We're all born with honor, but that honor can easily be lost.
When someone lies, cheats or steals, they cast off a sense of honor. Once gone, it is incredibly hard and nearly impossible to earn back.
The physics students who were incriminated with violating an honor offense, mainly cheating, lost their aura of honor. They can no longer serve on the SCA, Honor Council or accept Cum Laude honors for this reason. Although they are still the same people, one cannot look at them the same when concerning loyalty.
The faculty and principals of this school have granted the students a great privilege concerning iPads. In a sense, it is like a parent letting their child use the family car to drive to and from a high school party. That parent has put faith into their children assuming that a sense of maturity has been reached. If that child misuses his newly found independence by driving more than one non-family member, driving intoxicated, driving over the speed limit, texting while driving or allowing passengers to distract them as they drive, accidents can occur. How long does it take for that parent to trust their child again and what punishment is sufficient enough to teach them a lesson?
When the students were brought before the Honor Council individually, each was punished with the standard punishments for first offenders: a letter of apology (in this case two letters) and a Saturday detention. If teachers are like the parents to these students, how can they continue to trust them after they misused their right to use iPads in an appropriate way?
While it was confirmed that honor violations occurred, the question haunts all those involved in the cases—who is to blame? Is it the student violators themselves? Or is it the technology that encouraged such a travesty?
If we're all born with honor then the students were the direct perpetrators of the cheating. Then it does not matter whether or not they used an iPad or sheet of paper; they still cheated on their own accord. It was their decision, and their decision alone.
However, it may have been more accessible to cheat with an iPad. While the headmaster thrives on the idea of the Willis Hall eventually becoming iPad use only, instead of traditional textbooks, can he trust his students with this independence? After all, the Internet is a temptation. With a test open on Safari, it is easy to open a new tab and search the Internet for help.
Even though all honor is lost once exiting the test, students seem to think it more of a border line violation. But one cannot assume that they have not been taught that this is an act of sin. The Honor Council has made multiple presentations and advisory discussions on what is honorable and what is not.
Unfortunately, there is not a simple solution. Cheating, lying and stealing have always occurred and will continue to occur, but perhaps we can reduce the cases and try to ingrain the importance of honor into the student body. When students are taking an exam on their iPads in a classroom, it should not be propped up, but flat on the desk. In this case, if a student looked at another’s test, it would be just like looking on a paper copy. The teacher or proctor should also walk around the room to supervise the testing. Then maybe it might not be so easy to open up a second tab. This is not to say that the cheating scandal is the faculty’s fault.
Honor cannot always be regained, but we have to try. If we just give up, then what will become of us? There is one obvious solution to end cheating in this particular case; dispose of the iPads as a testing tool. While this is an unrealistic goal, it is one to consider. However, no matter what the school decides to do, whether it is continuing to give us independence or stripping us of it, we have to remember what the lesson is from these honor cases. Even though honor is something you are born with, that doesn't necessarily mean it’s always with you. You have to maintain that loyalty, and not let it disappear.
If misfortune falls our way, we must work twice as hard to earn back that trust, and if we cannot win back our losses, then at least we know how hard we've tried to correct our mistakes. If readers stopped reading the Herald for every mistake we make, we would have to stop printing our issues. Everyone big and small makes mistakes, and it is important to learn from the past so we don't make them in the future.
Gracean Ratliff '23