News | Student Life

Engineering Student Council developing SEAS-specific honor code

  • HERE WE GO AGAIN | Siddhant Bhatt, SEAS '14 and the Engineering Student Council president, is collecting input from students and faculty before the new honor code comes to a vote.

After tabling the honor code resolution last year, the Engineering Student Council hopes to have a new resolution ready for a vote by the end of the semester. 

The new code would require undergraduates to sign a similar pledge to the one passed by Columbia College and the School of General Studies, but would be tailored specifically to apply to both graduate students and undergraduate students in integrated classes at the School of Engineering and Applied Science.

“The graduate school is very different from the undergraduate school ... so what is considered honorable or honorable coursework is just different, so it has to be very well laid out,” Tanya Shah, SEAS ’14 and ESC vice president of policy, said.

Columbia College Student Council and General Studies Student Council passed the honor code last April, but ESC decided to vote against the policy, arguing there was not sufficient student and administrator input for the resolution to pass.

“It is important to not rush the process and make sure the bases are covered,” Siddhant Bhatt, SEAS ’14 and ESC president, said, adding that ESC wants to ensure clarification between the stakeholders at every step of the process.

Bhatt added that the focus of this semester is to work closely with the Committee of Instruction to gather feedback from faculty members and get input from students. 

The new honor code will also have to be flexible to account for individual professors’ policies on collaborating and using external resources.

“That way there’s something really standardized for the engineering school—so it’s not like in one class the professor says one thing and you’re in another one and the rule is different,” Shah said. “That’s where a lot of students get tripped-up in terms of academic dishonesty. It’s not that they were intending to be dishonest, it’s that they didn’t realize the policies were different in two classes.”

The SEAS honor code will work in tandem with the Columbia College honor code, with both Columbia College and SEAS undergraduates saying the same pledge and signing the same paragraph for the general science classes taken by SEAS and CC students.

“The shortened form of the honor code they want to print on the blue booklets is the same for both of our schools,” Shah said. “The codified version is different, but they don’t have that anyway, so it’s not like we’re changing anything that they’ve done—it’s just adding to it.”

To some students, the asynchrony of the honor code between schools is illogical, but doesn’t undermine the integrity of tests. 

“I guess I find it pretty odd, because that’s just something I would expect all the colleges to have,” Darius Ansari, CC ’17. “It doesn’t really anger me or cause me to distrust the school’s academic integrity though, because I’m pretty sure it doesn’t mean that it’s just chill to cheat on tests with no repercussions.” 

ESC will also make an effort to reach out to the student body to create a culture based on the honor code, once they have heard feedback from all academic departments and have a solidified code.

“We’re excited to see an honor code coming into place, hopefully, which will have high impact compared to what we potentially could have passed last year,” Bhatt said.

Some students interviewed on Wednesday think the honor code could create a shift in the culture of SEAS.  

“Engineering students are really cutthroat, so it could help,” Leonard Abbrescia, SEAS ’15, said. 

Rana Hilal contributed reporting.

elizabeth.sedran@columbiaspectator.com  |  @ezactron

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