Find answers to commonly asked questions regarding the Honor System.

What is a "complainant"?

A complainant is the person who brought a suspicious situation to the Honor Council. This person is usually a professor or a student, but anyone in the L.U. community can present evidence to the council.

What is a "respondent"?

The respondent is the student who is suspected of violating the Honor Code. This student responds to the allegations.

What is a typical violation? What is the most common violation?

Violations range from copying someone else's exam, to improper (or no) citation on a paper, to reporting observation hours that didn't occur. The most common violation is plagiarism of some sort, usually with either incorrect or no citation of sources.

What if I think someone cheated?

You can call or talk to any of the Honor Council members or the advisor without any obligation to turn anyone in or to start proceedings for a hearing. You could also talk with the instructor of the course, who could act on your behalf or request. After discussing your questions or concerns, you can request that we pursue an investigation into the situation; if you're not comfortable or if there is not enough evidence, then the conversation will go no further.

If a professor thinks someone plagiarized a paper, what does the professor do?

When a professor suspects a student of breaking the Honor Code in any way (plagiarism, cheating, copying, etc.), the professor should obtain evidence. In the case of a copied paper, the original sources are usually located. In the case of cheating, the reasons for the suspicion are identified. Once sufficient evidence is found, the professor contacts the Honor Council advisor to request a review of the evidence by the Honor Council advisor and chair. If the evidence suggests that a possible violation has occurred, then the process of contacting the student to arrange for a hearing or sanctioning conference begins.

What if I didn't know about a rule/the Honor Code?

Everyone at Lawrence has to sign a pledge at the beginning of their first year; therefore, everyone should know of the Honor Code. Ignorance is not an excuse. Basically, the Honor Code is just following honest academic work, not special rules just for Lawrence work or something out of the ordinary. If you don't know how to cite something, or if you're not sure if you can use a particular source on that exam, ask! It'll keep you out of trouble and save you a bit of worrying.

To what extent is intent considered during hearings/conferences?

Intent is not considered. If you're not sure how to cite something, ask a writing tutor, your professor, or consult an online resource such as Purdue OWL. If you're not sure whether you can use a particular source on a test or if you're allowed to work with other people on an assignment, ask your professor.

What is a "procedural advisor"?

When someone is accused of breaking the Honor Code, the respondent is assigned a procedural advisor. Just as the title implies, this Honor Council member will answer any questions on how proceedings during a sanctioning conference or hearing will go. The procedural advisor does not speak for the respondent or act as a lawyer for them. Instead, they are there to offer information about the process; they do not vote or participate in deliberations during the hearing or sanctioning conference.

What's a hearing like?

The Honor Council chair acts as a non-voting convener for the proceedings. Hearings begin with opening statements, where the respondent and complainant each present their account of what happened. Occasionally, witnesses are present to support the complainant or respondent. A panel of at least five council members listens to all the information and asks questions of the respondent, complainant, and witnesses. (This often takes several rounds of questioning.) After the Council is satisfied that it has heard and understood all of the evidence, the complainant and the respondent each make a closing statement. The Council then decides on whether a violation of the Code has occurred and, if so, what sanctions may be appropriate. A student may appeal the Honor Council's decision or sanction to the Provost within one week of receiving the communication of decision.

What is a sanctioning conference?

If the respondent admits to the violation before the hearing and it is the first violation, the respondent can request a sanctioning conference. This proceeding essentially skips the whole questioning process of a hearing and assigns the sanction after a verbal confession is given. Fewer people are present at a sanctioning conference: the honor council advisor (who convenes the conference), the complainant, the respondent, the procedural advisor, and two honor council members. It is less formal in format than a hearing. This conference does not lessen the sanction but is significantly shorter than the hearing process. Because the student and professor are given opportunities to reject or question the sanction during the proceedings, there is no option for appeal after the conference.

What are some possible sanctions?

Depending on the violation, a sanction can range from a warning (if no violation was found, but the respondent's actions were questionable), to a zero on the assignment, to a zero on the assignment and a letter-grade reduction in the overall course grade--to suspension and even expulsion. The Council occasionally assigns Educational sanctions, such as sessions at the Center for Academic Success to learn citation. Whatever the sanction, though, it is on precedent (a list of sanctions given in previous cases), and the Council works hard to ensure that similar violations are similarly sanctioned.

Why does the council record hearings and sanctioning conferences?

The audio-recording is used mostly for the record. We want to be sure who said exactly what and when they said it. During hearings and sanctioning conferences, we can use the recording to play back what was said during rounds of questioning. The recording can also be used by the Provost in the event a case is appealed.

What about mitigating circumstances?

Mitigating circumstances, such as personal problems or lots of stress, might be raised in discussing a violation and can be a factor during a hearing or sanctioning conference. The sanction, however, will most likely not be affected by such situations.

Does a violation go on my record?

Violations of the Honor Code, depending on the sanction, could appear on your student record. The specific reason for the violation does not. For example, any grade penalties will show on your transcript as the penalized grade.

Who knows about the hearing or sanctioning conference?

Obviously, people directly involved with the case will know: the respondent, the complainant, any witnesses involved in the proceedings, the Honor Council Advisor, and the council members involved in the hearing or sanctioning conference. Council members who are not directly involved in the case are not told the respondent's identity. In addition to the folks directly involved with the case, the faculty advisor to the Council also alerts the Dean of Academic Success, the Dean of Students, and the Athletics Director that the respondent has been contacted about an alleged violation by the Council; this is done purely so that these administrators are able to support and serve as a resource for the respondent.

How can I get on the council?

What a great question! In the spring, the Council will ask for nominations to fill the available openings. Faculty, staff, and students can recommend new members, and you can nominate yourself or other people. The Council will send applications to those people, who can fill them out if they so desire. The nominees will then be asked to participate in a "mock hearing" to get a better feel for what they may encounter. A selected group will be invited back for a short interview. The new members will be notified before the end of the year.