The Honor Code: Think About It

I sent out an all students email a few weeks ago about a movement to rethink, revise, and rewrite the Honor Code. Some things were left off from that email for the sake of brevity. I want to use this article to fill in any gaps and answer some common questions.

The idea to rethink the Honor Code started a month ago in CORe. Your class representatives felt that the Code had become stagnant. It is not that it is failing, or that the student body does not follow it, but that the student body as a whole does not feel ownership over the Code in the way that it once did.

Our Honor Code was drafted by the Olin Partners, and was intended to be a living document that reflected the values of Olin students. To reaffirm its relevance to Olin’s current student body, CORe wanted to start a discussion about rewriting the Honor Code.

The purpose of this discussion is to involve the student body in critically considering the Code, its efficacy, and its place in the community. If we go through an extensive process of discussion and ideation involving a large part of the community, and the consensus is that nothing should be changed, that is still a success. The primary purpose of this rethinking is simply to get the community passionate about the values we live by, and to make the Honor Code a larger part of our cultural identity.

Certainly, everyone does not agree the Honor Code should be rethought, but by and large, we have heard from members of the community that this is a process they wish to undertake. If you want your voice to be heard, come to one of the discussions during dinner this week. You can find us seated around the dining hall with heart-shaped signs reading “Honor Board Discussion.”
Scott Thomson proposed a sunset clause last week. The sunset clause states that if a new Honor Code is not ratified by April 26th, then the Honor Code will be abolished, and OSL will institute policies to deliver the same function. This is not meant to happen. No one wants the Honor Code to be abolished, meaning that the sunset clause will act as a motivator toward affecting change.

A town hall meeting is planned for Tuesday, May 1st, at which time the student body (you) will vote on this sunset clause. Even if the clause is not passed, we will work next year to rethink the Honor Code.

A definitive plan for the process next year will be discussed and presented at the beginning of next year, but the tentative plan is as follows:

At the beginning of the year, the student body will form a committee of students who will organize the rethinking process next year. This committee will facilitate discussions, ideation sessions, and one-on-one conversations with the student body. Before Thanksgiving, The committee will collate the ideas and work to formulate a version of the Honor Code which is consistent with the values of the community. This draft version will then be brought back to discussion, and reworked. Sometime in the spring, the new version of the Honor Code will be proposed, and the community will vote on it.

There are different ways that you can be involved in the rethinking, all of which is valuable. If you want to help organize things or hold discussions during what is left of this semester, you can contact Larissa or me.
However, you do not need to be organizing things in order to have an impact on this project. We want the whole to community to have a say in what shape this takes. Come to the discussions, come to the Town Hall on May 1st, talk about your views, and help us renew the Honor Code, and turn it into a living, meaningful reflection of who we are as a school. The Honor Code belongs to the entire Olin community, and the spirit of our effort depends on community involvement.

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