Honor Code Enters Drafting Process

A subcommittee composed of several members of the Academic Integrity Committee has convened to begin the drafting process for what would be Harvard’s first-ever honor code, with plans to have a draft complete by the start of November, Dean of Undergraduate Education Jay M. Harris confirmed Tuesday.

A five-point proposal for the honor code presented to faculty last spring would establish, among other points, a second judicial board, distinct from the Administrative Board and populated by both students and faculty, that students accused of academic dishonesty could choose to hear their case. The proposed honor code would also require students to write a “declaration of integrity” on major exams and assignments. It is unclear how closely the honor code now being drafted will resemble last spring’s proposal.

The subcommittee tasked with drafting the honor code is composed of several administrators and students who plan to meet on a regular basis throughout October, according to Terah E. Lyons ’14, a subcommittee member who also sits on the larger Academic Integrity Committee.

“We have a really strong, necessary cacophony of voices in constructing this policy,” Lyons said of the subcommittee. “It’s also really nice to see students and administrators and faculty alike come together and really work as a team.”

The draft the subcommittee plans to create will not be final. After the first draft is constructed, it will be brought to the Academic Integrity Committee, Lyons said, adding that students will also be consulted for feedback.

Olivia Z. Zhu ’15, a member of both the Academic Integrity Committee and the subcommittee, said she thinks it is important that students are involved in the process of forming an honor code, adding that she “very much believe[s] in what the honor code stands for.”

The Academic Integrity Committee was first convened in fall 2010, but its efforts were accelerated in the past year with the unfolding of the Government 1310 cheating scandal, Harvard’s largest cheating case in recent memory. In August 2012, administrators announced that the Administrative Board was investigating roughly 125 students for plagiarism or inappropriate collaboration on a take-home exam. Roughly 70 students were ultimately required to temporarily withdraw from the College in connection with the scandal.

Seven months after the cheating case was announced, Harris, who chairs the Academic Integrity Committee, presented the committee’s honor code proposal at a faculty meeting. Since then, administrators have made moves to continue the ongoing conversation about academic integrity. In late April, administrators hosted a series of meetings in the Houses to solicit student feedback on the honor code proposal. And this Thursday, faculty members, including Interim Dean of the College Donald H. Pfister and Cabot Co-House Master Rakesh Khurana, will lead a discussion about academic integrity at Harvard called “Doing Good Work in a Noisy, Messy World.”

—Staff writer Madeline R. Conway can be reached at mconway@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @MadelineRConway.

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