People tend to point fingers in times of trouble or uncertainty. The recent alleged thefts at the Mods have disturbed many students and led them to point fingers at those involved. We are troubled by this story because it is expected that University students will not steal from each other. For this reason, we feel comfortable leaving our belongings unguarded around campus for extended periods of time. When a rare theft or other breach of trust does occur, a common defense mechanism it to distance ourselves from the accused perpetrators. It can be easy to see them as people who we share very little in common with in terms of values or ethics.
Yet in reality, when a couple of students decide to break the implicit community trust, it reflects on the campus community as a whole. As students at the University, we have a lot more in common than we may think. We all ended up here together, didn’t we? While we all have characteristics that define us as individuals, there are similar characteristics and principles that define us as an entire community. One of those principles is honesty, whether it be in our personal lives or our academic work. Students may be dishonest on occasion, but that does not mean that they don’t value moral decency in general.
Following these values, we need to make the University’s Academic Honor Code a more integral part of our daily lives in order to reflect our commitment to honesty. The Honor Code, adopted from Duke University’s Center for Academic Integrity, is designed around the core values of honesty, trust, fairness, respect and responsibility. Although it only consists of four brief statements on these values, it speaks volumes about how we should conduct ourselves in the classroom. Students should actually take the time to read the Honor Code and reflect on how the can incorporate it into their academics.
More importantly, the Honor Code should be expanded to our lives outside of the classroom and be made a more integral part of our daily lives in our commitment to morality. A good model to follow could be the University of Virginia’s Code of Honor. As the nation’s oldest student-run honor system, it has become a cornerstone of their institutional identity. Similarly, we need to make the five aforementioned values explicit parts of our daily lives on campus and beyond. We should celebrate the privilege of being a part of the University’s community by striving to be our best selves in everything we do in our time here.