Thursday, February 7, 2019

Guest Post: Can Honor Be Learned?

From the Honor Code Exit Exam:

Professor Z has a unit on Mark Twain in his sophomore english class. For pedagogically sound reasons two papers, due on the same date, are required for this unit. The first is to discuss the life and times of Twain up to his writing of "Huckleberry Finn" and discuss how his life experiences affected the work. The second is to examine his life and times up to his writing of "Letters From the Earth" and again examine how his work was affected.

At the due date Student C, among a few others, turns in only the first of the papers. Upon notification by Prof Z that TWO papers are expected, Student C provides the second work in a manila envelope, properly labeled and slipped under the prof's locked door. The next day Prof Z finds Student C's envelope, and opens it to find the second paper with a Post-It note attached. The note clearly states "here is my second paper" and thanks the professor for the chance to submit the work past the deadline.

Upon examining Student C's paper, Prof Z finds it is actually SIGNED by Student A, contradicting the Post-It note. Further examination indicates it is line-for-line, word-for-word, character-for-character the same as Student A's paper which Student A turned in on time.

Professor Z concludes that Student C obtained Student A's paper, Xerox-ed it without even bothering to change the name and submitted it for evaluation as if it were indeed Student C's work. When confronted, Student C does not contest these facts.

The Honor Council weighs the facts of the matter arriving at one of the following outcomes. You pick which is most likely:

  1. The act was determined to be willful and done in full knowledge of the honor code thereby justifying stern action to maintain the University's integrity.  Student C was awarded an 'FV' (failure due to honor code violation) carrying -4 quality points and not allowed to register for any courses until this course was re-taken and successfully completed.
  2. The act was egregious and the unavoidable conclusion was that Student C felt entitled to an A and therefore considered cheating justified. This called into question all other work Student C had allegedly performed in this and other classes. In addition to an 'FV' in this course, Student C earned a 'WF' in all other courses, was suspended for a year to be re-admitted under a one-year probation only after the course was re-taken successfully.
  3. Student C suffers from learning disabilities and a certain mental condition requiring medication. These medications have side effects that impair reasoning, memory and judgment. Taking this into consideration, Student C gets an Incomplete for the course and is assigned to a counselor who coordinates activities with professors to prevent future occurrences and ensure that Student C stays on task.
  4. Student A's actions were also reviewed but before it was determined there was no transgression on that student's part, Student A speaks in anger to Professor Z.  Student C on the other hand, makes the case that the assignment was confusing, that much of the second paper was actually in the first, that submitting Student A's paper was a simple mistake, poor judgment, or an understandable accident, and if Professor Z hadn't actually asked for the second paper none of this would have happened. The Honor Council agrees and Student C gets an 'A' while Student A is chastised for his moments of anger and enrolled in anger management classes.
  5. The situation proves that Twain was more accurate in his assessment of humankind in "Letters From the Earth" than in "Huckleberry Finn." To honor Student C for this ground-breaking analysis a PhD is awarded, O-D-K membership is bestowed and a statue carved from an ancient tusk, then gilded in gold is erected in the quad. Twain is removed from all courses. Student C lands a job as an apprentice barista but is later found spiking watered-down espresso with No-Doze and is now a campaign manager for a senatorial candidate.

Remember, only one answer is correct!