We Can Fix Cheating If We Can Strengthen the Honor Code Committee First


Cheating remains a significant problem here. From students up to the administration,  the community shares the responsibility for addressing it.

There is an obvious flaw in the way our Honor Code is enforced. It has failed to instil reverence in the student body. Kids feel they can sneak past the Honor Code. In fact they can. They may get quite a few things past some teachers before they can expect serious consequences.

Benedict’s operates on an honor system where each student is given multiple chances after his first transgression. The Rule of Benedict calls for at least three chances before serious punishment. Love it or hate it, this is the Benedictine way, a way that has been proven to work well in many instances.

The problem today is that students are hyper aware of this fact; because of this students can abuse the system. This problem isn’t the Benedictine system, it is a problem in the system’s execution. The good news is its easier to fix the execution of the system than the entire system.

It is up to the Honor Code committee to discern which punishments are warranted in accordance with the Benedictine way. The decisions of the Honor Code Committee must be respected by teachers and the administration; if they are not, then why have the committee at all. If students figure out that there is no communication between teachers, administrators and the committee, then they may well think they can get away with murder – or at least cheating.

One of the solutions to the violations of the Honor Code is fixing the Honor Code committee’s ability to administer punishments. As of now the Honor Code committee can only suggest punishments to teachers. It makes sense to link the administration and the Honor Code committee in some way. Maybe we don’t need an administrator on the committee, but all groups – faculty, administration and students – should be more closely linked.

Unfortunately, students will try to get the maximum reward out of minimal effort. In other words: they will try to cheat. Our moral compasses are designed to mature over the years; we should not be faulted for that. To encourage moral development in young people, boundaries and punishments (that are not easily dissected) are needed. Young people need stable and consistent rules and boundaries from all outlets to maximize moral growth and minimize cheating.