As many Blazers were suddenly made aware last Thursday, the Blair administration has decided to reshape its rules against academic dishonesty into a vague and overreaching honor code. This code is little more than a synthesis of already established rules and regulations regarding anything from stealing property to misuse of IDs masqueraded as an attempt to "ensure a sense of honor and high principles" in Blair students.
The code, which has been in development for two years, essentially imposes morals held by the administration upon students who do not necessarily share them.
The idea that students should not cheat and should be punished for doing so is a virtuous one, but forcing students to sign their names to something they have had scant chance to review and no input in designing is overstepping the administration's boundaries.
Students were not presented with the choice of whether to sign the code. By penalty of administrative referral, Blazers had to affirm that they "understand, support and agree to follow Montgomery Blair's Honor Code" on the spot. Thus, Blazers who signed the code but held objections were essentially "telling an untruth," violating the terms of honor from the start.
Ninety-two percent of 100 students surveyed in English classes feel the code will not deter academic dishonesty, and 87 percent of those who say they have cheated in the past say they will continue to do so even after signing the code. That same 87 percent has, therefore, been forced into a lie by signing the code.
"Why didn't they bother to ask the students?" was the recurring theme of class discussions following the code's bombshell introduction. A code with the intent of establishing integrity and ethics in a student body should reflect the ethics of that student body; the only way to do so would be to ask for student input. An honor code originated in part by its subjects would make it as well as academic honesty more universally appealing and represent peer values.
Further, the CAP code, on which the Blair code was partially based, has failed to curb what it was designed to combat. The percentage of CAP students who knowingly and willingly cheat, despite the enforcement of the honor policy, is high. According to a Silver Chips survey of 100 CAP students, 94 percent say they have cheated in their high school career.
The truth is that there is little, if any, support for the Montgomery Blair Honor Code from either the faculty or the student body. Suggestions for its improvement are present in Blair's classrooms, whether they come from the students or the staff, and the administration should use these resources. Academic dishonesty is a serious problem that needs attention (see "related stories" to the left), but imposing a far-reaching code upon students in the middle of the school year is a step in the wrong direction.
L.A. Holmes. L.A. Holmes is a SENIOR!! ('03 Baby!) in the Communication Arts Program. L.A. currently reigns as Managing Opinions and Editorials Editor of <i>Silver Chips</i> with her dear friend, Rachel Yood, and she is the first in <i>Silver Chips</i> history to hold the hotly contested and … More »