How academic integrity policies are at the core of Carolina schools

Vanessa Infanzon

Many students don’t realize that when they sign their college application form or their school admission acceptance, they are agreeing to uphold the school’s policies. The honor code or academic integrity policies are included.

Many high school students are not familiar with academic integrity policies and honor codes, which promote honesty, ethical behavior and following guidelines set for scholarly work. Here’s a quick guide to help explain them:

What is an honor code?

The honor code or the academic integrity policy is a statement or set of statements that explain the expectations a school has for its students.

Margaret Vienne, coordinator of student conduct and academic integrity at the University of South Carolina, said, “It gives students an academic standard to follow.”

It helps educators know what is permitted and not permitted at the school when it comes to academic work.

“It’s meant to lay the foundation for the integrity in their [students’] academics,” Vienne said.

Why is an honor code important?

An honor code sets the tone for what a school expects from its students. Tracy Moore has worked at Central Piedmont Community College for the past 20 years. In his current role as associate dean of education support services, he works with students who violate college policies.

He explained that when an academic dean confers degrees at graduation, he or she is ensuring that the students receiving a degree have done their own work.

“It’s the center of what colleges are about,” Moore said. “It affects the school’s integrity.”

What is an example of an honor code?

Every schools’ honor code statement is different, and with a simple site search, the policies may be found on the school’s website. Here are two samples:

“It is the responsibility of every student at the University of South Carolina to adhere steadfastly to truthfulness and to avoid dishonesty, fraud, or deceit of any type in connection with any academic program.” – University of South Carolina

“On my honor, I have neither given nor received unauthorized information regarding this work, I have followed and will continue to observe all regulations regarding it, and I am unaware of any violation of the Honor Code by others.” – Davidson College

How can I learn more about the honor code at my school?

Schools have many ways to teach new students about academic policies. At orientation, there may be a session to discuss expectations, rules and guidelines. Freshmen seminar classes, online tutorials, brochures, writing centers and academic integrity offices offer resources and hands-on assistance for students.

Some schools hold a special ceremony at the beginning of school or during orientation to mark the occasion by signing the honor code. Often a faculty member or student will explain how the honor code is part of the culture of the campus and explain why it’s the responsibility of each student to uphold the honor code.

What common mistakes do students make regarding the honor code?

Moore said some high school students practice plagiarism without knowing it, and it is the most common violation. Unfortunately, not knowing it’s a violation doesn’t mean the violation is dismissed.

“Plagiarism is using somebody else’s work and not citing them appropriately for it,” Moore said.

When students come to college, they find out that something they’ve always done, like copying and pasting from the Internet without properly citing the work, is an honor code violation.

Vienne noted that students sometimes violate academic integrity policies with unauthorized group work. They might share their papers with someone, and those papers or parts of them get copied or turned in as someone else’s work.

What happens when a student is accused of violating the honor code?

Once a student is reported as having violated an honor code policy, school faculty and staff get involved. Depending on the school, the violation may be handled by a peer review board, an academic dean, faculty or the academic integrity office.

Consequences range from a chance to redo the work to expulsion.


Vanessa Infanzon is a freelance writer based in Charlotte. In her former life, she worked in Student Life at Davidson College, UNC Charlotte and Queens University of Charlotte. Follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook @morethanVMI