102 students cast ballots on the honor system.  Of these, 92 supported the honor system and pledged to report any violations.  6 students supported the honor system but did not pledge to report. 3 students pledged to report if the honor system were adopted, but felt that the honor system was a mistake.  One student voted "no" on both questions.

To the students who voted "yes" and "yes": Thank you for your trust and commitment.  However, remember that voting is the easy part -- the hard part comes when you get stuck on an exam question and see your neighbor working away, or when you see a friend cheating and have to report it.  May you have the will power and moral courage to back up your votes with action.

To the students who voted "yes" and "no": Thank you for your honesty.  Nobody wants to be a snitch, and you won't pledge to be one.  But doesn't it depend on the severity of the crime?  It's immoral to hide a murderer and allow him to kill again, but it's not immoral to hide a friend's jaywalking (to take two extreme examples). I am not asking you to set aside your loyalty to your fellow students; I am asking you to treat cheating as such a serious crime that it overrides that loyalty.  Since you have not pledged, I can only ask, not insist.  Follow your conscience.

To the students who voted "no" and "yes": Thank you for your commitment to democracy.  You have pledged to support the system that the class has chosen, even though you believe it to be a mistake.

Finally, to the student who voted "no" and "no":  Thank you for your courage in staking out a lonely position.


Just over 60 years ago, a young man came to this country from Italy, fleeing the oppression of Mussolini and the Fascist Party. He had little money, knew little English and knew few people here, but he had high hopes of finding a home where he could live in freedom and dignity.

On his first day in New York, a friend took him to a boarding house, where he presented his identification papers to the clerk. The clerk said ``What do I want these for? You pay your money and you get your room.'' The man asked his friend to translate, but he already understood. He was in a land where even a stranger was trusted. He had found the first brick of his home.

Back in Italy the man had always taken shortcuts and looked for ways to beat the system. He felt no sense of guilt, as it was an accepted part of the game. In this country, he paid every penny of his taxes, returned extra change, and always strove to be worthy of the trust he received. Not only did this country give him a home, it made him a better man.

The mutual trust and honor that characterized the country my father found in 1939 has eroded. We no longer trust strangers - we demand Social Security numbers and photo IDs. ``Better safe than sorry'' has replaced ``innocent until proven guilty'' as the national slogan. At the same time, we no longer view dishonesty with horror, merely with annoyance.

This is wrong, and I hope that you will choose to do something about it, making this class a place where personal responsibility and mutual trust once again prevail.


On the first day of class, we will have a vote on whether to govern our class by an honor code.  If the vote passes, then on exam days I will not be checking IDs and looking over your shoulders.  Instead, you will simply be asked to sign a statement on each exam:

All work presented here is my own. I have neither given nor received, and will neither give nor receive, any unauthorized assistance in this exam.


1. I will neither give nor receive any unauthorized aid in any quiz or exam, nor represent another's work as my own.

2. I will report any violations of this Code to the Professor and to the TA.


For an honor system to work, however, you have to do more than just promise to be good.  You have to make the code your own.  You have to treat a violation of the code as something done to you, rather than something done to "the system" or to me.  And that, in turn, means being willing to report any violations you notice.  I am not asking you to snoop on each other -- having 120 policemen is 120 times worse than having one!  But each of you must refuse to be a silent accomplice to anybody else's cheating.

And so you will vote on two questions:

1.  Should this class be run on the honor system, based on the proposed Honor Code?

2.  If the honor system is adopted, do you pledge to report any incidents of cheating that you observe or become aware of?

3.   Do you have any additional comments?

I am confident that your conscience and your pride will prove to be far stronger deterrents to dishonesty than my policing could ever be.