By Victoria NeelyColumnist
Launched at the beginning of the semester, Hofstra’s new Honor Code has been the latest buzz around campus. President Stuart Rabinowitz explained that the code and its enforcing Honor Board are committed to “promoting, protecting and upholding academic integrity at Hofstra University.” It sounds all fine and dandy, but how effective will this new implementation really be?
After last year’s media blowup of cheating scandals at top universities such as Harvard, it comes as no surprise that a highly ranked university like ours would decide to explicitly dedicate and commit itself to academic integrity. In this case, Hofstra certainly has its head in the right place. But does anyone really believe that submitting an online pledge form and including the code on exams and assignments will actually make a difference in students’ academic integrity?
In the past two years that I have spent at Hofstra, every single syllabus issued in my classes has included a section on academic honesty. Most professors make it clear at the beginning that any instances of plagiarism or other forms of cheating must be reported and will be dealt with accordingly. Everyone knows that cheating is wrong. Even when students are in the middle of copying answers on a test, or buying a paper off of the Internet, they know that what they are doing is wrong. But in some eyes, college is a dog-eat-dog world, and many are willing to do anything they can just to get by, cheating included. In the end, those students are only cheating themselves.
While I do not disagree with the establishment of the Honor Code and Honor Board, I believe that this university has bigger fish to fry at the moment. If the creation of a task force to start a campus-wide conversation about academic integrity was so important, why don’t we start one about rising tuition costs? Rising food costs? Off campus safety? The availability of on campus employment? Unreliable campus shuttles? These things may not seem to be a priority to some campus officials, but they are not the ones paying thousands and thousands of dollars to attend this school. We are.
As adults pursuing an adult education at a respected university, we should be treated as such. Just because one student commits to a code, or signs off on the bottom of an essay to verify that it is indeed his or her own work, does not mean that all students will refrain from academic dishonesty. The point is, you can commit to something on paper, but you also have to commit within yourself.