Honor Council: Honesty is the policy

The 22 members of the Honor Council are on a mission to stimulate honesty and accountability among the student body by making students aware of the seriousness of the Honor Code on this campus throughout Academic Integrity Week [AIW].
“The importance of this week is to highlight how important it is to be a person of integrity, not only in the classroom, but also in life,” Robert Castro, vice president of the Honor Council, said.
“There are approximately 44 violations a year,” Becky Quarles, president of the Honor Council, said. “In terms of the case loads we receive, we receive more violations during finals and midterms.”
According to Quarles, violations result in anything from a warning, to ethics workshops at the Academic Development Center, to expulsion.
“We have two sides to the Honor Council: judication and education,” Quarles said. “We look over cases and we give presentations to classes around campus.”
As part of AIW, one of the most popular events held was the “Do-Nut Cheat” drive, in which donuts were sold to faculty and then distributed.
“A member of the Honor Council gave a five to ten minute presentation about the Honor Code to most of the classes that they delivered donuts to,” Quarles said.
Primarily, the Honor Code is set up to protect students from “cheating, plagiarism, collusion and academic dishonesty,” which can hurt their level of education and affect their job performance later in life.
If there is any doubt whether a student has committed a violation, a written complaint is filed, and if enough evidence is collected, a hearing is scheduled by members of the Honor Council to determine if an infraction took place.
Disciplinary action varies with each case.
Quarles says she is aware of the fact that many students view the Honor Council negatively.
“Sometimes people who aren’t very informed about what we do have that type of attitude, but we try to reduce that by creating and posting informative flyers and posters that give students a reason why we do what we do,” Quarles said. “We present ourselves as friendly and we want the best for students, the value of our degree to reflect the hard work we put into it.”
Currently, there is a banner on campus that reads, “There’s no good way to add cheater to your resume.”
However, many students believe it’s very easy to cheat.
“It’s very easy to cheat because many classrooms are way too big,” Sabrina Joseph, sophomore, said. “Yes, they put a space in between students during a test, but you can still see the paper in front of you. Some professors just leave, and it seems they are just there to give a grade.”
Still, many students appreciate the efforts of the Honor Council and understand the importance of the regulations.
“The Honor Council makes it almost impossible for someone to cheat or break the code in general without it bothering their conscience,” Astin Hayes, freshman, said.
“It is not necessary to police people, but it is a good idea for a respectable institution to show that they value honesty,” Victor Cueto, sophomore, said.
Today, Academic Integrity Week continues with March Madness Day, at 4 p.m. in the Rathskeller.
For more information about the Honor Council or the Honor Code, visit http://www.miami.edu/honor-council/.

Erin Wright can be contacted at ewright@umsis.miami.edu