By a nearly unanimous vote, the honor system was approved.  One student supported the honor system but did not pledge to report, and commented "I don't believe in telling on other people or getting involved in their business".  One student voted "yes and no" on the honor code, would not pledge to report, and commented "I will not tell on others if they want to do so if it does not affect me".   All others voted "yes" and "yes".

To the students who voted "yes" and "yes": Thank you for your 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 two dissenters: Thank you for your honesty, and congratulations for having the courage to stake out a lonely position.  Since you did not pledge to report violations, I cannot insist that you do so.  May your conscience be your guide.

However, I must (respectfully!) respond to the dissenting comments.  When a social system is based on mutual trust and respect, rather than fear, then undermining that trust through dishonest behavior isn't just an offense against the authorities.  It's an attack on the social system itself, and against all its members.  That's not just "their business", and it does affect you.


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 had a vote on whether to govern our class by an honor code.  Since the vote passed, 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.