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Many high schools, colleges, and universities have honor codes or honor systems that are intended to cultivate integrity and prevent academically dishonest behavior such as cheating, stealing, and plagiarizing. Honor codes may require students to write a statement on work submitted stating that the work is of their own, to act as enforcers of the honor codes, or the honor codes may be just a rule that students have to follow. Schools that already have honor codes in place have shown that honor codes are not effective which is why Hammonton High School should not establish an honor code.
Honor codes, which often take the form of written positions, are ineffective because written words will not change a student’s actions. In Lawrence Academy, a private boarding school in Massachusetts, the honor code required the “students to write a pledge of honor on every piece of work submitted, stating that it was the result of their own thinking and efforts” (Source B). The written words are not only excessive but they only serve as unnecessary reminders that remind students of what they already know. Every student will always know that cheating is plagiarism is not allowed and they do not need a constant written reminder of something that will never leave their minds, An academically dishonest student who cheats and plagiarizes will not care about the words on their paper saying that the world is of their own and would cheat anyway. Regardless of whether or not there’s a pledge of honor written on a paper, taking someone else’s work and claiming it as their own is the very definition of cheating or plagiarizing.
Some school honor codes are enforced by the student body, which is not effective because the majority of the students will not report their peers or their friends if they see them cheating. A survey taken at a small private university shows that only 8% of the students would report a fellow student for cheating and that 40% of the students have violated the honor code and has not been caught (Source E). At the University of Virginia, the school’s honor code requires that the student write an honor statement on every test. The honor code is policed by the student body. Regardless of this, 157 students were involved in a cheating scandal (Source D). The low percentage from the survey and the mass number of students involved in the cheating scandal proves that the majority of students will not report their peers for dishonest behavior. Students fear that reporting their peers would create friction between them and it is unlikely that students would report their friends and have them fail an assignment or expelled from a college. For these reasons, student enforced honor codes are not effective.
High schools should not establish an honor code because honor codes are ineffective. Writing words on a piece of paper will not prevent a dishonest student from cheating or plagiarizing and student enforced honor codes are not effective because students are not likely to report their peers for cheating. The students in Hammonton High School already know that they are not allowed to cheat or plagiarize without constantly being reminded. They know that all of their work is expected to be of their own and that there are consequences for cheating or plagiarizing. An honor code would be redundant because it does nothing but tell them what they already know.
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