The Code of Honor
Honesty, respect, accountability, these are all words the honor code stands by, it’s a foundation on which academic integrity abides, and a line drawn between what’s right and wrong. The honor code in the movie School Ties meant more than just a signature one signed, it was a living entity, a guideline the school swore by, and those that broke the code met with the consequences.
?It is the students responsibility, not the teachers, to uphold St. Matthews honor code,? said the headmaster as he addressed the students gathered in the chapel for mass at St. Matthews. The headmaster understood the relevance of the code, and that the power was vested in the students to make it work for the entire student body. Another example of the honor code was when the history teacher addressed the class by asking the students to discuss among themselves who cheated on the recent test. He went on to strongly urged the class that overlooking the incident would be robbing them of the honor code. At the end of the movie the main character, David Green, takes the fall for Charles Dillon, the student who cheated. However, the headmaster finds out the truth from the prefect, Rip, and Dillon is expelled from school. As David leaves the headmasters office, the teacher reminds him, ?The honor code is a living thing, it can’t live in a vacuum.? St. Matthew’s knew how to fill the vacuum, but it was the students that lived it. A life not set by rules or regulations, but an internal drumbeat, marching to the beat of its own, honesty.
I have sincere doubts about the usefulness and the meaningfulness of the honor code, because addressing cheating requires more than just the honor code alone. Cheating is a problem in part because of the enormous pressure put on students by a school’s high-strung atmosphere to achieve. I think students feel that in order to survive, they must take advantage of the gray areas of being honest, often stretching the limits as to cheating and using someone else’s work. Therefore, any honor code implemented in such an environment will result in students changing cheating techniques to work around the code. I feel the best way to deal with this problem is to make students fully aware that cheating is unprofitable and nothing good come of it. Ultimately, the honor code works because it is fully enforced by the students themselves. As Mencken once said, For every complex problem there is a simple solution — and it is wrong. Solving the issue of dishonesty requires far more than just an honor code alone.