On Feb. 8, Central Student Government President Bobby Dishell, a Public Policy senior, announced the creation of a task force to develop a student honor code for the University. This new code would serve as an addition to the University’s pre-existing Statement of Student Rights and Responsibilities with the goal of addressing academic integrity, individual behavior and student rights. While attempting to put the University community’s values in writing is a commendable effort, the creation of a new honor code is a misguided attempt to influence the behavior of students at the University.
Released in 1996, the Statement of Student Rights and Responsibilities incorporates aspects of “civility, dignity, diversity, education, equality, freedom, honesty, and safety” into its objective. It informs students on acceptable behaviors that the University values and the actions taken if they are violated. The final chapter of the Statement also provides sanctions and intervention plans for violations of any of its standards
In the press release, Dishell stated, “The aim of the task force, and eventually the honor code, will be to encourage and motivate students to hold ourselves to a higher standard.” He added, “Currently, there is not one place where students can turn to in order to know what our community stands for.” Since it is commonplace for large institutions to implement a wide-scale honor code, something the University is lacking, developing this code is worthwhile. However, it is naïve to believe a new honor code will achieve what Dishell hopes. A brief written statement on its own will simply not be successful in motivating positive behavior across campus.
If CSG is serious about taking steps to improve campus behavior, it should focus on more tangible initiatives. CSG should begin by convening forums throughout the year for student organizations that receive funding through CSG to facilitate open dialogue and discussion on positive behaviors. Participation in this forum should be mandatory, and in order to ensure members of the 1,000-plus organizations attend, yearly CSG funding totaling more than $300,000 should be withheld until they actively participate. By doing so, the student population that is involved in clubs will be directly engaging with the goals of the Statement and honor code. The generation of open dialogue within clubs will increase social pressure and incentivize students to abide by and respect the honor code and Statement. This plan of action will undoubtedly be more effective than having another document to read that will ultimately be tossed aside. And for those not involved in student organizations, the honor code should be heavily advertised and promoted around campus.
CSG must also address which social factors hinder the current ideals of the Statement from being integrated into students’ conduct on and off campus. By bringing relevancy, value and respect to the honor code through open dialogue, peer-led discussions and group intermediaries, CSG can impact the social atmosphere from which these behaviors stem and generate positive relationships between students and the honor code proactively.