News | Academics

CCSC, SGA on board for unified honor pledge

  • Justin Chan for Spectator
    HIS HONOR | CCSC Academic Affairs Representative Steven Castellano, CC ’13, who spearheaded the resolution, discusses the proposal at the CCSC meeting Sunday.

Updated, 4/23 1:46 p.m.

First-years from all four undergraduate schools could be reciting an honor pledge during convocation as soon as next semester, and an honor code could be printed on Columbia blue books.

The Columbia College Student Council unanimously passed a resolution Sunday evening calling for an honor pledge and an honor code to promote academic integrity. Barnard’s Student Government Association passed a similar resolution Monday evening, and the Engineering Student Council passed a similar resolution last week. The General Studies Student Council is expected to pass a version of it Tuesday.

The resolution states that new students from all four undergraduate schools, including transfer students, will recite an honor pledge during convocation and at an inter-school event during the New Student Orientation Program. Current students will not need to recite the pledge, which would not need administrative approval before taking effect in the fall.

Students will pledge “to value the integrity of our ideas and the ideas of others through honestly presenting our work, respecting authorship, and striving not simply for answers but for understanding in the pursuit of our common scholastic goals,” the resolution states.

“We’re encouraging NSOP to plan a four-school event,” said CCSC Academic Affairs Representative Steven Castellano, CC ’13, who spearheaded the resolution.

Students will also sign the pledge during orientation and attend mandatory discussion sessions about academic integrity issues. The resolution allows students with religious or philosophical objections to choose not to pledge without punitive action.

CCSC and ESC also approved a separate honor code for Columbia College and the School of Engineering and Applied Science, in which students state that they will not “plagiarize, use unauthorized materials, or give or receive illegitimate help on assignments, papers, and examinations.” The code will be printed on all Columbia blue books, and professors could choose to make students sign it during exams and when turning in their work.

Barnard and the School of General Studies already have their own honor codes. The new code would not apply to Barnard, but it would apply to GS.

SGA approved the honor pledge part of the resolution Monday, while keeping Barnard’s honor code intact. The Barnard honor code “remains as tradition,” SGA President JungHee Hyun, BC ’13, said.

GSSC President Jennifer Wisdom, GS ’13, also predicted that GSSC would pass the honor pledge and code at Tuesday’s GSSC meeting.

GSSC “is dedicated to undergraduate four council integration as much as possible,” Wisdom said in an email. “Our policy team has been reviewing the resolution thoroughly, and even set up a separate meeting this week just for review.”

However, Wisdom said that because GS students already sign the school's honor code during orientation, there needs to be discussion with the GS administration “to make sure the policies and standards of our current honor code are in line with what we are proposing as the four undergrad councils.”

Across all schools, there will be a two-year pilot period for future council members to discuss and examine the policy.

“We do not decide for future years,” Castellano said. “Next year, they’ll vote again, and one year after that, they’ll vote again.”

The councils will also conduct straw polls of students in each school to gauge public support for the policy.

“I know that in my class, people have seen people cheating before,” CCSC President Karishma Habbu, CC ’13, said in an interview after her council's vote. “They’ve been really frustrated by it. I think that frustration causes a lot of stress, a lot of anxiety.”  

“This is what the students want,” she said.

The likelihood of all four councils approving the honor code is a milestone for the Academic Integrity Task Force, which has formulated and studied the proposal for more than a year.

“I am very happy that the council supported it, but I want to make sure it’s implemented in a way that is meaningful and transparent, and students are leading the initiatives still,” Castellano, a member of the task force, said.

The task force will be in charge of putting the honor code into practice by the start of next semester and in future semesters. Castellano said that the task force will continue outreach to professors, “especially because they’re putting it on the blue book.”

The honor code could have a big impact on the undergraduate schools, he said.

“Five years down the road, it will be definitely a distinctively different culture than we have now, if we continue leading this through the students,” he said.

Correction: Due to an editing error, an earlier version of this article said that the resolution CCSC passed was the same as the resolution ESC passed. While they are similar, they are not the same. Spectator regrets the error.

qiuyun.tan@columbiaspectator.com  |  @QiuyunTan

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Weese posted on

If this causes one person who was intending to cheat to not cheat, I'll be damned.

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Anonymous posted on

This is definitely a work in progress. As Steven said, if students continue leading this initiative, EVENTUALLY we can establish a change in culture through the renewed message of integrity with students and not OJA in charge, as was historically the case in the Ivy League. Also, though it's fun to be skeptical, I really see no reason not to support this.

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Anonymous posted on

Agreed, this idea is not well thought out. If you think an honor code would magically fix any cheating problem, then you are confused

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TaDa posted on

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-callahan/why-honor-codes-reduce-st_b_795898.html

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ugh posted on

Is this the fucking Boy Scouts? Is this middle school? It's the Ivy League, and if student's here don't have the sense to just not cheat, then they don't deserve to be here. It's that simple. I like that the undergraduate student councils all spent time they could have spent debating real issues and passing useful resolutions on passing this.

Now cheating will completely disappear!

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Anonymous posted on

Its because of all the cheating that goes on at Harvard and Princeton. This has never been a real issue at Columbia.

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Anonymous posted on

lol. not saying harvard isn't worse, but what school do you go to where cheating isn't a problem?

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Anonymous posted on

Barnard students already recite the honor code during Convocation. Why is SGA voting on this? How would this change anything?

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Anonymous posted on

Barnard students already recite the honor code during Convocation. Why is SGA voting on this? How would this change anything?

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Anonymous posted on

To have a common honor pledge across the four schools. This was a huge effort that should be commended.

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Anonymous posted on

There are lots of ways to try to prevent cheating on campus. A pointless, toothless honor code isn't one of them. I'm angry that this is how CCSC chooses to use their time and energy.

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Anonymous posted on

All the studies show that having an honor code printed on tests and recited, does help to make a difference to reduce cheating. Why would anyone be against this?

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Anonymous posted on

All the studies show that having an honor code printed on tests and recited, does help to make a difference to reduce cheating. Why would anyone be against this?

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trolling is fun posted on

Trolling is fun. It's too obvious for someone to actually comment and say they dislike cheating and the culture of copying answers, so the idiots reign supreme.

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Anonymous posted on

Fair enough. I agree with all these reasons;

I don't cheat and I'm offended; cheating is relative (I wouldn't feel bad about copying answers to compete against the rich kid with a tutor); it obligates students to snitch (terrible behavior in general but particularly bad for building community); it's a slippery slope towards an anti-drugs or anti-smoking code; it feels like pro-authority propaganda, especially if it's printed everywhere; it gives the bureaucracy more control over students, (a future KevSho will surely cite an honor code at some point); and, yes, it is a waste of time (not just this year but in years to come when councils and unelected bodies debate over tiny changes or drifts in meaning, as has come to pass in other schools).

It's not my fight but I couldn't be more against an "honor code." A possible decrease in cheating means nothing to me when compared to this expression of contempt for student voice.

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Anonymous posted on

your voice is contemptible

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Anonymous posted on

Is that the voice of "honor"?

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Anonymous posted on

You are incredibly dumb. Honor codes are led by students. It puts power in the students hands to eventually have a peer-led integrity system that doesn't require top-down punishment. The resolution also calls for more transparency. But 6/10 for specious arguments.

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Anonymous posted on

Dumb is believing that a self-imposed punishment is less effective or vicious than one imposed by an outside source.

Also...not requiring top-down punishment? You're going to exonerate plagiarism? And you think that philosophical permission to not sign or more transparency, as called for in the resolution, will make it to the final document? And even if they do, that Student Life will allow it in practice? Nope.

And talk about propaganda. Someone asked why people would oppose this, I posted some reasons, and you respond with insults. That's the blind devotion to an honor code that I thought made Columbia better than, say, Liberty University. Chanting an honor code in unison is creepy, creepy.

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Anonymous posted on

So your argument is that a student commitment to academic integrity will lead to more discussion about integrity among students (council and otherwise), more student awareness about judicial processes, the possibility of students holding peers accountable for integrity if they so desire, and possibly - in the worst case - more punishment for cheating? WOW! That is terrible!!! LESS CHEATING, AHHHH SAVE US!

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Anonymous posted on

Though I was initially skeptical, the reasons not to do this convinced me that this would be an effective policy. Thank you for pointing this out.

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Thank you! posted on

This is so necessary. I don't understand how we've gone 200 years without an honor code, but I am glad to finally have one and to start in the right direction of not have academic dishonesty be the implied way of dealing with stress.

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Yay! posted on

We're out of the stone ages.

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Anonymous posted on

WOW! Glad the councils came together on this, even BC!

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Anonymous posted on

This idea is not well thought out. If you think an honor code would magically fix any cheating problem, then you are confused

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Anonymous posted on

PrezBo will not enforce it. He has no spine.

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Anonymous posted on

People should look at the resolution. It actually has a lot of good substance about continued reinforcement. This is definitely a step in the right direction.

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Anonymous posted on

What a great year for CCSC: electronic waitlist system, P/D/F, WTF Columbia, Hackathon, and now an honor code! Hats off! I have some faith in student government now. Challenge on for next year, Daph!

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Anonymous posted on

Keep in mind that the honor code was a collaboration among all 4 schools, so props to ESC, GSSC, and SGA, as well.

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Anonymous posted on

collaboration here meaning that Steven Castellano (as usual) did all of the work and the other councils passed the resolution after he badgered them for months

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Anonymous posted on

THIS IS SO TRUE (save for WTF Columbia and Hackathon). Mad props to Steven. I can't even. Steven for effing Congress/Senate/Policymaker of the Universe

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SEAS '16 posted on

CCSC is so much better that ESC, and solves problems for Engineers better than the elected engineers do.

With the best interests of Engineers in mind,

SEAS Student

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Anonymous posted on

You're obviously misinformed. Please don't make generalizations that lack any basis.

- A SEAS Student who actually cares about SEAS

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SEAS '16 posted on

Am I obviously misinformed? Please don't make statements that lack any basis.

- A SEAS Student who cares about SEAS more than you

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Learn to Read posted on

SEAS passed this resolution first while CCSC was probably still debating about it. Seems they did a pretty good job.

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SEAS '16 posted on

Stay tuned. Breaking news is about to undermine your statement

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Anonymous posted on

Thanks Steve for all your work on this, the waitlist, and p/d/f! You will be missed on council.

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Anonymous posted on

This is the first policy passed that actually seems to make a difference. Lol that a task force had to study this idea for a whole year to implement, but I'm glad it got done.

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Ricardo Alatorre posted on

I am all for this honor code thing. Some studies show that it helps reduce cheating by creating a sense of community, and I don't see how it could possibly harm the student body.

Way to go, CCSC!

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Anonymous posted on

Altho I agree with this policy, it should be expected that students are honest, respectful, curious, upstanding.

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Anonymous posted on

can someone explain to me religious and/or philosophical reasons for not wanting to pledge to the honor code?

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Anonymous posted on

I think because it should already be implied and expected. People should not cheat, period. When you walk into a store, you expected not to steal. When you take a test, you are expected not to cheat. To reinforce this to ivy educated adults could be interpreted as embarrassing. Unfortunately, a few always spoil the freedoms for all.

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