Winter has come, which at Duke can mean only one thing—it’s finals season.

With reading period beginning in a week’s time, Duke Libraries are hard at work preparing for the single largest student gathering on campus (outside of K-Ville, of course). Whether you’re searching for the perfect study spot in the stacks, or looking to take a study break in Vondy, we invite you to come check out the newest addition to the library exhibit wall on the first floor of Perkins, featuring a history of honor at Duke.

We’ve talked a lot about honor this semester—explaining what the Community Standard is, the gray areas in current policies, and how all of us can contribute to the culture of integrity on campus. And during final exams, you’ll be reminded of honor yet again, when you sign the Community Standard at the top of each test you take. But while honor has always been a fundamental value at Duke, honor codes are a relatively new innovation. We hope our exhibit can shed light on how students past and present have played a role in shaping campus norms.

Honor systems have existed in one form or another since Duke’s formal founding in 1924, but they were largely informal and lacked institutional backing. The impetus for change actually came from the Women’s Student Government, which began a dialogue about “academic and social integrity” in 1957. The student leader of this movement was Liddy Hanford, who spearheaded a coalition between the Men’s Student Government and university leaders to present a new honor system, which was implemented in 1959. Liddy Hanford is known to most of us as Elizabeth Dole—the Duke alumna who served as the first female Senator from North Carolina.

But alas, honor systems are nothing without community buy-in, and the lack of infrastructure for integrity caused campus to literally veto the honor code in 1965. Honor remained dormant until Terry Sanford exhorted the student body to give Duke’s “outrageous ambition” a moral compass. This manifested in the form of an “honor commitment”, which was passed in 1982. The commitment is notable for bifurcating integrity into “honor” (preventative) and “judicial” (reactive). This model was upheld in the 1993 Duke Honor Code, which became the basis for the Community Standard a decade later.

To be clear, the presence—or lack thereof—of an honor code didn’t make cheating okay. Academic dishonesty (when caught) was still punished. So why the focus on honor systems and community standards? Why have generations of Duke students and even Duke Presidents dedicated so much social and political energy to trying to get it right?

Because conduct is about consequences—whereas codes are about community.

President Keohane took the first step at the turn of the millennium, candidly releasing data about the state of integrity on campus to start discussions about what honor means at Duke. The discussion continued with the ratification of the Community Standard, and was furthered by the 2007 referendum which added a third pillar to the Standard: that we will “act if the Standard is compromised.” A decade later, the conversation continues, with each of us contributing something new during our time in the Gothic Wonderland.

We hope that our exhibit, which will go live during reading period, can add to this tradition, while provoking some thought and conversation. If you’re looking for a place to talk, head to Vondy. We’ll be giving out thermoses with the Community Standard and sponsoring a free cup of coffee for a “fill up for finals.” If you’re looking for help, check out the Academic Resource Center, or give any of us a call. Honor begins with each of us, and is especially important this time of year. Like President Keohane once said, “be mindful of the trust that your peers and professors have placed in you. You worked too hard to get into to Duke to cheapen your efforts, and so did they.”

Best of luck with the last week of classes, and with exams beyond that. We look forward to continuing this conversation in the spring and beyond.

Duke Honor Council's column runs on alternate Fridays.