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The Honor System

Table of Contents:

I. The Honor Code and Introduction to the Honor System

II. History of the Honor Board

III. Administration of the Honor System Procedures of the Honor System

  1. Sanctions
  2. The Honor Process Carried Out by Faculty
  3. The Honor Process Through the Deans’ Office
  4. Honor Board Hearings
  5. Appeals

We, the students of Barnard College, resolve to uphold the honor of the College by refraining from every form of dishonesty in our academic life.  We consider it dishonest to ask for, give, or receive help in examinations or quizzes, to use any papers or books not authorized by the instructor in examinations, or to present others’ work as our own.  We consider it dishonest to remove without authorization, alter, or deface library and other academic materials.  We pledge to do all that is in our power to create a spirit of honesty and honor for its own sake.

Click here for a pdf version of the complete Honor System Booklet

I. Introduction

The Honor Code is a vital part of the Barnard community because it helps to shape the character of Barnard College.  The “Honor System” refers to the combination of the Honor Code, the Honor Board, and the members of the entire Barnard community who together strive toward building a community of academic integrity.

II. History of the Honor Board

The Honor Code:

  • Specifies the responsibilities of each student and serves as a protector of her rights in the academic community.  This is the primary role of the Honor Code.
  • Is based on a belief in the integrity of the individual student; when the integrity of one student fails, the whole Barnard community is affected.
  • Provides an environment where academic freedom and creativity may thrive.
  • Can function optimally only if followed by students as well as faculty.

The Honor Code was approved by student vote on January 9, 1912. Today, a century later, the Code continues to shape the distinctive culture of the College. Barnard students enrolled in Columbia courses are bound by the Code, as are Columbia students enrolled in Barnard courses.

Based on the recognition that academic integrity requires active commitment by all members of the community, the Honor System has evolved from focusing primarily on the responsibility of students to a system involving shared responsibility.

III. Administration of the Honor System

The Honor Board is responsible for administering the Honor System by developing and upholding the rules of procedure and educating the community about the Honor System.

A. Composition of the Honor Board

The Honor Board is composed of no fewer than eight, and no more than twelve, student members from the sophomore, junior and senior classes and up to three faculty members, all of whom have voting privileges. The student members select a student Chair and Co-Chair from among the most senior members.

Students apply for Honor Board membership in the spring semester. All applications are reviewed by current student members, and final decisions are made after interviews.  Three faculty members are appointed by the Faculty Governance and Procedures Committee for overlapping, two-year terms.

Students and faculty members who are selected to serve on the Board are expected to exhibit sensitivity, integrity, professionalism in their actions, and to respect privacy and confidentiality in this role.  The Dean of Studies (or designee) serves as adviser to the Board.  Regular attendance at meetings and a high level of involvement are requisite components of membership on the Honor Board.

A member who regularly fails to attend scheduled meetings and hearings or to meet any other Honor Board obligation will be contacted by either the Dean of Studies or the Chair of the Honor Board to encourage a higher level of participation.  If attendance or participation does not improve, however, the member may be dismissed from the Honor Board.

B. Responsibilities of the Honor Board

The Honor Board is responsible for developing and following its rules of procedure, in consultation with the adviser to the Board, and for educating the community about the Honor System.

To fulfill its educational role, the Honor Board:

  • Informs incoming students of the importance of the Honor Code and the Honor System at the convocations for incoming students.  
  • Holds discussions in First-Year English and First-Year Seminar classes to foster academic integrity and to provide examples of work that violates the Honor Code.
  • Asks students to sign a form before each exam that uses a Barnard blue book, acknowledging their commitment to the Honor Code. 
  • Communicates to faculty members the importance of expressing faculty members’ own expectations of academic integrity in coursework.
  • Expects faculty members to proctor examinations.
  • Strives to engage in dialogue with faculty members and the student body, while also working to continue campus discussion about the Honor System and its goals.
  • Offers campus programming to achieve increased awareness of the Honor System.
  • Serves as a resource on matters of academic integrity for community members.

IV. Procedures of the Honor System

The procedures of the Honor System are designed with these goals in mind:

  • The rights of students should be clearly defined at all stages of the disciplinary process.
  • The responsibilities of each member of the Honor System should be clearly defined.
  • Students should have specific rights of appeal.
  • Disciplinary charges should be resolved promptly.

Reports to the Dean of Studies regarding possible infractions can come from several sources, namely faculty, students, staff, and administrators. The procedures of the Honor System allow for the potential resolution of an allegation of dishonesty at several levels, and are depicted in the diagram below.

A thorough explanation of the diagram is provided in the following text.

Procedure of Honor System

 

A. Disciplinary Sanctions:

Sanctions include, but are not limited to:

  • Disciplinary warning:  this warning becomes part of the student record.  A warning indicates that any future violation will result in more severe sanctions.
  • Disciplinary probation:  probationary status is for a specified period of time, such as for a semester or through graduation.  While on disciplinary probation, a student may not serve as an officer in any student organization.
  • Suspension (with possibility of readmission):   when a suspension is imposed, a time period is specified indicating both the start and end of the suspension period.  While suspended a student may not participate in any student activities or programs and may not return to campus – including campus housing – without prior approval from the Dean of the College. The student must complete readmission requirements as indicated through the office of the Dean of Studies.
  • Expulsion (without possibility of readmission):   when a student is expelled, she is no longer eligible for readmission to Barnard.  The expulsion is part of the student record.

In addition, educational projects, follow up meetings, counseling referral, or other appropriate treatment or actions may be required.  This is consistent with the Honor Board’s goals of education, remediation, and support.

B. The Honor Process Carried Out By Faculty:

  1. The student is informed of the details of the allegation of violation of the Honor Code, is shown supporting evidence, and is provided opportunity to respond.
  2. The instructor may impose an academic sanction if the student accepts responsibility for the charge. Once responsibility is acknowledged, the student may neither retract the admission of responsibility nor obtain a hearing on the validity of the charge.
  3. The instructor may impose a sanction in consultation with the Dean of Studies- OR- as instructors have complete authority over grading, the instructor may impose a sanction involving grades without consulting the Dean of Studies. It is recommended that when an allegation is made at the end of a term, an incomplete grade be filed to allow the Honor System process to complete its course before a final grade is submitted. 
  4. The instructor may forward a letter detailing the facts of the case and the agreed-upon sanction to the Dean of Studies.
  5. The Dean of Studies may schedule a follow up meeting with the student to suggest appropriate counseling or assistance.
  6. If the student admits responsibility for the violation but disputes the sanction imposed by the instructor, the student may appeal the sanction to the Dean of Studies. The Dean of Studies may, at his or her discretion, modify the sanction of the instructor.
  7. If the student and faculty member cannot come to an agreement regarding responsibility for the violation of the Honor Code, the case is referred to the Dean of Studies.

Any and all appeals following the admission of responsibility are restricted to appeal of the sanction imposed.

C. The Honor Process Through Dean’s Discipline


  1. The instructor will submit information/evidence in support of the allegation to the Dean of Studies (or designee).
  2. The Dean of Studies (or designee) will contact the respondent (the student alleged to have  violated the Honor Code) and arrange a meeting, typically with the Class Dean, at which time the student is shown the evidence and given an opportunity to respond.
  3. If, based upon the available information as presented by the Dean, the student denies responsibility for the violation, disputes the allegation and/or is unable to resolve the allegation with the Dean, or requests to be heard before the Honor Board, the case is forwarded to the Board and will be scheduled for a hearing.
  4. If the student accepts the charge, thereby accepting responsibility for the violation, the Dean instructs the student that the student may resolve the case with the sanction(s) determined by the Dean, or may choose to have her case presented to the Honor Board to determine sanction(s). See section IV A for information regarding sanctions.
  5. If the Dean believes that the level of dishonesty requires suspension or expulsion, he or she may consult with the Board before coming to a final sanction determination.
  6. Following Dean’s Discipline, the decision is provided in writing and includes information regarding requesting an appeal.  See section IV E for appeals information.

A letter detailing the Dean’s actions is also forwarded to the instructor who initiated the allegation, if applicable.

D. Honor Board Hearings

1. Arranging a Hearing
Once a student contests a charge or requests sanction determination by the Board, the Dean (or designee) informs the Honor Board that a hearing will be required.  The Board, in consultation with the Dean, sets a date for the hearing, and the respondent is notified by e-mail of the date, time, and location of the hearing. The hearing may take place no sooner than four days nor more than thirty days after the date of the meeting notice letter unless all parties agree that a hearing shall be scheduled sooner.  Any delays in scheduling will be clearly communicated to all parties.

2. Pre-Hearing Procedures

a. Responsibilities of the Dean of Studies

At least three days prior to the scheduled hearing, the Dean of Studies (or Class Dean or designee) must inform the student of her rights pertaining to the hearing, including:

  • The right to review available evidence (information and documents) related to the case.
  • The right to request that the Board hear from witnesses who can provide relevant information related to the case.
  • The right to have an adviser from the Barnard community to provide support throughout the process.
  • The right to be informed about the general procedure of the hearing.
  • Her options for appeal (see section IV E).

In addition, the Dean shares any relevant documentation with the members of the Honor Board and with the respondent.  The student’s name and address do not appear on any documents.  The student must be provided with a list of the names of the current members of the Honor Board.  If the student has any concern about whether a particular Honor Board member should hear the case, she may express that concern to the Dean.  Based on this information, the Dean may request that the Board consider whether to exclude that member from the hearing.  The student and members of the Board are not to discuss the case with one another or with others outside of the hearing process.  Prior to the hearing, any questions regarding process or expectations should be directed to the Dean, Officer of Record, or Dean’s designee.

b. Responsibilities of the Honor Board

Before conducting a hearing, the Board receives material from the Dean detailing the alleged violation and relevant evidence.  All details of the case must be kept in the strictest confidence.  The evidence is reviewed by Board members prior to the hearing, and the review serves as the basis for any questioning by the Board during the hearing.

The Board also decides who will be summoned to participate, and informs potential witnesses of the hearing. (Character witnesses are not allowed during the hearing; however, if the respondent so requests, character witnesses may submit letters on behalf of the respondent.  Such letters are not considered in the determination of responsibility for violation(s) and should be limited to two.)

3.  Hearing Protocol

A quorum consisting of five voting members, of which student members are the majority, is needed for a hearing.  Additional Board members (up to four) may be present to observe as alternates (and for training purposes), but decision making is determined by the five Board members identified as serving in the given case. The final decision is made by the majority of the voting Board members.  In the unusual circumstance that five current members are unavailable, students or faculty members who served on the Board in the recent past may be called upon to constitute a quorum.

Hearings are limited to members of (or participating alternates to) the Board, the Officer of Record, and the respondent.  Those witnesses summoned to appear, or any others designated by the Board, participate as requested and are not present for the entirety of the hearing.  The Officer of Record, designated by the Dean of Studies, maintains a record of the hearing.

The respondent is allowed the support of an adviser, who must be a current member of the Barnard faculty, administration, staff, or student body.  Prior to the hearing, the respondent must inform the Dean of the name of the adviser.  The adviser may be present throughout the student’s appearance to provide support and speak with the respondent as needed, but the adviser may not address the Board and is not an active participant in the process.

All testimony at a hearing is audio-recorded to document the evidence relevant to a case.  The Board may use the recording to come to a decision or determine a sanction, or the recording may be forwarded for review in case of an appeal.  For a period of seven business days after the issuance of the Board’s decision, a respondent or the alleging instructor (if applicable) may listen to the recordings, by appointment, in the office of the Dean of Studies.

Although there is considerable flexibility in hearing procedures, the following paradigm is provided for guidance:

  • At the outset of the hearing, the Chair of the Honor Board reviews the details of the alleged violation and outlines how the hearing will proceed, in order to ensure that   all participants are clear on the procedure.
  • Typically, the information related to the alleged violation is presented first.  This may include presentation of information by the faculty member (if applicable) or may be information or evidence presented by the Honor Board Chair, from the hearing packet material.
  • If applicable, other witnesses, including those providing evidence on behalf of the respondent, are then provided the opportunity to present.  Witnesses are only in the hearing during their presentation. 
  • Finally, the respondent, who may be accompanied by her adviser from the Barnard community, is provided the opportunity to provide a brief statement in response to the available information and evidence.  The Board may then ask the respondent relevant questions.
  • After all participants have been heard, they may be recalled at the discretion of the Board.

4. Honor Board Determinations

The evidence is considered during deliberation after all witnesses have been heard.  During Board discussion, the five deciding members can review and discuss amongst themselves the information and evidence.  The majority of Board members must agree on a decision utilizing a more likely than not standard, meaning that based upon the available information related to the case, the Board will determine whether it is more likely than not that a violation of the Honor Code occurred.  Once a decision is determined, all members of the Board agree that this is the outcome of the Board.  The Dean of Studies does not vote, but as adviser, s/he may answer questions related to process, and is available should the Board wish to consult him or her.  If a student is found to be responsible for violation of the Honor Code, the Board will determine the appropriate sanction(s) within five business days of the end of the hearing.

Each case is considered individually. At a minimum, a student found responsible for any violation of the Honor Code will be placed on disciplinary warning.  If the respondent has any academic disciplinary history, her disciplinary status is shared with the Board only after a finding of responsibility, as prior history is a factor in determining sanction(s).  If a disciplinary warning was imposed for previous violations, further violations will likely lead to disciplinary probation, suspension, or expulsion. The Board may consult the Dean of Studies to determine an appropriate sanction.  Disciplinary sanctions are described above, in section IV A.

Any student who receives a disciplinary sanction, excluding a warning, becomes ineligible to run for or continue in any elected office for at least one year, meaning the two semesters following the situation’s resolution. This outcome is in effect following the period of appeal.  The graduation date of a student who receives disciplinary probation in her senior year is delayed if the end of the probationary period designated follows her completion of degree requirements.  Such disciplinary sanction(s) may be shared with organization, athletic, or academic program advisers, where deemed appropriate.

5. Post-hearing Procedures

The Officer of Record notifies the student and relevant parties by email within five business days of the Board’s determination.  Unless otherwise noted, only if the student is suspended or expelled do her parents receive a copy of the letter. If a student admits to or is found responsible for any violation of the Honor Code, a record of the violation is kept in a disciplinary file in the Office of the Dean of Studies for ten years from the student’s date of graduation.   Support of applications for transfer, graduate study or employment may be affected by a record of a student’s violation of the Honor Code.  Although the College will not voluntarily divulge information about disciplinary action, a direct question from a school or employer regarding a violation will be answered truthfully.

E. Appeals

Grounds and Timing for Appeals

An appeal request must be submitted in writing, detailing the reason for appeal, to the Dean of Studies within five business days of the date of the decision letter.  Instructions regarding a request for appeal will be provided with the decision and sanction information.

Students may appeal for three reasons:

  • The student may appeal if she feels that the process as described above was not followed, such that outcome was potentially impacted;
  • She may appeal if she finds there is available information that was not available at the time of the hearing, that may potentially impact outcome; or
  • She may accept responsibility and only appeal the appropriateness of the sanction.

If the Dean of Studies (or designee) determines that an appeal request meets one of the above criteria, an appeal request based upon process violations or new information will be referred for a new hearing.  Once it is determined that the case will be reheard, a review hearing is to be scheduled within thirty days.

If only the sanction decision is to be reviewed, the Dean of the College or her designee will review the case and make a final determination of sanction within ten business days of granting the review of sanction(s). 

Any appeal request that is reviewed may result in one of the following:

  • All findings and/or sanctions of the initial hearing will be upheld.
  • Findings and/or sanctions will be modified, which may include reducing, amending or enacting additional sanctions.

Nota Bene: These guidelines are subject to amendment from time to time at the discretion of the Honor Board and without prior notice.

Amended 2012

Barnard Resources and Academic Support Services

The mission of the Honor Board is to foster academic integrity through continual community building.  While the Honor Code articulates the overall goals of the College to provide a sound academic environment that promotes leadership in the classroom, our aim is to provide a close knit community in which respect for ideas is preserved and academic integrity may flourish.

As always, the Honor Board seeks greater interaction with the student body and welcomes inquiries and comments.  We are here for you as a peer resource that wishes to guide you through your academic journey.  You may reach us via our webpage (the address is below).  The following are some helpful campus resources that will support you in your time at Barnard.

Erica Jong Writing Center223 and 224 Barnard Hall, x48941
http://writing.barnard.edu/writing-fellows

Math Help Room
334 Milbank, x43577
http://math.barnard.edu/help

Tutoring Program
Dean of Studies Office
105Milbank, x42024
http://barnard.edu/dos/academic-support

Barnard Personal Librarian Program
http://library.barnard.edu/personal-librarians

Furman Counseling Services
First Floor Hewitt, x42092
http://barnard.edu/counseling

Office of Disability Services
105Hewitt, x44634
http://barnard.edu/disabilityservices

Barnard Primary Care Health Service
Lower Level Brooks, x42091
http://barnard.edu/primarycare

Your adviser and class dean are also valuable resources!
Meet with the Deans

Visit the Honor Board website:
http://barnard.edu/dos/honorcode