Each member of AsHmc is responsible for maintaining his or her integrity and the integrity of the college community in all academic matters and in all affairs concerning the community.

-- The HarveyMuddCollege Honor Code

The Honor Code is what we make of it.

At best, the honor code means that we can live together not by a rulebook but as a community based on mutual trust and respect. It means that we decide our own responsibilities to each other.

I got in trouble for an honor code violation once, but I have no arguments with the way it was handled. From the library's perspective, having us on the roof of HonnoldLibrary? certainly was a violation of the integrity of the community. (AriNieh)

From our point of view it was harmless fun, and that's an important point also. (someone else)

At worst, the honor code means that the rules are arbitrary, and that anyone can get in trouble at a whim. When this happens, you have no way of knowing whether you are breaking the honor code or why.

A particularly unpleasant example: a friend of mine did not return a take-home exam because she was dropping the class. She was found guilty of breaking the honor code and wrote a letter of apology to students-l. I was completely astounded when I heard this, because she had done absolutely nothing wrong (No, it wasn't one of those classes where past exams are kept secret). I thought the honor code was so that we'd have some trust in the Mudd community, not so that vindictive assholes could nail innocent people on technicalities. I believe very strongly in upholding the integrity of the community, but sometimes it seems like the honor code has little to do with that, and is just a more pleasant-sounding way of saying, "If you get caught doing anything we don't like, you get in trouble." (AriNieh)

To respond to Ari, the main reason that your friend got shanked was because faculty are beholden (supposedly) to the honor code as well. When the punishment was announced, many students thought that your friend got a raw deal, but many professors were upset that the punishment was not more harsh. -- PeterBoothe

Er, I still don't get it. The student in question didn't do anything wrong at all. Nowhere is it written or even implied that failing to return a take-home exam when you're dropping the class is an honor code violation -- and for something as non-obvious and arguable as that, she should at least have been told, "Please give the exam back now for no particular reason" instead of "Surprise! You've just broken the honor code by not returning some blank pieces of paper." That's complete and utter bullshit. Is there something I'm not getting? --AriNieh

The Honor Code and The Rules

Don't mix up the honor code with college policy in general. They overlap in subtle ways, but are not the same.

The Rules are under the DisciplinaryBoard?'s jurisdiction. Violations of the rules are not necessarily honor code violations. The honor code exists to protect community integrity. You can break college rules without breaking the honor code, if community trust is not at issue.

Does climbing on roofs, breaking into buildings, sneaking around inside walls and ceilings, etc. violate the integrity of the community?

It's illegal, and according to the student handbook, we're not supposed to be breaking any laws while we're here. On the other hand, there's the whole underage drinking thing, and I'm not going to have words on that subject except to say the general opinion is that so long as you know what you're doing and aren't being malicious (and don't get caught and aren't a DumbAss who only thinks they know what they're doing), it's all right. Though illegal, it is accepted by the community.

On the other hand, the doors are (cough) locked for a reason. Presumably, this reason is that the administration doesn't want students just wandering around in certain areas as a matter of course. They certainly fulfill that function. Whether or not wandering around occasionally on the roof violates that principle is a matter for debate.

Another point is that the administration clearly has some idea of what goes on, and at least some of them implicitly tolerate it. This year's YouKnowWhat (see ShamiksWackyBuddy) is a good example -- a few of us went and pulled down the first sign in broad daylight, while at the same time retrieving the Shamik dummy from Hixon Court where it had fallen. The sign was as visible to the administration and faculty as it was to the frosh; if they had wanted to expend any effort to determine who was responsible, it would not have been hard.

Another example. During the first SuperMovieNight? prank attempt, some students damaged a ceiling (see ThePyrosWhoDontDoAnything). We decided as a group not to self-report under the honor code, because we didn't feel that the damage was harmful to the community. The only members of the community to be affected would be FacilitiesAndMaintenance?, so we wrote and signed a letter to them taking responsibility, and asking to pay for the cost of repairs. (On the other hand, you could say that this was because we just didn't want to get in any real trouble.)

Contributions to this section have come from PeterBoothe, AndrewSchoonmaker, MattBrubeck and ManyOthers.

Notable honor code cases

Does the Honor Code make a difference?

I feel the Honor Code does not really make HarveyMuddCollege different from anywhere else. People who have integrity will attempt to follow both the letter and spirit of the law (as they see it; I do not expect everyone will agree on what is right and wrong), while those who do not will base their moral decisions on the probability of being caught. I think that while it is an excellent idea in principle, we must expect that in practice it will not make people here any different from elsewhere.

The major difference the honor code makes is that discipline is meted out by students as well the administration. This has good and bad aspects: I have heard of people getting away with fairly blatant violations of the honor code by knowing the JudicialBoard/DisciplinaryBoard? chairs. I have not specifically heard of the converse, but I would not be surprised if it happened. On the other hand, having students help decide HonorCode violations and punishments helps give perspective to the sentences, because students may understand better than the administration what really goes on, and prevents some of the friction of unjust sentences handed down from "on high." When unjust sentences are handed down under the honor code, at least we can do something about it besides begging the administration to rescind its decision, something that any bureaucracy is loathe to do. (CurtisVinson)

Look around at major universities and other schools, even the other ClaremontColleges. They restrict access to labs and dorms, have limits on paper for printing, have draconian "no bathroom trips during tests" type rules. Students are not allowed to throw parties. There is a reason that ~75% of students at most colleges live off-campus. On campus is stifling and awful. Say what you will about the oppressive administration, HMC is pretty good about not stifling us or preventing us from speaking. We can poster whatever we want, whenever we want, and except references to alcoholic parties, it's totally okay. Almost no other school allows that. Don't discount the honor code so quickly. (PeterBoothe)

Twenty-four hour access to all buildings is incredibly nice, and quite uncommon on colleges at large. Mudd does get some unique benefits from the community trust here.

I don't discount that other colleges might be worse. I just don't think it's because of the honor code. I think it's a combination of small size and the type of people who come to Mudd. Small size makes it easier to trust people. It makes people less inclined to do things that hurt the community, because they have a significant stake in that community. It reduces anonymity, which helps control random jerks who only do things because they know they can get away with it by hiding in the "herd."

As for people who come here, I don't believe that HMC students are any more or less moral than the general populace; this is what I meant when I said that the honor code does not make HarveyMuddCollege different from anywhere else. I do think that the students here care more about being educated, which makes them more inclined to respect college property and institutions, for fear of being caught and expelled if nothing else. This is not at all true at many colleges, where people may be forced to attend by their parents or general social expectations, and thus simply do not care. For much the same reason, I do not think there are large social groups at Mudd which view it as "cool" to destroy property or the like, while if such groups do not actively exist at other places, there are certainly large swathes of the population which have an entirely neutral attitude to academics.

The Honor Code is in this sense a formalization of the attitudes and community that already exist on this campus. The administration can permit liberal policies because they can trust that almost no students will abuse them, and we can deal with exceptions on a case by case basis. However, the honor code is not the reason we enjoy those privileges. The honor code is composed of words. They are well-meaning and noble-sounding words, but I believe that words only rarely change the way people act. The Honor Code will exist precisely as long as the administration, faculty, and students -- in other words, the HMC community -- decide to keep the spirit of the words. (CurtisVinson)

I know plenty of small, elitist schools that tried to implement an honor code, and couldn't because that the students there were not used to it and therefore ignored it. It does make a difference. ScrippsCollege tried to implement an honor code. They have since stopped that pretense. Go to other schools. Scripps has a theft problem. Now this seems innocuous at first, but realize that only Scripps students and their guests can get in the buildings. You see, it is students who are stealing. At least on Mudd it's townies. An HonorCode system can only get started with "noble words." Anecdotal evidence suggests that attatching an honor code midstream is futile. HMC was founded with an honor code, and that helps keep up the community standard since it has been there from the beginning. Saying that the standard would exist without the words is, in my opinion, ludicrous. (PeterBoothe)

As a (former) Scripps student, I can definitely attest to that. At Scripps I wouldn't leave anything worthwhile alone anywhere. One of the reasons that I enjoy spending my time at Mudd is that I feel like I don't need to be paranoid or worried about someone walking away with my stuff. At Scripps one of the most common locations for theft is actually the laundry where girls will steal eachother's clothing. At Mudd I have left my laptop sitting in the lounge for hours (sometimes even on a table rather than tucked away in a bag) while I was away doing other things and come back to find it right were I left it. I don't know if it's the code or the people that make this the case, but whoever it is, I have found that there is a significant difference in the level of trust within the Mudd community as compared to elsewhere. My guess would be that it is some mixture of both; people who come to Mudd are sometimes attracted by the honor code, people who have difficulty with the idea of an honor code sometimes make other college choices, and the honor code is influential enough in the campus environment that people may change their behavior because of the honor code's presence. From my teaching experience, this is reflective of some theories of classroom discipline in that some teachers choose to create discipline systems that use peer pressure to give students incentive to behave correctly and teach them to police themselves. It seems to work on the principle that most people will adhere to a fairly standard set of morals and their presence will put pressure on the few who do not adhere to this moral code and cause them to behave in a proper manner.

As a current Scrippsie, I'll second that. There is absolutely no responsibility or integrity at Scripps (as a whole). Our student handbook has 62 pages of rules, backed up with fines and punishments, including ridiculous stuff like where you can and can't pick flowers or a $50 fine for propping a door open. And they're rabidly enforced: the escort policy is a proverbial example (I've had boys get nabbed on their way out and sent back to my room.) The result is that nobody has any scruples about doing things if they aren't going to get caught or if the rules aren't enforced--regardless of how annoying they are to other people. Examples:
Also, remember that Mudd students actually have a say in determining college policy, while the Scripps administration determines all the rules without any student input. Appreciate your honor code, guys. --ColleenSullivan
Actually a lot of the rules at Scripps are the result of student input, I know the escort policy has come up for student vote several times, at least once in the last couple of years, and the students always vote to keep it as is. And I believe there was an alcohol policy committee last year although I don't know what happened to it. Perhaps the real problem is a lack of trust between students that results in the desire for strict rules, which are then not enforced, which results in less trust between students and the administration.

Similarly, Carleton has no honor code, but people leave (expensive) things around all the time, and they don't get stolen. Things getting stolen (or not) is more a result of which students attend the school than of any honor code (or lack thereof).-- SkyeBerghel

I disagree with this opinion. I think that the atmosphere of Mudd arises from the people more than the Honor Code itself. As an example, I quote my high school, Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson had a culture similar to Mudd; teachers felt perfectly safe in leaving the classroom during a test for a few minutes, knowing the students wouldn't cheat, and didn't bother to lock their doors when no one was in. Students would leave their belongings on top of lockers, including hundred-dollar calculators and other expensive goods, and no one would steal them (like Mudd, except without the random people wandering through). This was all in a public high school, (though it was a magnate school, meaning it had an entrance exam), which was about twice the size of Mudd. The telling point, however, is that my high school lacked an honor code. This state of affairs arose entirely out of the fact that the people attending the school already had a strong sense of honor, which meant that they wouldn't steal or cheat, even without an honor code.

Technically, an honor code was implemented in the last year I was at Jefferson. However, it was a joke. The wildly known purpose of the honor code was to reassure the Ivy Leagues that we did not cheat, since, because the school had few other problems, many alumni had labeled cheating as the biggest problem at the school in surveys. (Apparently, the surveys didn't have a 'no major problems' option). In other words, it was for the colleges' sake, not the students. It's the people who determine the behavior, not as much the honor code. This means that implementing an honor code to attempt to remedy a lack of honor has a high probability of failure, as mentioned above, because for the students to be most receptive to it, they must already act the way they would under the code, which would make it unnecessary for the purpose of reform. It is the students who, to a large part, determine the success of the code, not the code itself. (KevinBergemann)

The Honor Code and The Law

So. Where do software piracy, music piracy and underage drinking fall in this mess? (Those were the three most common crimes I could think of at Mudd.) -- AriNieh

Monologue from the 1998 LookBook on this topic:

"...the Honor Code is there to protect the community here at Mudd, not to make sure people follow every rule on the books. Most people here believe that underage drinking doesn't really hurt the community if people do it responsibly, and irresponsible drinking is a bad thing whether the drinker is of age or not. Of course, the school's official position must necessarily be in accordance with all state, federal, and local laws, but unless people really screw up and somebody winds up in the hospital or something, nobody is going to say anything if you drink here before you're twenty-one. It's all a matter of accepting additional personal responsibility in exchange for greater freedom."

An interesting perspective, I think, even if I'm not sure whether it's "right" (whatever the hell that means; mmmm, moral relativism). -- (somebody else)

Generally cases where people have different ideas about the relative morality of the actions have a bit of leeway (since they mostly fall under the category of "why would that be against the Honor code?"). I consider myself a fairly moral person, but I will occasionally stoop to pirating music or software. I don't do it as much as many people I know, and generally I only get music that I've heard incessantly on the radio or MTV anyway and could've just recorded it myself. Software I don't pirate very much (growing up working for a computer game company has given me much more respect for that sort of thing. People are stealing from the CS majors when they're copying cds), but I will occasionally to see if the game/software is even worth playing (I burned a copy of Starcraft to play for two weeks, then bought the actual game because I liked it). Music piracy's even going through a national debate on the legality of it, so this is an interesting topic even there. I doubt many conclusions will be reached on this, myself. -- BrianRoney

Why do people violate the Honor Code?

In explaining the honor code to some PreFrosh, I said that most people break the honor code because they don't realize that they are in violation of it. Is that true, or am I a liar? (JohnWalseth)

I personally have heard of three kinds of cases in about equal frequency: people who do things which are quite deliberate violations of the honor code, people who don't think through the consequences of their actions and violate the Honor Code, and people who do things which fall in gray areas or violate rules they don't know about. I don't know whether these actually occur with equal frequency, never having served on the JudiciaryBoard? or DisciplinaryBoard?. (CurtisVinson)

I'm pretty sure that if I've ever broken the Honor Code, it was because I didn't know it was a violation of the Honor Code. However, if those actions were against the Honor Code, I probably would have still broken it. My personal moral code happens to match up fairly well with the Honor Code (that's another thing the Honor Code does for Mudd. It attracts people that like Honor Codes. I know I was influenced by a story of a person leaving a pair of rollerblades outside of Olin and having them still be there several days later). (BrianRoney)

I miss the HarveyMuddCollege HonorCode (or the moral atmosphere which makes it appear to be unnecessary, or both) :(. In the outside world, even in "academia," which we place on a supposed pedestal, people bite, scratch, and do lots of things to each other that would not pass the NewspaperTest?.
-- DavidLiao (2012 May 12 20h28? PDT)

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