Professors and administrators at McDaniel College are currently reviewing the institution’s Honor Code and considering what changes may have to be made to it. A faculty board has been impaneled and at least one student forum has been held in order to obtain input on what alterations should be implemented.
The student forum held on Nov. 15, attended by a small group of faculty, administrators, and students, provided a glimpse into the faculty’s mindset on what changes could come to the Honor Code and why they are necessary. Dr. Kate Dobson of the English department said that the faculty panel is focusing on the role that professors have in the Honor System, as well as the manner in which cases involving violations of the Code are heard. Dr. Dobson specifically discussed the need to update parts of the Honor Code about the use of electronic sources, such as regulating the use of smart phones during exams, and generally spoke of creating a “culture of academic honor” at McDaniel College.
The college’s provost, Dr. Thomas Falkner, further emphasized the need to review educating students about the use of electronics in academic work, saying that the college needs to spend much more time “raising the consciousness” of how students use electronic sources. The administrators present at the meeting stated that there are between six and 12 Honor Code cases each semester, and Dr. Falkner told the forum that almost all of them involve some sort of electronic source, mostly plagiarizing from the Internet or cheating using a smart phone.
Students, in the discussion led by school president Dr. Roger Casey, were also opinionated about the role the Honor Code plays in academic life. Some students raised the idea that there must be a separation between how cases of incidental and purposeful plagiarism are punished, and that First Year Seminar courses, where the Code is supposed to be taught to incoming students, are not consistent in how they educate incoming students about it.
The administrators became aware of a further problem after they learned that transfer students do not receive the same education of the code because they do not take a First Year Seminar course. The other major problem with the Honor Code that was discussed involved the accessibility of its contents beyond the Honor Pledge displayed in every classroom. Like many other school documents, the specific details of the Code are no longer printed and are only found on a on the school website.
After the meeting, Dean of Student Affairs Beth Gerl said “there needs to be a very thorough review of the Honor Code” and that, from what she had heard in the forum, “it needs to be updated.”
Although there appears to be a consensus that the Honor Code needs to be altered, no timetable has been given for when any changes would be announced or implemented.
The Honor Code in its entirety is very difficult to find online. It is not easy to navigate from the mcdaniel.edu website to the catalog.mcdaniel.edu website (on which the full Honor Code can be found). If the Honor Code is to be a core component of McDaniel College, it needs to be presented in its entirety as part of the 'About McDaniel' tab on the mcdaniel.edu homepage so it can be easily accessible by current students, faculty, and prospective students. If the Honor Code continues to be so hidden from us as it is now, the College cannot expect it to be fully followed and enforced.