Dean of the Faculty

Faculty Handbook

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I. E. HONOR PRINCIPLE

(Source: 2011-12 Reed College Catalog)

Since the college's founding, members of the Reed community have described the honor principle as one of the most important and distinctive features of the college. Its origins can be traced to the first class of Reed students, who "voted to relieve the faculty of the burden of enforcing honesty in … tests, and agreed to make it a 'point of honor' not to cheat in examinations." In 1973 the faculty adopted a more explicit statement about the honor principle that reconfirmed the community's statement about the honor principle that reconfirmed the community's responsibility for "maintaining standards of honesty and mutual trust in their academic and social lives…. The honor principle also demands the respectful concern of each person for the other, and exercise of conscionable judgment in all actions toward individuals and their property." This statement continues, "Although the colleges does not call upon its members to sign a pledge of honor, it does recognize the necessity for tacit agreement of all its members to support the honor principle by governing their own conduct in accordance with its spirit, [and] by respecting regulations which the community has established."

The preamble to the current community constitution applies to all students, faculty members, and staff members. It states, "We declare our commitment to responsible and honorable conduct in academic and community affairs, and we reaffirm one another's rights to freedom of inquiry and expression in coursework, scholarship, and the day-to-day life of the Reed community. Since such freedom requires an atmosphere of trust and mutual confidence, we further declare that dishonesty, intimidation, harassment, exploitation, and the use or threat of force are incompatible with the preservation of this freedom."

An honor council composed of equal numbers of students and members of the faculty and staff is responsible for educating members of the Reed community about the meaning and importance of the Honor Principle. Members of the various subcommittees of the honor council provide advice to those seeking resolution of grievances. The mediation subcommittee of the honor council oversees the process of formal mediation, including the provision of neutral third-party mediators. The community rights subcommittee may bring honor cases on behalf of the community when the community’s rights have been violated. A student judicial board has primary responsibility for adjudicating formal complaints against students.

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