2. I will report any violations of this Code to the Professor and to
All work presented here is my own. I have neither given nor received, and will neither give nor receive, any unauthorized assistance in this exam.
HONOR SYSTEM APPROVED
By an overwhelming vote, the honor system was approved. All but six students voted "yes, have the honor code" and "yes, I will report". Five voted for the honor system but did not pledge to report. One voted against the system but did pledge to report. Nobody voted "no" and "no".
To the students who voted "yes" and "yes": Thank you for your commitment. However, please remember that voting is the easy part -- the hard part comes when you get stuck on an exam question and see your neighbor working away, or when you see a friend cheating and have to report it. May you have the will power and moral courage to back up your votes with action.
To the five "yes and no" voters: Thank you for your honesty, and congratulations for having the courage to stake out a lonely position. It's precisely that moral courage that makes me confident that you will have no part in cheating, not even a passive silent part. May your conscience be your guide.
To the one "no and yes" voter: Thank you for your willingness to go
along with a
system that you personally do not favor. You have expressed trust in the wishes of your fellow students, and that sort of trust is what makes the system actually work.
Trust or blind trust?
There was one "yes and yes" voter who wrote "I wonder if this actually prevents people who are planning on cheating from cheating". That's a fair comment. An honor system works with those people who have a sense of honor. The majority of would-be cheaters are decent people who have lost the discipline to Do The Right Thing, or who have talked themselves into believing that "it's not that bad", or that "everybody does it". Trust and honor are the best incentives for these people to be true to themselves. As some famous person (I forget who) said: "The only way to make a man trustworthy is to trust him".
However, we all know that there are a few rotten-to-the-core vermin out there who wouldn't be deterred by any of this. Rest assured that I will not be turning a blind eye to betrayal of trust. Every student is entitled to be treated with trust and respect, and the TA and I will assume that a student is 100% honest unless there is substantial evidence to the contrary. However, "innocent until proven guilty" doesn't mean "innocent even when proven guilty"! Real evidence and credible allegations will be investigated. For instance, if two test papers come in with identical and unusual errors, we will find out who copied from whom. (This happened a year ago in my probability class. The student who copied from the other received a 0 for the exam, and eventually failed the class).
I hope and expect that the Code will be enough, and that the semester will go smoothly and without violations. Most semesters it does. But what if it doesn't?
If a violation is reported, I will first talk privately with the accused student, without revealing the source of the accusation. In the past there have been a couple of incidents, and every one was resolved satisfactorily in this way. However, if we cannot agree on the facts of the case or on an appropriate settlement, I will convene a jury of impartial observers and present the evidence to them, with the accused given the opportunity to respond. If the jury decides that there is convincing evidence of cheating, I will forward the case to the Dean's Office, with a recommendation that the maximum possible penalty be applied. From that point on, the case will be handled according to the rules of the University of Texas and the laws of the State of Texas.
ON TRUST AND HONOR
Just over 60 years ago, a young man came to this country from Italy, fleeing the oppression of Mussolini and the Fascist Party. He had little money, knew little English and knew few people here, but he had high hopes of finding a home where he could live in freedom and dignity.
On his first day in New York, a friend took him to a boarding house, where he presented his identification papers to the clerk. The clerk said ``What do I want these for? You pay your money and you get your room.'' The man asked his friend to translate, but he already understood. He was in a land where even a stranger was trusted. He had found the first brick of his home.
Back in Italy the man had always taken shortcuts and looked for ways to beat the system. He felt no sense of guilt, as it was an accepted part of the game. In this country, he paid every penny of his taxes, returned extra change, and always strove to be worthy of the trust he received. Not only did this country give him a home, it made him a better man.
The mutual trust and honor that characterized the country my father found in 1939 has eroded. Even before 9/11, we stopped trusting strangers - now we demand Social Security numbers and photo IDs. ``Better safe than sorry'' has replaced ``innocent until proven guilty'' as the national slogan. At the same time, we no longer view dishonesty with horror, merely with annoyance.
This is wrong, and I hope that you will choose to do something
about it, making this class a place where personal responsibility and mutual
trust once again prevail.