Our Honor, Suh!

(Ed. Note--The Crimson does not necessarily endorse opinions expressed in printed communications. No attention will be paid to anonymous letters and only under special conditions, at the request of the writer will names be withheld.)

To the Editor of the CRIMSON:

The University expects each student to behave honorably during an examination. He is not supposed to crib or copy his neighbor's work nor resort to any of the time honored tricks to get by. He is made to realize that if during these examinations his conduct is not becoming a gentleman's he is likely to be requested by the authorities to leave. The whole honor code in school work is well enough known not to need any further elaboration. The student understands its implications and is flattered by the reliance placed on his sense of responsibility and honor. He takes noble resolves to abide by the code.

But what does he find when he enters the place of examination? The room is patrolled by monitors whose occupation, when not handing out note books is to glare suspiciously; and this they do for three hours. They have little faith in the student's power to resist temptation. They put him by himself with three or four empty seats between him and his neighbor, as if he were a moral leper. I don't precisely know what happens when the monitor catches someone cheating, but probably the criminal is expelled with indignation; is hailed before a dean; sermonized and expelled from Harvard forever.

This appears to me to be a very cynical attitude on the part of the University. The code of honor is apparently encouraged only to make the monitor's labors easier. But it rests with either the monitor or the student to prevent cheating; if it's the monitor's job, then the responsibility is not the student's. He can cheat as much as he please provided he is not caught; and if he is caught he must be punished not for an ethical offense, but for violating a class room regulation, and such a punishment would not be explusion this time, but confiscation of his paper, or perhaps merely the deletion of the copied passages. On the other hand if the student himself must prevent the cheating, he knows what to do and what not to do. He knows what the responsibility of the honor system is and is either willing to abide by it or to accept the consequences of violating his word.

It must be one of the two methods of conducting examinations, but not both. As it is when the student doesn't cheat he merely gets credit for obedience and fear of the monitor, if he does cheat he is punished for imposing on the confidence of his instructor. This state of affairs is insulting both to our intelligence and to our honor, and for the sake of candor either the honor system or the grammar school system should go. --Ivan Rosenthal.