Upholding the Honor Code at Agnes Scott
The ASC Decoded series seeks to explain the unique parts of Agnes Scott’s identity that students may have never heard of. Today, we cover Agnes Scott’s Honor Code and the history of the honor system at Agnes Scott.
As a member of the student body of Agnes Scott College, I consider myself bound by honor to develop and uphold high standards of honesty and behavior; to strive for full intellectual and moral stature; to realize my social and academic responsibility in the community. To attain these ideals, I do therefore accept this Honor System as my way of life.
Agnes Scott’s Honor System is a cornerstone of life at Agnes Scott, and it’s something that many students name as a key part of their Agnes Scott experience. Let’s take you through this tradition’s history, ideals and (it may be hard to believe!) benefits.
The concept of student honor has been a part of life at Agnes Scott since its inception in 1889, though it wasn’t strictly formalized as it is today. The 1924 student handbook identified the “Agnes Scott ideal” as one of character, hard work, and devotion. The 1944 handbook identified the Agnes Scott ideal including high educational attainment, including “the avoidance of shams and shortcuts and the maintenance of the honor system.” The current version of the Honor Code was created in 1948.
The history of the Honor Code has been deeply tied with student governance. The first version of the ASC Student Government Association was created in 1906, voted on by all members of the community and with executive committees for each class. Fun Fact: This means Agnes Scott had an SGA before the 19th amendment giving women the right to vote!
At first, SGA only had jurisdiction over dorm life, but it was given more power in 1923, and by 1928 had an SGA pledge that was a beta version of the Honor Code: “As a member of the Student Government Association of Agnes Scott College I take it as my personal responsibility to uphold the regulations of the Association and to live up to the spirit of the laws, not only in academic work, but in every phase of my college life.”
SGA changed its structure over the years, but has remained relatively unchanged since 1992, consisting of an Executive Board, General Body, Student Senate, InterOrganizational Council, Judicial Board and Honor Court.
The Agnes Scott SGA finalized the current honor system in 1970. The Honor Court is made up of a body of peers appointed to oversee the honor system process. The body is overseen by the Director of Student Integrity and Community Standards. All members of the Honor Court have training in restorative justice, conflict resolution, advocacy and investigation. If there is an incident report of students breaking the honor code, that case will go to the Honor Court. Students referred to Honor Court will be given advocates to help them through the process.
Chief Justice of the ASC Honor Court, Leila Reed ‘24, says that the process is key to life at Agnes Scott. “”The Honor Code and the entire Honor System at Agnes Scott is important because it is a restorative process rather than a punitive one that helps to assist Scotties in learning from their mistakes rather than being punished. It creates a system that promotes learning and growth. Because it is a student-lead process, students understand one another better and can be more helpful in the learning process. The Honor System keeps all students responsible and helps Scotties learn values like integrity that are important outside of the classroom. And who doesn’t love self-scheduled, non-proctored final exams!”
That last line highlights important information–keeping an honor system like Agnes Scott’s comes with benefits. Because professors and staff expect students to keep to the honor code, final exams at Agnes Scott are typically self-scheduled during exam week and non-proctored, so students have the option to choose when and how they take exams.
During Legacy: New Student Orientation, all incoming students will take part in their own Honor Code Signing ceremony. This important rite of passage symbolizes the welcoming of new classes into the Agnes Scott community, and their commitment to being a part of that community. It also symbolizes the close of official orientation activities.