Unlike exams in the college of Literature, Science and the Arts, during which professors and graduate student instructors patrol the room, authorities immediately leave the premises when Engineering exams are passed out.
Instructors leave because of the Honor Code that College of Engineering students have adhered to since 1915. At every exam students sign a pledge that says “I have neither given nor received aid on this examination, nor have I concealed any violation of the Honor Code.”
Violations of the code are not limited to peeking at answers on someone else”s test or copying homework. For some professors, violations include working together on homework assignments or getting help from anyone other than the class instructors.
Some students believe the College of Engineering is trying to “stunt their personal growth” and turn them into “hermits,” but Engineering Junior Ted Way said that”s not the case.
Currently, the Honor Code is undergoing minor changes to make it more relevant to students and easier to understand.
“The Honor Code assures that students with an Engineering degree from the University are honorable and trustworthy persons,” Way said.
Way is president of the Honor Council, the student group that oversees the code, investigates accused violations and recommends verdicts and punishments to the Faculty Committee on Discipline.
“These are the principles we believe are important,” Way said. “You shouldn”t take credit for other people”s work.”
But other Engineering students see the Honor Code in a different light.
“The whole thing is crap,” said an Engineering sophomore who asked not to be identified. He was accused of violating the Honor Code when a classmate allegedly stole one of his programs.
After appearing before the Honor Council, the student was found guilty and was punished with 25 hours of community service and a record of the incident on his transcript.
“I thought it was really unfair because I was wrongly accused,” the student said. He also commented on the fact that the Honor Council is made up of peers of the accused.
“Usually if one of those students is your friend, that almost always gets you off the hook without even a slap on the wrist,” he said. “It ensures that all students are honest and trustworthy unless you have friends on the Honor Council.”
“What we do is only a recommendation,” Way said. The council takes extenuating circumstances such as death of a relative into account when judging cases, but does not discuss their decision in front of the accused student.
“We find a good 80 to 90 percent guilty,” Way added, since professors make most of the accusations.
Engineering students readily admit that the code is not always followed.
“You walk around the third floor of the media union Thursday night and you see it being broken all the time,” Way said, referring to students working on their homework together.