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Diver: Honor Principle Curtails Cheating

By Chris Lydgate '90 on September 05, 2012 10:17 AM

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Former Reed president Colin Diver wrote an op-ed in the Boston Globe this morning about the recent allegations that as many as 125 Harvard undergrads had cheated on a final exam last spring.

In contrast to the widespread lament that today's students have an iffy moral compass, Diver declares himself optimistic, based on his experience with Reed students and the Honor Principle:

Having served for the past decade as president of Reed College in Portland, Ore., I have seen that ambitious, competitive college students can exhibit academic integrity if the institution supports and honors it.

But instilling such a culture requires far more than superficial palliatives: it requires a whole set of interlocking institutional commitments that promote honorable behavior. The foundation for that culture at Reed College is called the "Honor Principle." At Reed, all members of the community — students, faculty, staff, and administrators — are directly accountable to their peers for the consequences of their behavior. In that spirit, examinations are not proctored; students are honor-bound to comply strictly with the instructor's rules regarding consultation of sources...

He also notes that Reed's small classes and deëmphasis on grades contribute to a campus culture that venerates academic integrity. Much timê to you, Colin.