Although the scene outside freshman convocation Thursday much resembled those of past years, the Class of 2006's signing of the Honor Code on the Chapel Quadrangle had a hint of irony this year.
By next fall, the Honor Code will be abandoned in exchange for the new Community Standard, a policy that bridges both social and academic integrity. The University decided to use this academic year as an education and training period for students, faculty and administrators to become comfortable with the new standard.
"Anytime you have something new, there is a transition between the old and the new and we didn't feel we could make that transition abruptly," said Vice Provost for Academic and Administrative Services Judith Ruderman, who chaired the Academic Integrity Council that created the new Community Standard.
One of the major changes under the new policy will be the requirement that a student who reports another's academic dishonesty must also provide his or her own name. Ruderman said the AIC recently decided not to mandate that these students appear as witnesses in subsequent judiciary hearings, a move that she said somewhat weakens the policy.
Freshmen who signed the Honor Code Thursday said they were unaware of the new Community Standard and thought it was strange that, in only a year, integrity on campus would be governed by a new policy. Most, however, said they would take the transition in stride.
"Things change all the time," Eric Tong said. "It's a good thing to update the honor code. Academic integrity is a very important part of the University's character."
"By signing the Honor Code, you have to stay true to yourself and not rely on others. You're making a commitment, and I think that commitment would still apply with the new code," he said.
Angelica Agishi welcomed the more demanding policy. "If you see academic dishonesty in play, you have the responsibility to go and speak up about it," she said.
Some, however, were not as receptive.
"It's a good idea, but I don't think students should have to rat out other students," said Becky Logsdon.
Honor Council Chair Sandeep Kishore, a junior, spoke to students during convocation and said afterward that the council will work with the AIC, students and faculty this year to help finalize elements of the Community Standard, including the dean's excuse policy and unproctored exams.
Get The Chronicle straight to your inbox
Signup for our editorially curated, weekly newsletter. Cancel at any time.
"We want to bridge the rift between faculty and students and forge a sense of honor and trust," Kishore said. "This year should be a year for students to really come out and really critique how to make the standard even more useful."