Honor Principle

Olde Reed History of Honor

In 1919, the constitution of the student body asserted that student conduct should be governed “by the application of the Honor Principle, which is based on the assumption that students will be guided...by their own knowledge of right and wrong .”

In 1963, the community senate approved a clarifying statement (in 1968 this statement was amended by inserting the word “unnecessary” before “embarrassment”): “Two kinds of behavior are...in violation of the Honor Principle: (1) Conduct which causes embarrassment, discomfort or injury to other individuals or to the community as a whole. (2) Conduct in violation of specific rules that have been developed over the years to meet special conditions in the community.”

In 1973, the faculty adopted a still more explicit statement:

“The members of the Reed College community believe that they should take upon themselves a responsibility for maintaining standards of conduct which ensure an atmosphere of honesty and mutual trust in their academic and social lives. Such standards of conduct rest upon a principle of honor rather than a constitutional system of right and law. This principle entails the unquestioned integrity of the individual in all areas of his intellectual activity, and a shared responsibility for enabling the college as a whole to achieve its highest aims as a community of scholarship and learning. The Honor Principle also demands the respectful concern of each person for the other, and the exercise of conscionable judgment in all actions toward individuals and their property. Let it be understood that such integrity, concern, and judgment are not simply matters of an individual’s intentions, but rather entail qualities of conduct which are clearly reflected in one’s actions. Although the college does not call upon its members to sign a pledge of honor, it does recognize the necessity for tacit agreement by all its members to support the Honor Principle by governing their own conduct in accordance with its spirit, by respecting regulations which the community has established, and by acting in a responsible manner toward honor violations which come to their attention. Members of the community should recognize their obligations to notify the Judicial Board of actions involving a breach of the Honor Principle, even though such actions may be their own.”

The current characterization of the Honor Principle follows in the footsteps of these earlier attempts to establish contem- porary “working” community guidelines, though by no means does it define the Honor Principle itself.

The full text of “The Honor Spirit” from the 1915 Reed College Annual can be found under “Essays on the Honor Principle.”