When I first arrived here at Virginia Tech this past summer, I quickly learned that the Honor Code had undergone recent reconstruction and evaluation. I heard from multiple instructors and professors that the new Honor Code was indeed an improvement. Apparently, in the past, the burden of proving academic dishonesty fell mostly upon the instructors (who had multiple other things to do obviously than reporting plagiarism and taking on the load of work to report a student). This new system delineates that burden of research and hearing cases to a board. This seems to make things easier on the instructor or the professor as well as the student. For example. the Honor Code is structured so that the terms are defined and the punishments are tiered according to the severity of the act. I think its useful that for less severe transgressions there is the Probation option of punishment. This educates the student not only in how serious academic dishonesty is, but also educates him or her in how to avoid committing the same mistake again. So, it reminds the student of the why and how, so to speak. While more severe punishments might be appropriate for certain acts, the new Honor Code’s Probation option takes into account unintentionality or carelessness on the part of the student and works to educate him or her in a less harsh and more beneficial manner, educating and rehabilitating certain students as opposed automatically expelling them every time. This is not to diminish the gravity of academic dishonesty because I do think students need to realize right away how serious a violation these types of actions are in the realm of academia —and the world for that matter.
I think the Honor Code and Constitution is communicated very well. We’re required to have links to the Honor Code in the syllabus so that the students are aware of its existence. As a graduate student, I think I was required to attend three separate talks on the Honor Code last semester alone; this makes me think that not being aware of the Honor Code is almost impossible for students here at Virginia Tech. I think its important, again, that the Code defines its terms, describing what Virginia Tech views as plagiarism, cheating, falsification, and academic sabotage, leaving little room for ignorance on the student’s part.