Honor for Honor’s Sake?

Belle writes: This weekís Chronicle of Higher Ed. has a cover story about strains on UVaís honor code. The Chronicleís response section (or “colloquy”) for this article even boasts a contribution from Terry Holland.

17 Responses to “Honor for Honor’s Sake?”


  • My favorite part of the article came towards the end, when the writer talked about how the honor code “builds brand awareness” for the university. Suggests that it’s not much more than a marketing tool, a way to distinguish UVA from other schools.

  • Can you think of another real reason why this would exist? Would the controversy and hassle otherwise be worth the trouble? Not really, and that’s why other schools don’t do it. It’s a niche thing; other schools could do it, but they wouldn’t be the first, it would be a hassle, and that gives UVa their little edge. I’d argue that everything any university does is about brand awareness and prestige. There are other “middleman” reasons for doing things, but those are backed by marketing as well. Policy is built on business.

  • My apologies to Mr. Hoover’s parents, but he sucks. After reading that article, I’ve learned that 1) trial can be stressful, 2) there is some process (both for individual trials and of the Bloomfield cases) and 3) some people don’t like it.

    Great. I really couldn’t have just about surmised that from almost any honor system. I suppose for those readers of CHE who like surface knowledge without a critical view, this would be fantastic. It definitely provides you with enough for chatting over brie.

  • My favorite part of the article came towards the end, when the writer talked about how the honor code “builds brand awareness” for the university. Suggests that it’s not much more than a marketing tool, a way to distinguish UVA from other schools.

    But who is the target of this marketing?

    Iíll argue that it isnít prospective students so much as alumni (a.k.a. prospective donors). Thatís where the real money is.

    Perhaps I’d better expand the target group to include current students (a.k.a. future alumni donors). Though most current students probably think the Honor Committee folks are small-minded politico-dorks pining for Lawn rooms and/or Law School admission, once these skeptical students graduate they seem preternaturally susceptible to “Honor”-laden fundraising schemes. That’s another sort of “branding”.

  • Iíll disagree.

    For years and years, UVa has been presenting its honor code, with its two unique qualities — student-run (though clearly not student-responsible) and the single sanction of expulsion Ė as the best model to promote academic integrity.

    The Chronicle cover story ask if the UVa model is indeed the best way to promote academic integrity. And I think the article shows that it is absolutely not.

    That’s the focus of the article as I read it; I think the aspects you highlighted were rather ancillary.

    In your comment title, Anonymous, you describe the column as ill-informed. How so?

  • I’m not the original poster, but I’ll take a swing at this.

    First, all the Chronicle story contains is the writer’s opinion that Georgia Tech’s system is better. He provides few, if any, facts to back up that assertion.

    From the Chronicle story:

    Although Georgia Tech’s fledgling code has won over some students, others complain that the punishments are too light and that professors don’t take it seriously.

    “Many students feel like there is not enough student input,” Ms. Cames says. “It’s been difficult to make students feel like they’re really connected to the system. Some students don’t even know there is an honor committee.”

    Sound like pretty weighty concerns to me. UVa’s system may not be the best way, but the Chronicle story doesn’t come close to proving it.

    As for being ill-informed, the story relies mainly on events that happened at least three years ago. Instead of using a mix of unnamed sources and people with axes to grind, the Chronicle writer could have used the November 2000 report from an honor system review commission composed of current and former Honor Committee members as well as faculty and a Board of Visitors member. Among the commission’s findings were that minorities are alienated from the system and that the trial process is too complicated and adversarial, focused on procedure instead of truth.

    Or he could have asked the committee’s former chairman, Thomas Hall, who has been open about many of the system’s flaws, including the unwillingness of many UVa students and faculty to report violations.

    How ancillary are those aspects of the story?

  • First, all the Chronicle story contains is the writer’s opinion that Georgia Tech’s system is better. He provides few, if any, facts to back up that assertion.

    I didnít find that which you report seeing anywhere in the article. This is as close as statement to your characterization that I could find in the article:

    UVa’s system — defined by its lone sanction — might actually punish, and deter, more cheaters if it allowed for less absolute punishments.

    You write:As for being ill-informed, the story relies mainly on events that happened at least three years ago. Instead of using a mix of unnamed sources and people with axes to grind, the Chronicle writer could have used the November 2000 report from an honor system review commission composed of current and former Honor Committee members as well as faculty and a Board of Visitors member

    And the sources for the November 2000 report didnít have their own biases? (And isnít it silly to condemn, in the first part of your sentence, three-year old sources as flawed due to their age, and then, in the second part of your sentence, claim a two-year old source to be reliable, somehow?!)

    How ancillary are those aspects of the story?

    Unless you were the original Anonymous poster (and this weíll never know) why would you be defensive about my description as ancillary that which s/he noted as articleís the main points (stress for the accused; a sketch of the process; some local dissatisfaction )? I still think those issues were not the primary focus of the article.

  • I am not sure if you are disagreeing because you really disagree with me, because you are a fan of the article, or even (perhaps), because you’d like to see an expansion of on-topic discussion. I suppose it doesn’t much matter…

    I think that U-Va would characterize the honor system (and probably has in the past) not as “THE BEST”, but as a good and effective system, one appropriate in many ways to the peculiarities of the University.

    While I agree completely that the point of the article wasn’t to show the three things I listed, I think that the effect of the article, at least as related to U-Va’s system, was to highlight the nature of any trial-based system.

    The CHE article certainly did not look at the efficacy of the system in terms of academic integrity (at least not beyond any sweeping, unbacked assertions). No one involved with the system thinks that it is perfect, and anyone believing that any system of self-cleansing (as the system purports to be) would be perfect on this scale is a little bit naive. The interesting questions are, I suppose, at what cost and for what benefit. The article almost completely ignored the latter and only granted a cursory examination of the former.

  • I am not sure if you are disagreeing because you really disagree with me, because you are a fan of the article, or even (perhaps), because you’d like to see an expansion of on-topic discussion.

    Huh? Who? What?!

  • I am not sure if the disagreement stems from:

    A – disagreement with my contentions

    B – an affinity for the article (irrespective of my particular contentions)

    or

    C – a desire to see more discussion of the topics, as opposed to horseworkers, legal recruiting or the impending release (to video) of the Skulls Part 2.

  • This is an article from the Washington Post:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A58274-2002Apr16.html

    A quote from the article which is quite chilling:

    The accused freshman was trying to overcome a bad start in the class. His first assignment grade had been a 46 percent. He devoted far more time to CS 1321 than any other course. He said he was not going to pass up any chance to get a firmer grip on the material. When he found himself with a homework assignment he did not understand, and no teaching assistants or professors available on a campus off-week, he convinced himself that just chatting with another student would not violate the rules. Many less devoted but perhaps wiser classmates decided not to turn in the assignment at all. It was only 2 percent of their grade. But the freshman wanted to be ready for the final, and that meant doing all the work.

    He wanted to learn. That was his big mistake. The university officials who filled in the violation form were forced by the Georgia Tech rules to stray so far from their obligation as educators that they seriously listed part of the freshmanís offense in exactly these words: “He was trying to learn it.”

  • From my experience with UVA students, I’ve concluded that many of them support the idea of the honor code in an abstract way. By that I mean, since they don’t consider that the code would ever be applied against _them_ (but only against distant others whom they don’t know), it seems like a fine thing, something to be proud of and brag about.

    I think it may also appeal, as a marketing tool, to parents.

  • Well, I donít know if you are addressing me, or one of the other (multiple?) Anonymous posters here.

    But, at the risk of further encouraging this debate of lopsided identity confusion, Iíll take a stab at your multiple choice schema:

    A. I donít know what your contentions are.

    B. I donít have an affinity with (hint: this verb never works with “of”, “between”, or “with” . . . a never “for”; Waldo will recognize the French root, and Cecil the usage problem) the article. The article isnít my kin, nor do I have any other natural bond with its author or content. In short, I donít have a clue what you mean by this.

    C. I do indeed hope to see more discussion of topics on this site, and generally find the drivel on the trolling topics you mention (horseworkers, et al.) best avoided Ė but thatís not why I posted a comment here.

    Finally, it is really diffcult Ė as perhaps my response here indicates Ė to establish intelligent communication on this board with Anonymous, the other Anonymous, the original Anonymous, the why-donít-you-answer-my-questions Anonymous, et cetera.

    Iíve tried here in this thread, and now Iím giving up.

  • (hint: this verb never works with “of”, “between”, or “with” . . .

    Should read: this verb ALWAYS works with . . . of/between/with, and NEVER with “for” . . .

  • I’ve gone and gotten myself an identity just to make you happy. Now you can track me.

    Your affinity thing is complete crap. I have several reasons for knowing that you are wrong.

    There are at least 171,000 web-pages which seem to recognize “affinity for” (check our good friend

    google). I apologize for being a bit of a populist, but English, in particular, is a language of

    usage, not of elitist control. Second, you knew exactly what I meant, so apparently the wording did

    the trick — call it poetic if you’d like. Third, Mirriam-Webster recognizes my usage. I suppose

    that I will refrain from exposing my affinity for “affinity for” when drinking French wine with

    Waldo, but, when I am speaking English, I’ll be damned if I am going to talk as if there is a stick

    up my butt (I will leave that to the French). Don’t bring the heat if your defense is going to be

    French.

    Now, I suppose you can figure out what the three part description meant? Let me review:

    1 – I said I didn’t like the article for certain reasons.

    2 – You said you did like the article.

    Now, again, I am not sure if your disagreement with me stems from:

    A – disagreement with my contentions (i.e., from my original post; you think I am somewhere there

    mistaken)

    B – an affinity for the article (irrespective of my particular contentions) — that is: you like

    the article, you have a feeling of appreciation for it and you are defending it against all comers

    (which seems to me to be the case)

    or

    C – a desire to see more discussion of the topics, as opposed to horseworkers, legal recruiting or

    the impending release (to video) of the Skulls Part 2.

    So, have you figured it out?

    For your help:

    Main Entry: af∑fin∑i∑ty

    Pronunciation: &-‘fi-n&-tE

    Function: noun

    Inflected Form(s): plural -ties

    Etymology: Middle English affinite, from Middle French or Latin; Middle French afinitť, from Latin

    affinitas, from affinis bordering on, related by marriage, from ad- + finis end, border Date: 14th

    century 1 : relationship by marriage

    2 a : sympathy marked by community of interest : KINSHIP b (1) : an attraction to or liking for

    something (people with an affinity to darkness — Mark Twain) (pork and fennel have a natural

    affinity for each other — Abby Mandel)
    (2) : an attractive force between substances or

    particles that causes them to enter into and remain in chemical combination c : a person

  • LosNakedMariachi

    This may not be relevant, but I have an affinity for Belle getting kickt off of cvillenews.com forever.

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