Wanner answers questions about the Honor Code

Feb. 15, 2002, midnight | By Annie Peirce | 18 years, 11 months ago

Assistant Principal Linda Wanner answers some of the questions posed by the new honor code.

SCO: Why did you feel the honor code was necessary?
Wanner: Many institutions of learning operate under a system of honor or have an Honor Code. Some teachers at Blair said that when they were in school, both high school and college, they had to write a honor statement at the bottom of tests and papers submitted. I believe that an honor code only codifies what everyone believes and practices: tests are one's own work, papers that have cited material should name the source, everyone should be truthful when asked questions by administrators, teachers, etc.

SCO: Does the implementation of the honor code represent a change in school policy?
Wanner: Absolutely not except for the formation of the Honors Council which is intended to give the student a chance, an advantage if you will, to have others hear his/her explanation as to why a particular judgment leveled against him/her needs to be reconsidered.

SCO: Is the punishment for violating the honor code different from violating cheating rules of the school?
Wanner: No, although we as a faculty would like to get away from the term cheating. I suppose we could agree with Shakespeare, "What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet," and so in a way, cheating is cheating. It's not that we gloss over the term by calling it the "violation of testing procedures," or the "violation of the rules of scholarship" when a paper is copied and turned in as one's own; renaming it just seems to define and codify the offense while pointing it out.

SCO: What are the benefits to students of signing and complying with the honor code other than avoiding punishment?
Wanner: On would hope that the students would be able to look inside themselves to see what their beliefs are with regards to academics. Agreeing with a Honor Code should bring a measure of peace to both the students and the faculty. One knows for what one stands.

SCO: Do you feel that the honor code demonstrates mutual trust between students and teachers?
Wanner: That should certainly be the main by-product: a mutual trust for both parties.

SCO: Usually guardians sign any contract given to students. Was there any thought behind giving the honor code only to the students?
Wanner: Although this point was raised in the formation of the code, it was seen as an agreement between the student and the school. Who best can say that he/she saw/read/ and understood the Honor Code but the student?

SCO: Do you think that student signatures an indication of student agreement with the policy?
Wanner: Hopefully

SCO: Do you think there are any moral issues with forcing students to sign something that they might not agree with?
Wanner: I would be very curious to see where the student might have a disagreement with the code.

SCO: Do you think students sign the honor code simply to avoid the penalty for not signing?
Wanner: Hopefully our school and the students' place in it means more than that.

SCO: If you were in a student ís position, would you sign this policy even if you did not agree with its implications?
Wanner: I cannot imagine being in the position of disagreeing with its implications and I cannot understand how a student could. Maybe I am missing something here but here is what I believe the Honor Code means in a nutshell: Everyone is doing his/her own work. I am competing for grades etc. with other students who have had the same instruction, teaching as I have had. If someone has an advantage(other than his/her own inner reserves or intelligence) doesn't that demean my efforts and weaken my grade in comparison to his/hers?

SCO: Was there a reason for distributing the honor code in the middle of the year?
Wanner: We actually have been working on the Honor Code for quite sometime, since the end of summer. It went through various revisions and when it was finally ready, we decided to hold it until second semester.

SCO: Are you pleased with the amount of student and teacher controversy the code has created?
Wanner: Since I am home, I am totally out of the loop as to the controversy, but let me say this about that. Disagreement and controversy are the cornerstones of a vibrant society and a good democracy. I just finished reading John Adams by David McCullough. Maybe I forgot the fact that the Constitution was not written in a night nor did it escape the vibrant and acrimonious debate that formed it into such a great document. I am not in any way putting the Honor Code on such a plane, but I am answering your question about debate and discussion. Whatever comes out of it can only make the document better. I would hope that a committee of teachers and students who are genuinely concerned with the topic can work together to see what developes. When Ms. McGinn and I spoke to the faculty concerning the Honor Code, we said that it was a first attempt and that we welcomed any and all suggestions that would follow. Hopefully, this dialogue will take place during these next few months and that a new and improved version can be made ready for inclusion in the students' planbook.

SCO: What do you feel is the reason for students disagreeing with the policy?
Wanner: I would be curious to know the answer.

All comments relating to the Honor Code have been assembled here.

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Annie Peirce. Annie Peirce is a senior in the Communications Arts Program and the public relations manager for Silver Chips. She is also an opinions editor for Silver Chips Online. She was born on October 25, 1984, in a hospital somewhere in Prince George's County; but doesn't … More »

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