Academic integrity and red tape
really have to pay attention to the culture that we set for the
students--not just the code itself, but the way it's communicated
Diana Robertson, Associate
Professor of Organization and Management
make the honor code and see if people want to buy into it. If they
don't, maybe Emory is not the right place for them."
Thomas D. Lancaster,
Associate Professor of Political Science and Chair of German Studies
Is dishonesty rampant on the Emory campus?
What happens with a faculty member falsifies data, plagiarizes,
or otherwise compromises the integrity of his or her research?
Exchange: Why do you think you were appointed to the
Committee on Academic Integrity?
Thomas D. Lancaster: I’m a product of Washington
and Lee University; it has an honor code and it works. I believe
very sincerely in the concept of honor and its part in the academic
community. And I believe that Emory is falling short when it comes
to the application of honor.
I was on the search committee for the Vice President of Campus Life
[John Ford]. I used being on that committee as an opportunity to
ask, every time a candidate came to Emory to interview for that
job, “What do you think about the honor code, and how does
an honor code apply to Emory?” I was very pleased to see that
John Ford was quite receptive to the idea that the honor code needs
to be addressed on the Emory campus. Because that kept being raised—I’m
not the only one who raised it—Ford clearly remembered that
once he hit campus. He apparently asked President Chace, “What
do we do about this?” I was glad to see that President Chace
AE: What is your opinion of the direction the
committee has taken so far?
TDL: For undergraduates there are two bodies at
Emory that affect their lives—campus life and the academic
side, the college. To me, there should not be this distinction regarding
issues of honor. As far as I’m concerned, honor should freely
flow between both. Chace made John Ford a vice-chair of this committee,
but then President Chace immediately shifted the focus of the committee
by saying this is only about academic issues. He shrunk honor down
to issues of plagiarism. But campus life generally isn’t involved
with the academic part of campus. They’re involved with fraternities,
sororities, the bookstore, that kind of thing. I think they should
be involved even more, especially with issues of honor. I have been
thoroughly disappointed with the committee’s general direction.
I’m not saying plagiarism isn’t important and doesn’t
need to be dealt with, but from my point of view, this is about
honor, and honor involves much more than academic integrity. When
a person steals a book, is that an academic issue, or is it a criminal
issue? To me it’s one and the same. Secondly, by fiat, the
graduate schools were simply lopped off of our discussions by President
Chace. So we’re not talking about honor at Emory; we’re
just talking about academic integrity amongst the Emory undergraduates.
I think we missed a grand opportunity.
AE: What do you think about the committee’s
TDL: The committee has just finished web surveys
of both undergraduates and faculty. Instead of taking a strong position
on what honor is, we’re doing surveys on what people think
honor is. I don’t believe that’s the right way to proceed.
Emory should decide what honor is to our community and then proceed
with it. We’re not going to develop a sense of honor without
that happening. Instead of President Chace saying, “Here’s
honor: don’t lie, cheat, or steal,” we spent almost
a year and a half doing touchy-feely interviews. Let’s make
the honor code and see if people want to buy into it. If they don’t,
maybe Emory is not the right place for them.
AE: What would you like to see happen with
the honor code?
TDL: I think Emory needs an honor code that deals
with conduct both in and out of the classroom. The one we have now
has many flaws, but more importantly, it’s not an honor code;
it’s about how to catch cheaters. I put a positive twist on
the idea of an honor code: it’s another way to teach people
to behave within a set of ethical
guidelines. I would rather catch someone cheating, have the student
feel guilty about a loss of honor, and let him or her go, than miss
the opportunity to teach someone about such important matters.
I believe that to pursue a truly broad-based notion of honor, and
get away from this limited notion of academic integrity, the Office
of Campus Life should be involved. Right now, the student conduct
code is not part of Emory College’s honor code. A student
can lie all he or she wants, and that won’t affect his or
her academic standing. I believe that campus life and the college
office should be together on this and be part of the judging process,
however it works out. I would like to see a code that says,“You
shall not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do.”