot make the shift from idea to reality, according
to Campbell. If support is shown, a committee will be established
which will consist of students and faculty and will work on the basis
of consensus in determining proper consequences for violation of the
By a general agreement among the members of the committee, penalties
would become universal in their range, but subjective in regards to
“What’s important with an honor code in adjudicating a
violation is consistency,” said Campbell, meaning that this
new standard would eliminate biases in regards to individual professors,
instead establishing an universal code of conduct by which all students
are judged equally.
Those interested in expressing their opinions about an honor code
will be given the opportunity on Nov. 20 from 11:30-1:00 p.m. in the
Bart Luedeke Center, room 257.