In Response to: Honor-Code Conflict

I interview applicants and always discuss the Honor Code, still reciting it from memory after 43 years. I note the importance of exams, their length, their stress, the ability of students to get up and walk out without permission (there being no proctors), the tension, the silence as no one wants to be accused and no one wants to have to report someone else. I honor the Honor Code.

I then talk about how into the tension sometimes comes the counterbalance: “Without warning my fellow student stood upon his desk, ripped his exam into pieces, and screamed gibberish about the prof as two fellows in white coats burst into the room, carrying a stretcher and a straitjacket.” Or the time the custodians were banging metal trash cans outside the exam door, only to have the doors burst open and two fencers battle up the stairs, across the balcony, down the stairs, across the stage and out the doors, to a standing ovation from the amazed audience. 

I also note that papers need to be signed with the same oath and how plagiarism becomes scholarship by the use of quotes and footnotes, a lesson that few high schoolers really understand. I did not know the “death” penalty had been altered to one year; it’s probably good to have the option. Less than that requires extreme circumstances in my view. I was the person who had champagne delivered during an econ exam in ’74, but that’s another story. Any other exam memories would be appreciated.

Rich Seitz ’75
Manahawkin, N.J.