The momentum to build a common undergraduate honor code and pledge last semester has ultimately been realized in only one school.
While a task force intended to explore academic integrity initially proposed the resolution for the honor code and pledge as a unified effort last semester, the undergraduate student councils remain divided.
For its part, the Columbia College Student Council successfully implemented the pledge—CC first-years were invited to recite and sign it, promising not to cheat or plagiarize on examinations or assignments.
The General Studies Student Council also passed a resolution supporting the pledge last semester, but GSSC President Hannah Germond, GS, said the council never intended to have GS first-years pledge.
Germond said that GS students have had their own honor code for years, which all incoming GS students sign during their orientation program. She said that the CC honor code will not replace the GS honor code.
Supporting the resolution, she said, was to show that the councils were united on the pledge.
“Academic integrity for GS students is very high on our list of reasons why we’re at a school like Columbia,” Germond said. “We come from various backgrounds where academic integrity and integrity overall is held in high regard. So supporting our peers and standing side by side with the other schools that chose to pass the resolution was really a way for us to say we want to present a unified front.”
Barnard also has an already-existing honor code, and passed a resolution supporting the pledge as well.
But the goal of a unified front was not met. After the proposal was presented to the Engineering Student Council, representatives on the council said that there had been a lack of administrative and student input. ESC first passed the proposal but then rescinded its support for the resolution, and now students in the School of Engineering and Applied Science do not have to sign the pledge.
Siddhant Bhatt, SEAS ’14 and president of ESC, said that there had not been sufficient dialogue with the Graduate Student Council last semester, so a vote would have been premature.
Bhatt said that most people outside of SEAS do not understand the structure of engineering classes: As a senior, there is a large population of graduate students in his classes, he said.
“A lot of the basic Core classes for the master’s programs students are what juniors and seniors at Columbia engineering are taking as part of their majors in the undergraduate program,” Bhatt said.
Because of the overlap between graduate and undergraduate students, Bhatt said that the GSC would have to support the academic honor code as well for it to be acceptable.
“It really makes no sense to pass an academic policy of this nature without in-depth discussions with the graduate school, and ensuring that faculty are onboard as well,” he said.
Despite the lack of support from ESC, CCSC is moving forward with its plans to implement the pledge for returning students. Nora Habboosh, CC ’14 and CCSC academic affairs representative, said that CCSC will give upperclassmen the opportunity to recite and sign the pledge just as first-years have done.
Habboosh said that the divided front affects the dialogue the student body has about academic integrity.
“We can approach the way we talk about community and our academic values better if it was something all schools were onboard with, but I think so far we’ve done a really great job with it for Columbia College,” she said. “When you have some of the student body doing that and not all of the students back, then there’s a gap there.”