No honor code needed to discourage academic dishonesty

Although the honor code task force has lobbied for an official academic honor code document since 2006, their efforts may have run their course.

“I don’t know if we will ever have an actual document, but more of a commitment,” said Justin Brown, integrity task force chair.

With the support of the Faculty Senate and the Student Government Association, the honor code task force no longer has a set agenda to implement an official academic honor code, Brown said.

Because TCU has no official method of implementing an academic honor code, it is uncertain who has to approve it next. Ultimately, it might be a Board of Trustees decision, Brown said.

David Bedford, Student Relations Committee chair, said the Faculty Senate expresses support for the proposed academic honor code as long as it cooperates with the existing violations code. The Faculty Senate looks with favor on an honor code that would advance academic integrity as long as it is not punitive, Bedford said.

“The right kind of honor code could help students grow in academic integrity,” Bedford said.

SGA voted on the proposed honor code in spring 2006 and approved it, Brown said.

Nowell Donovan, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs, has been involved with the honor code task force throughout the whole process and expresses support, Brown said.

The honor code task force, composed of TCU students commissioned by SGA, wants to accomplish a culture change at TCU, Brown said.

“People aren’t confronted with cheating as an ethical issue, but as a convenience issue,” Brown said.

The honor code task force said it sees results from its efforts to implement an academic honor code. With events like Integrity Week in November with over 500 participants, the honor code task force has been able to raise awareness about the importance of academic integrity and honesty.

“We have seen an increase in dialogue among students and faculty about what constitutes cheating. That is what we are really going for here,” Brown said.

Some TCU professors are not convinced an academic honor code will affect levels of academic misconduct.

“I don’t think (an honor code) could hurt, at least it would send a message that we’re concerned about it (cheating),” said Ronald Burns, associate professor of criminal justice and director of the criminal justice program, in November. “Whether it will ultimately decrease cheating, I don’t know. I think the people who want to cheat are going to.”

Some students said they are also skeptical that an academic honor code would work.

“I think it is a good idea in theory. But, you need to take responsibility for yourself rather than others,” said Langley Calhoun, a junior history major.

Research conducted last fall by Catherine Wehlburg, executive director of the Office for Assessment and Quality Enhancement, said about 15 percent of TCU students either agreed or strongly agreed that cheating is a serious problem on campus. About 40 percent responded that they were not sure about cheating being a serious problem, and about 45 percent indicated that cheating is not a serious problem.

Wehlburg said the study consisted of a comprehensive survey of 991 undergraduate students.