The Honor System
The Honor Code Applied to Preparation of Papers /
Tests, Examinations, and Other Exercises /
of the Individual Student /
Undergraduate Honor Council /
Honor Pledge /
Student Advisers of Undergraduate Honor Council /
Faculty Advisers to Undergraduate Honor Council /
Procedures of the Vanderbilt Honor Council /
Withdrawal from the University before Hearing /
Discretion and Disqualification of Council Members /
Undergraduate Honor Council Constitution /
All students are required
to acquaint themselves with the provisions of the Honor System through
the information in this Handbook.
Students may obtain further information from the dean of each school,
from The Honor Council President at Vanderbilt University, VU Station
B #351601, Nashville, TN 37235, telephone (615) 322-3056, from the Honor
Council Web site, or from The Honor Council adviser. Graduate and
professional students may obtain information from the office of the dean
of their school or college.
Undergraduate students are subject to the jurisdiction of the Undergraduate
Honor Council. The policies and procedures of the undergraduate Honor
System stated in this Student Handbook
apply to all students enrolled in undergraduate courses of all the schools
and the Division of Unclassified Studies, whether full-time or part-time,
or whether regularly enrolled, transients, or cross-registered from a
Graduate and professional students are subject to the jurisdiction of
the student body that implements the Honor System in the graduate and
professional schoolsSchool of Graduate Studies Honor Council, Student
Honor Council of the School of Medicine, Honor Council of the Law School,
Divinity School Honor Council, Honor Council of the School of Nursing,
Owen Graduate School of Management Honor Council, and Peabody Honor Council
(for students in professional programs at Peabody College). Graduate and
professional students must check with their individual schools or advisers
for further regulations beyond procedures cited in this Handbook,
which may affect their studies and observances of Honor Codes.
The Vanderbilt Honor System was instituted in 1875 with the first final
examinations administered by the University. A studentís personal integrity
then, as now, was presumed to be sufficient assurance that in academic
matters one did oneís own work without unauthorized help from any other
source. The Honor System is only one of the elements provided to Vanderbilt
students with which each may develop creative thinking and intellectual
maturity in a fair and balanced grading environment.
The Honor System presumes that all work submitted as part of academic
requirements is the product of the student submitting it unless credit
is given with proper footnoting and bibliographic techniques, or as prescribed
by the course instructor.
When a student makes use of concepts or words from an outside source,
whether in the form of a direct quotation or of paraphrase, credit must
be given to the original source for each idea by footnote or other technique
acceptable to the instructor. Failure to make such an acknowledgment constitutes
plagiarism. (A comprehensive explanation of plagiarism is given under
the heading "The Honor Code Applied to Preparation of Papers.")
Faculty members do not routinely monitor tests and examinations to apprehend
violators. Instructors who remain in examination rooms are there primarily
to give assistance.
Students are responsible for obtaining from their professors an
explanation of the freedom they may exercise in collaboration with other
students or in use of outside sources, including the studentís own work
prepared and submitted for another course, during group study sessions,
and in take-home examinations. In the event that a student does not
obtain a clear definition of the application of the Honor Code from a
professor in any class, the student must assume that The Honor Council
will follow the strictest interpretation of the Honor Code with respect
to that class.
Cheating, plagiarizing, or otherwise falsifying results of study is prohibited.
The System applies not only to examinations, but also to all work handed
in, such as papers, reports, solutions to problems, tapes, films, and
computer programs, unless excepted by the instructor.
Back to top
of the Honor Code are cause for disciplinary actions imposed by the appropriate
The following are included as violations:
ïFalsifying or cheating on a report, paper, exercise, problem,
test or examination, tape, film, or computer program submitted by a student
to meet course requirements. Cheating includes the use of unauthorized
aids (such as crib sheets, discarded computer programs, the aid of another
person on a take-home exam, etc.); copying from another studentís work;
soliciting, giving, and/or receiving unauthorized aid orally or in writing;
or similar action contrary to the principles of academic honesty.
ï Plagiarism on an assigned paper, theme, report, or other material
submitted to meet course requirements. Plagiarism is defined as incorporating
into oneís own work the work of another without properly indicating that
urce. A full description of plagiarism is given in the section below.
ï Failure to report a known or suspected violation of the Code
in the manner prescribed.
ï Any action designed to deceive a member of the faculty, a staff
member, or a fellow student regarding principles contained in the Honor
Code, such as securing an answer to a problem for one course from a faculty
member in another course when such assistance has not been authorized.
ï Submission of work prepared for another course without specific
prior authorization of the instructors in both courses.
ï Use of texts or papers prepared by commercial or noncommercial agents
and submitted as a studentís own work.
ï Falsification of results of study and research.
Back to top
HONOR CODE APPLIED TO PREPARATION OF PAPERS
ï Papers are to express the
original thoughts of the student. If a topic for a paper has been discussed
fully among students prior to an assignment, then the students should
consult the instructor about writing on that particular topic.
ï Failure to indicate the source of ideas, expressions, phrases, or sentences
ï A student may not submit papers substantially the same in content for
credit in more than one course, without specific and prior permission
of all instructors concerned.
Students often have trouble distinguishing between privileged information
and common knowledge. An idea may be considered common knowledge if it
is encountered at least three times in separate sources during oneís research
into a particular subject. (Reprints of one source do not constitute separate
Students should realize that an act of plagiarism may include some
degree of premeditation or may be the result of carelessness or ignorance
of acceptable forms for citation; the act is plagiarism in any case and
is a violation of the Honor Code. Students, therefore, must be conscious
of their responsibilities as scholars under the Honor System, to learn
to discern what is included in plagiarism as well as in other breaches
of the Honor Code, and must know and practice the specifications for citations
in scholarly work. The following examples illustrate the kinds of problems
that can arise.
A student turned in a paper with the following paragraph:
"The characters in Othello are both allegorical and realistic at
once. Characters like Iago and Desdemona are recognizable both as persons
and at the same time devils, demigods and forces in nature. It is Shakespeareís
achievement as an artist that he is capable of creating visions of life
as people live it at the same time that he is able to understand life
in terms of social and cosmic symbols. In this paper I will discuss the
allegorical elements in the play, the skeleton of ideas and actions with
which the characters give meaning to the play."
The instructor gave the paper to The Honor Council, citing this paragraph
as evidence of plagiarism. The instructor presented the following paragraph
from Introduction to "The Tragedy of Othello" by William Shakespeare,
edited by Alvin Kernan. Copyright © 1963 by Alvin Kernan.
"Here is the essence of Shakespeareís art, an ability to create immediate,
full and total life as men actually live and experience it; and yet at
the same time to arrange this reality so that it gives substance to and
derives shape from a formal vision of all life that comprehends and reaches
back from man and nature through society and history to cosmic powers
that operate through all time and space. His plays are both allegorical
and realistic at once; his characters both recognizable men and at the
same time devils, demigods and forces in nature. I have discussed only
the more allegorical elements in Othello, the skeleton of ideas and formal
patterns within which the characters must necessarily be understood. But
it is equally true that the exact qualities of the abstract moral value
and ideas, their full reality, exist only in the characters."
The instructor delineated four examples of plagiarism:
(1) A change in wording:
STUDENT: The characters
in Othello are both allegorical and realistic at once. Characters
like Iago and Desdemona are recognizable both as persons and at the same
time, demigods, devils and forces in nature.
KERNAN: His plays are both allegorical and realistic at once; his characters
both recognizable as men and at the same time devils, demigods and forces
The instructor explained that
this is plagiarism because the ideas presented in both cases are the same,
with the student adding only a few of his own words to alter Kernanís
(2) Use of a catchy word or phrase:
STUDENT: In this paper
I will discuss the allegorical elements in the play, the skeleton of ideas
and actions with which the characters give meaning to the play.
KERNAN: I have discussed only the more allegorical elements in the play,
the skeleton of ideas and formal patterns within which the characters
must necessarily be understood.
The instructor stated that this sentence constitutes plagiarism because
the student used the catchy phrase "the skeleton of ideas."
Again, the student retains Kernanís phrase and his ideas, changing only
some of the wording.
(3) Undocumented paraphrasing:
STUDENT: It is Shakespeareís
achievement as an artist that he is capable of creating visions of life
as people live it at the same time that he is able to understand life
in terms of social and cosmic symbols.
KERNAN: Here is the essence of Shakespeareís art, an ability to create
immediate, full and total life as men actually live and experience it;
and yet at the same time to arrange this reality so that it gives substance
to and derives shape from a formal vision of all life that comprehends
and reaches back from man and nature through society and history to cosmic
powers that operate through all time and space.
This, the instructor said, was paraphrasing, and unless acknowledged,
it is also an act of plagiarism. Students must clearly indicate each use
of paraphrasing with a footnote or a reference technique suitable to the
(4) Word-for-word copying:
STUDENT: ...are both
allegorical and realistic at once...recognizable...devils, demigods and
forces in nature...the allegorical elements in the play, the skeleton
of ideas ...
KERNAN: ...are both allegorical and realistic at once...recognizable...devils,
demigods and forces in nature...the allegorical elements...the skeleton
The instructor noted that had the student put Kernanís words in quotation
marks and properly footnoted them, there would have been no offense.
Plagiarism extends to preparation materials as well. For example, should
the student forget to note on research cards the source of material and
then fail to footnote the source when the paper or report is prepared,
the student is still committing a plagiaristic act. Not knowing how or
when to footnote is not considered a sufficient excuse.
Students are expected to follow the general rules of footnoting for each
discipline. One footnote is not sufficient if additional material from
the same source is included in a work. Footnotes should express the extent
of ideas or expressions of others that are used. All direct quotes must
be in quotation marks or in block quote format. Simply providing a footnote
without using quotation marks or block quote format is a violation. For
further information about footnoting, refer to A Manual for Writers
by Kate L. Turabian or the MLA Style Sheet.
A general rule is: when in doubt, always footnote. The following rules
outline a proper footnote form.
ï Number footnotes consecutively throughout the paper in Arabic numerals.
ï First references should include the following information in order given:
1. authorís name (first name or initials listed first)
2. title of work (underlined, or in quotation marks if part of
3. name of editor or translator
4. place and date of publication
5. volume number
6. page number(s)
ï Subsequent references to works already cited should be abbreviated but
ï When it is not necessary to cite author and edition (e.g., in a discussion
of an assigned text), page or line references may be incorporated within
parentheses in the body of the paper. Proverbs, familiar quotations, line
references for short poems or page references for standard works, such
as the Bible, need not be acknowledged, unless the material cited appears
only in the particular edition used.
Examples of Footnotes
1Rene Wellek and Austin Warren, Theory of Literature
(New York: Scribnerís, 1949), p. 191.
1Raymond Gram Swing, "Father Coughlin: The Wonder of Self
Discovery," The Nation, January 2, 1935, pp. 9ñ11.
2Swing, p. 12.
Back to top
EXAMINATIONS, AND OTHER EXERCISES
Students are on their honor
not to ask for or give information pertaining to any portion of an examination
before or after they have taken it, in such a way as to gain or give an
advantage over other students.
The written pledge (see also Undergraduate Honor Pledge) signifies that
the work submitted is the studentís own and that it has been completed
in accordance with the requirements of the course as specified by the
instructor. In addition, each student and faculty member is expected to
establish a clear understanding of the requirements in each course. Any
student uncertain about the application of the pledge in a particular
course requirement should always consult the instructor. The Honor System
pledge, or an abbreviation, should be included in all written work completed
by the student and submitted for a grade. Any work handed in for credit,
however, will be considered pledged unless otherwise excepted by the professor.
Back to top
OF THE INDIVIDUAL STUDENT
Without the support and cooperation
of the entire student body, the Honor System will not work. Students must
insist on the absolute integrity of themselves and their fellow students.
It is the obligation of every student who suspects an honor violation
to take action in one of the following ways, determining the choice of
action by the flagrancy and/or certainty of the violation.
If a student has reason to suspect that a breach of the Honor Code has
been committed, he or she must:
1. Issue a personal warning to the suspect, or
2. Report the incident to The Honor Council for action by the president,
3. Inform the instructor in the course of the suspicions and identify,
if possible, the person(s) suspected.
Back to top
The Honor Council is an organization
of students that seeks to preserve the integrity of the Honor Code at
Vanderbilt University. It aims to secure justice for any student under
suspicion of dishonesty, to vindicate his or her name if innocent, and,
if guilty, to protect the honor and standing of the remaining students
by his or her punishment as set forth in the bylaws (from the constitution
of The Undergraduate Honor Council).
The fifty-seven members of The Honor Council are selected from all the
classes in all the undergraduate schools. Members are chosen by a joint
system of a student-faculty committee and class elections. All Honor Council
representatives must maintain at least a C average.
The Honor Council elects its own officers during the last general body
meeting of the fall semester. The officers include a president, two vice-presidents,
two recording secretaries, a corresponding secretary, and a public affairs
officer. The president must have served for at least one full year as
a member of The Honor Council.
Summer Council: Each spring the regularly selected Honor Council
has the authority to transfer jurisdiction over all infractions of the
Honor System during the summer session to the Summer Council, which has
the same authority as the regular Honor Council. The Summer Honor Council's
procedures are described in Article V of the Honor Council bylaws.
Back to top
The pledge to be signed on
all tests, quizzes, and similar work is: "I pledge my honor that
I have neither given nor received aid on this examination."
All students are subject to the jurisdiction of The Honor Council. Examinations
must be taken in intact blue books or on test materials designated by
Any student taking a course or courses in the College of Arts and Science,
Peabody College, the School of Engineering, or Blair School of Music,
regardless of where registered, is to this extent under the jurisdiction
of The Honor Council and subject to any penalties it may impose.
Back to top
ADVISERS OF UNDERGRADUATE HONOR COUNCIL
Student advisers appointed
by The Honor Council are not voting members of The Honor Council. They
serve to explain to an accused student the procedures of The Honor Council,
the hearing, and the penalties that may be assigned, and to help the accused
prepare a defense.
A list of advisers will be given to the accused student, and he or she
may select one to serve as adviser during the investigation, hearing,
and appeal. The accused may also select an individual not on the list
from the University communityófaculty, staff, or student. However,
current Honor Council members or persons with formal legal training are
not eligible to serve as advisers.
An adviser may also answer questions about the Honor Code or help students
understand responsibilities under the Code. If a student is not sure what
constitutes a violation or does not understand what actions to take after
witnessing a violation, an adviser may help.
Back to top
ADVISERS TO UNDERGRADUATE HONOR COUNCIL
Thirty faculty members appointed
by the Chancellor make up the Board of Faculty Advisers. Each year, they
elect their own chair. The chair assigns one faculty adviser to attend
every hearing. In a full panel hearing, the faculty adviser may ask questions
and participate in the discussion but does not have a vote in the outcome.
The faculty advisers do have a vote in the outcome of a small panel hearing.
After the hearing, he or she submits a written report to the chair.
At yearís end, The Honor Council officers and the Board of Faculty Advisers
may meet to review and discuss the cases decided that year. The Board
of Faculty Advisers shall submit a report of the yearís events to the
Back to top
OF THE VANDERBILT HONOR COUNCIL
When an alleged violation of the Honor Code is reported to the first vice
president of The Honor Council, he or she will immediately appoint two
2. The investigators shall interview, without delay, the accuser,
and later, persons other than the accused who might have been a part of,
or witness to, the alleged violation. They will collect all available
physical evidence. Having assembled their findings, they will prepare
a statement of the charge against the accused.
3. The statement includes, in addition to the specific charge,
an explanation of the possible consequences if the accused student is
found guilty of a breach of the Vanderbilt Honor Code. This statement
must be prepared in duplicateóone for the accused and one for The Honor
4. The investigators shall meet with the accused, explain that
they are there on Honor Council business, present him or her with the
written statement of charges, and give the accused a copy of the Honor
System handbook. The accused is required to respond to the investigatorsí
inquiries in reasonable time, and The Honor Council may send a notice
to the Registrarís office to enter an Incomplete on the accusedís transcript,
along with the notation "Honor Council investigation pending,"
if the accused is not compliant. The accused will be informed at this
time of all the available evidence in the case and of the procedures that
will be followed.
5. The investigators then ask the accused to sign the Statement
of Charges indicating that he or she understands the charge, possible
penalties if found guilty, and the procedures to be followed. Signing
the Statement of Charges does not imply or acknowledge guilt.
6. The investigators ask the accused to explain his or her own
account of the events surrounding the alleged violation. The accused may
choose not to make any statement at that time, but rather to defer making
any statement until an agreeable time prior to the hearing.
7. The investigators inform the accused of his or her right to
obtain material witnesses. The accused is required to notify the investigators
of the witness(es) before the hearing has been scheduled so that the investigators
may contact the witness(es) and prepare a statement for inclusion in the
investigative report. No witness will be allowed to testify at the hearing
unless he or she has previously given a statement to the investigators.
The investigators will also inform the accused student of his or her right
to obtain one character witness to testify at the hearing. In addition,
the accused may have one faculty, student, or staff adviser, who may not
have had legal training, present with him or her during the presentation
of testimony, and who may speak with the accused, but who may not speak
directly with Honor Council members. An accused may obtain professional
legal representation, advice, and counsel. However, an attorney may not
participate in or be present during an Honor Council hearing. The Honor
Council is a student tribunal untrained in the law. An attorney representing
an accused is encouraged to work directly with the Office of General Counsel.
8. The investigators should explain the procedures of the hearing
in full detail to each witness and the accused. They should explain to
the accused the importance of honesty in the proceedings and inform him
or her that he or she will be called on to enter a plea of guilt or innocence.
The investigators will also inform each as to the place and time of the
hearing. The hearing should not be held earlier than seventy-two hours
after the investigators initially have met with the accused unless an
earlier time is agreed to by the accused.
9. The investigators are to arrange any details necessary for conducting
the hearing, such as reserving rooms where the witnesses and the accused
may be placed during the hearing.
10. The investigators assemble the evidence and testimony in a
concise, logical report. At least twenty-four hours before the hearing,
the accused student will be presented with a copy of the investigatorsí
report in order to comment on any corrections or clarifications the accused
student feels are necessary or appropriate.
Full Panel Hearing
A twelve-member hearing panel (consisting of the president and eleven
members appointed by the president) will hear the evidence in the case.
The hearing panel conducts a prehearing to determine whether there is
sufficient evidence to justify conducting a full hearing. As a general
policy, The Honor Council will proceed with the hearing unless the preliminary
investigation indicates clearly that no substantive basis for doing so
1. Presentation of investigatorís report.
a. Investigators are sworn in by the second vice-president.
b. Evidence is presented: the interviews with witnesses are
reported briefly and impartially; the material evidence is presented and
explained without opinion.
c. The investigators read the statement of charges issued to
the accused and any statement written by the accused.
d. The Honor Council may question the investigators. At no time
do the investigators express their opinion(s) concerning the guilt or
innocence of the accused.
2. Determination whether to proceed to hearing. By simple
majority vote, The Honor Council decides whether or not there is sufficient
evidence to conduct a hearing.
1. Testimony. The accused student is allowed to be present
during the presentation of all testimony. The accuser and witnesses are
to appear separately and await their appearances alone. When called, each
(with the exception of the character witness) is sworn in by the second
a. Accuser. First, the president invites a general account
of the events in question. Then The Honor Council may direct its questions
to the accuser. The investigators may question the accuser, waiting until
The Honor Council has concluded its questioning, to clarify points that
may have been obscured. In the case of the accuserís absence, The Honor
Council will proceed to the testimony of the witness(es) and/or the accused
b. Material Witnesses. First, the president invites
a general account of the events in question. Then The Honor Council may
direct its questions to the witness. The investigators may question material
witnesses, waiting until The Honor Council has concluded its questioning,
to clarify points that may have been obscured.
c. Character Witness. One character witness may answer
questions concerning the background of the accused. A character witness
is not allowed to testify or express an opinion concerning the alleged
offense. Discretion will be exercised to avoid questions that a character
witness is not allowed to answer.
d. Accused. The president presents to the accused the
charges and asks if he or she is familiar with the charges, the evidence,
and the possible penalties if found guilty. The accused enters his or
her plea of guilt or innocence. The president asks the accused to state
his or her account of the events in question. At this time, discrepancies
in testimony, contradictions, and specific charges are brought forth.
The president should detail the charges in light of the testimony that
has been introduced in support of the charges. The investigators may question
the accuser, waiting until The Honor Council has concluded its questioning,
to clarify points that may have been obscured.
2. Recall. Witnesses may be recalled if The Honor Council
3. Guilt. When The Honor Council is satisfied that all pertinent
testimony has been received, it proceeds to discuss and decide the question
of guilt or innocence. The proof that a person is guilty of a charge must
be clear and convincing to The Honor Council. Ten of the twelve members
must vote "guilty" to find the accused guilty. Investigators
do not vote.
4. Penalty. If the accused is found guilty, The Honor Council
determines a fitting penalty based upon (a) the flagrancy of the violation,
(b) premeditation involved in the offense, and (c) the truthfulness of
the accused throughout the investigation and the hearing. The penalty
must be determined by simple majority vote. If, at the discretion of The
Honor Council president, mitigating circumstances exist with regard to
the commission of the violation in question, then the president may introduce
those circumstances to be considered in the discussion of penalty. Such
circumstances may not relate to the possible ramifications of the panelís
5. Decision. The accused is brought back for presentation
of The Honor Councilís decision. After stating the decision, the president
(and others) may talk with the accused. They may explain that the accusedís
parents may be notified of any sanctions imposed. At this time it should
also be explained to the accused that he or she has the right of appeal.
Small Panel Hearing
During the course of an investigation,
an accused student who wishes to plead guilty may request a small panel
hearing of his or her case. If there are two or more students involved
in a single case, all must plead guilty and request a small panel hearing
in order for one to be conducted. If one of the accused students requests
a small panel hearing and others do not, a full hearing must be conducted
for all the students involved
If an accused student informs the investigators that he or she would prefer
a small panel hearing, the investigators will inform The Honor Councilís
first vice president, who will in turn inform The Honor Council president.
A date, time, and location will be chosen for the hearing.
The Honor Council president will arrange for one other Honor Council member
and a member of the Faculty Advisory Board to be present at the hearing.
The Honor Council president should attempt to contact the chair of the
Board within twenty-four hours of the tentative time scheduled for the
hearing to arrange for a Board member to be present.
At least twenty-four hours before the hearing, the accused student will
be presented with a copy of the investigatorsí report in order to comment
on any corrections or clarifications the accused student feels are necessary
At the hearing, the panel members will be present, along with the investigators,
the accused student, his or her adviser, and a character witness for the
accused if he or she so desires.
1. Investigators. The investigators will first present their
report and any pertinent evidence; material witnesses may be called to
testify if necessary. After the evidence has been presented, the investigators
may answer any questions from the panel members.
2. Character Witness. If the accused student desires the
support of a character witness, the witness will testify before the accused
3. Accused. At the conclusion of the investigatorsí report,
the accused student will be given the opportunity to describe the events
in question. Panel members will then have an opportunity to question the
accused student about his or her testimony and the evidence before them.
4. Penalty. At the conclusion of all questioning, the panel
will adjourn for a discussion of penalty. The appropriate penalty will
be assigned on the basis of three criteria: (a) flagrancy of the violation,
(b) premeditation involved in the offense, and (c) truthfulness of the
student throughout the investigation and the hearing.
If, at the discretion of The Honor Council president, mitigating circumstances
exist with regard to the commission of the violation in question, then
the president may introduce those circumstances to be considered in the
discussion of penalty. Such circumstances may not relate to the possible
ramifications of the panelís decision.
At the conclusion of the discussion, a penalty will be assigned by
the panel. A small panel can assign one of two penalties in a case: (a)
failure in the course, or (b) failure in the course and suspension for
one semester. In rare circumstances, the panel may suspend the minimum
penalty of failure in the course. Each penalty requires a unanimous vote
of the panel. In the event that the panel cannot reach a unanimous decision
or the small panel concludes that the penalty should be more severe than
prescribed above, the case is sent to a full panel hearing.
5. Decision. The accused student will be informed of the
small panelís decision.
After the Hearing
At the conclusion of the hearing, The Honor Council president will gather
all the material evidence, investigative reports, notes, etc., involved
with the case and place them on file in Sarratt Student Center. In addition,
a Hearing Information Form and Statement of Charges will be filed in Honor
Council's adviser's office and notices mailed to all parties involved
and to appropriate school administrators.
2. If the accused is found guilty or pleads guilty, written notice
of the decision is sent to the following parties: (a) the accused, (b)
the dean of the school in which he or she is enrolled, (c) the registrar
of the school in which he or she is enrolled, (d) the University registrar
and assistant registrar, (e) the Vice Chancellor for Student Life, (f)
the Dean of Housing Residential Education when suspension of University
Privileges is involved, (g) the chair of the Appellate Review Board, (h)
the instructor concerned, (i) the accusedís parents, and (j) other material
3. A summary of the proceedings will then be prepared by a member
of the Board of Faculty Advisers, who will circulate copies to the panel
members and to the accused student.
4. The accused student may appeal a full or small panel decision
to The Honor Council adviser or the adviser's designee, but must do so
within ten class or exam days of the hearing date or within two calendar
weeks if school is not in session for ten days after notification. The
appeal petition will be sent to the chair of the Appellate Review Board
who will determine if there are sufficient grounds for an appeal based
on the criteria delimited in the appeal procedures. If the Chair affirms
that there is sufficient reason for an appeal, the studentís petition
is sent to The Honor Council president who will draft a reply to the studentís
appeal upon receipt of the appeal from the Honor Council adviser's office.
This reply will be sent to the accused student for review and additional
written comment if he or she wishes. The appeal, The Honor Council reply,
the studentís comments, and copies of all appropriate evidence are then
sent to the Appellate Review Board. (For information on procedures of
the Appellate Review Board, see the Judicial System chapter.)
Back to top
FROM THE UNIVERSITY BEFORE HEARING
If a student who has been reported
for a suspected violation of the Honor Code withdraws from the University
before a hearing has been conducted, the fact will be recorded by the
Honor Council. A letter will be sent to the accused stating that he or
she is suspected of an Honor Code violation, that an investigation has
been or will be conducted, and that a hearing may be held.
The accused may respond in one of three ways: return to the campus for
a hearing, waive the right to give testimony personally, thereby acknowledging
that the hearing may proceed in his or her absence, or waive the right
to appear and send a written, signed statement to be presented on his
or her behalf at the hearing. Failure by the accused to respond will be
considered a waiver of the right to appear.
During the time prior to the hearing, a statement will be placed on the
transcript of the accused stating that an Honor Council case is pending.
A letter will also be sent to the University registrar and to the registrar
of the school in which the accused was enrolled indicating that an Honor
Council case is pending. If the accused attempts to register before the
case is heard, the registrar will notify the president of The Honor Council.
The case must be resolved before the accused may register.
If a case cannot be heard before the end of the grading period, the instructor
will submit a grade of "I" until The Honor Council can act on
Back to top
AND DISQUALIFICATION OF COUNCIL MEMBERS
1. During the investigation
and throughout the entire course of The Honor Councilís proceedings, Honor
Council members must express no opinion concerning the offense to witnesses,
the accused, or members of the community at large.
2. Council members and investigators are not qualified to participate
in cases where they may be subject to prejudice because of kinship, fraternity
or sorority affiliation, or evidence of past prejudice.
3. Council members are not allowed to serve as character witnesses
in any cases.
Back to top
UNDERGRADUATE HONOR COUNCIL CONSTITUTION AND
(Adopted by the Student Body, May 23, 1945; amended April 27, 1949;
May 15, 1957; February 11, 1959; March 14, 1962; April 26, 1967; January
28, 1971; March 3, 1971; March 8, 1972; October, 1974; April, 1975; February
28, 1978; September 25, 1979; February 24, 1981; January 8, 1986; January
14, 1988; January 8, 1990; February 25, 1997; December 13, 2000; and February
All academic work at Vanderbilt University is conducted under the Honor
Code. For the successful operation of the honor system, the cooperation
of the whole student body is essential. It is the duty of each member
of the student body to show his or her appreciation of the trust placed
in him or her under this system, not alone by his or her own conduct,
but by his or her insistence on the absolute honesty of others in his
or her class. It should be a point of honor among the various classes
to hold their members to the standard of the University, and all students
should be ready to report to The Honor Council anyone who may violate
this trust, immediately and without discrimination. For the purpose of
encouraging honesty and investigating cases of alleged dishonesty on the
part of the students, an Honor Council is established with the following
The name of the council shall be The Undergraduate Honor Council of
Vanderbilt University. The Undergraduate Honor Council of Vanderbilt University
shall hereinafter be referred to as The Honor Council.
The Honor Council is an organization of students that seeks to preserve
the integrity of the Honor Code at Vanderbilt University. It aims to secure
justice for any student under suspicion of dishonesty, to vindicate his
or her name if innocent, and, if guilty, to protect the honor and standing
of the remaining students by his or her punishment as shall be set forth
in the Bylaws. It proposes to do this in accordance with the procedures,
rules, and organization hereinafter set forth.
Section 1. The Honor Council shall take cognizance of the giving
or receiving of aid by any student without the knowledge or consent of
the instructor concerned.
This applies to all tests, themes, term papers, and examinations, and
to any other work unless specifically designated by an instructor not
to be under the Honor Code.
Section 2. Any student taking a course or courses in the College
of Arts and Science, Peabody College, the School of Engineering, or Blair
School of Music, regardless of where registered, is, to this extent, under
the jurisdiction of the Honor Council and subject to any penalties it
Section 2. The following pledge shall be signed on all work: "I
pledge my honor that I have neither given nor received aid on this examination."
Membership and Elections
Section 1. The membership of The Honor Council shall normally
consist of fifty representatives and seven officers. At the beginning
of each academic year, the representatives shall be as follows:
Arts and Science
Five representatives from the senior class
Fifteen representatives from the junior class
Ten representatives from the sophomore class
One representatives from the senior class
Three representatives from the junior class
Two representative from the sophomore class
Two representatives from the senior class
Five representatives from the junior class
Three representatives from the sophomore class
One representative from the senior class
One representative from the junior class
One representatives from the sophomore class
In addition to the fifty representatives provided for above, membership
of The Honor Council shall also include those representatives who have
completed their two-year terms on The Honor Council in good standing and
who have chosen to serve one final year on The Honor Council.
Section 2. In January of each year, immediately following the election
of new officers, representatives shall be either elected or appointed,
as the case may be, from among the schools as follows:
(i) In the spring of each year the public affairs officer shall announce
that applications for The Honor Council may be submitted by any member
of the undergraduate student body qualified to hold office.
(ii) A committee consisting of the newly elected president, the immediate
past president, The Honor Council adviser (or the adviser's designee),
and two faculty members appointed by the Faculty Senate shall evaluate
those members of the undergraduate student body who have applied for membership
on The Honor Council. The committee shall present to The Honor Councilís
public affairs officer a list of not more than 22 sophomores, i.e., rising
juniors (12 Arts and Science, 3 Peabody, 2 Blair, and 5 Engineering),
and 18 freshmen, i.e., rising sophomores (11 Arts and Science, 2 Peabody,
2 Blair, and 3 Engineering). The public affairs officer shall immediately
schedule an election publicizing the names of the candidates recommended
by the committee for the purpose of electing representatives.
(iii) An election shall be held to select 14 representatives (8 Arts
and Science, 2 Peabody, 1 Blair, and 3 Engineering) from the sophomore
class and 12 representatives (7 Arts and Science, 1 Peabody, 2 Blair,
and 2 Engineering) from the freshman class.
(iv) Candidates must receive votes from a minimum of 20 percent of
the voting student body in order to be elected to The Honor Council. If
there is not a sufficient number of candidates elected to fill the available
positions on The Honor Council, the committee shall fill such vacant positions
based upon the committeeís previous evaluation process.
(v) An Honor Council member must maintain an overall C average to
remain eligible to serve on The Honor Council.
At the end of the first full year of an Honor Council memberís term,
he/she will have the option to resign his/her membership.
In case a vacancy occurs on The Honor Council, it shall be filled
at the next scheduled selection. The person selected will serve only for
the unexpired term.
The Honor Council shall elect from its number the following officers:
A president, who must be either a junior or a senior and shall have
served one year previously as a member of The Honor Council;
Two vice presidents;
Two recording secretaries;
A corresponding secretary; and
A public affairs officer.
Both men and women may be represented in these offices.
Duties of Officers
Section 1. It shall be the duty of the president to preside
at all meetings of The Honor Council, to arrange for the hearing of any
student accused, and to perform all duties common to this office, including
preparing and submitting an annual summary of the yearís events to the
Faculty Senate. The president shall administer the new members the following
"I do solemnly promise to uphold the Constitution and Bylaws
of The Honor Council and to perform the duties of my office to the best
of my ability."
Section 2. The first vice president shall supervise all investigations.
Section 3. The second vice president shall administer to all witnesses
and accused the following pledge:
"I, ____, will tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the
truth in relation to the inquiry about which I am to give evidence."
Section 4. The recording secretaries shall keep full minutes of
all meetings and the proceedings of all hearings. They must be kept in
Section 5. The corresponding secretary shall notify members of
all hearings, meetings, and retreats and perform any other related duties.
Section 6. The public affairs officer shall be responsible for
publishing at least twice a semester in the campus newspapers a report
of recent Honor Council decisions, coordinating the selection of new members,
and carrying out all related duties.
Board of Faculty Advisors
Section 1. The Chancellor shall appoint a board of advisers
to advise The Honor Council during hearings and investigations.
Section 2. The board of advisers shall consist of 30 faculty members
who shall serve at the pleasure of the Chancellor.
Section 3. The board shall elect its own chair who shall be responsible
for coordinating and assigning all duties in consultation with the president
of The Honor Council.
Section 4. The chair of the board, along with the president of
The Honor Council, shall mail an annual report to the Faculty Senate on
the status of the Honor System.
Section 1. Regular meetings of The Honor Council shall be held
at the discretion of the president.
Section 2. It shall be the duty of each Honor Council member to
attend all meetings and hearings as requested. Each member is entitled
to a number of absences; the president shall set this number.
Section 3. All meetings shall be conducted according to Robertís
Rules of Order, Newly Revised.
Two-thirds of the members then serving shall always constitute a quorum
of The Honor Council, except in case of a hearing, when twelve members
shall constitute a quorum.
Section 1. No one shall be competent to sit on The Honor Council
if he or she is related by blood or marriage to an accused, or is a member
of the same fraternity or sorority as the accused. The Honor Council may,
by a majority vote, declare any member incompetent for other grounds.
Section 2. All cases shall be heard privately.
Section 3. All hearings shall require the presence of a member
of the board of advisers to proceed. This faculty member shall file a
written report with the secretary and chair of the board of advisers after
Section 4. In case of a hearing, the verdict shall be "guilty"
or "not guilty," and ten votes out of the twelve shall be necessary
to convict the accused. The presiding officer must vote in all decisions.
Written notice of the decision will be sent to the accused, the registrar
of the school in which he or she is enrolled, the University registrar,
the instructor concerned, and, with the permission of the accused, the
parents, and the accuser not later than two days after the hearing has
been held. Also, a copy must be kept in the permanent files of The Honor
Council. Announcement of the facts and results of the case shall be made
in the Hustler, but any facts which might tend to identify the student
or students involved shall be withheld.
Section 5. The president may appoint a faculty member as an expert
Section 6. All business conducted on investigations, hearings,
business meetings, retreats, and other official Honor Council functions
shall be held in strictest confidence among the members of The Honor Council.
In addition, all information concerning investigations and hearings shall
be so held by the individual members of The Honor Council then present;
they may not discuss this information with other persons, including other
Council members who are not on that particular case. However, information
of a nonconfidential nature may be made available by The Honor Council
president to the student body through the campus newspaper, radio station,
Small Panel Hearing
Section 1. In the event that an accused student admits guilt
during an investigation, that student
shall have the right to request a small-panel hearing rather than the
regular panel hearing.
Section 2. A small-panel hearing shall consist of a member of the
board of advisers, the president of The Honor Council, and one additional
member chosen by the president.
Section 3. Any decision reached by the panel must be unanimous.
If the panel is unable to reach a unanimous decision, the case must be
referred to a full hearing.
Section 4. If the panel decides that the penalty for the accused
student should be more severe than suspension for one semester or that
consideration by the regular panel is desirable, the case should be referred
to a full hearing.
The Honor Council shall have the power to impeach, suspend, or otherwise
discipline its own members as shall be prescribed in the Bylaws.
Each new student entering the University will be informed by The Honor
Council as to the functions of the honor system and his or her obligations
to the Honor Code and will be provided with a copy of the Constitution
and Bylaws of The Honor Council on request and will be bound by the honor
system upon registration.
Section 1. In case a student withdraws from the University after
a charge has been made against him or her by another student or by The
Honor Council and before the hearing, the facts shall be recorded by The
Honor Council just as if the accused had been present. The president will
place a notation on the transcript of the accused, who will not be allowed
to reenter the University until he or she has had a hearing before The
Honor Council. Notice of such hearings will be sent to the student at
his or her home or other known address.
Amendments to this constitution shall require for their adoption the approval
of two-thirds of the total membership of The Honor Council and ratification
by a majority of the voting student body.
Back to top
Responsibility of Students
If a student has reason to suspect that a breach of the Honor
Code has been committed, he or she must:
1. Issue a personal warning to the suspect, or
2. Report the incident to The Honor Council for action to the acting
a. An official warning will be issued by The Honor Council to the
b. An investigation will be held by The Honor Council, or
3. Inform the instructor in the course of the suspicions and identify,
if possible, the person(s) suspected.
The first vice-president shall appoint a committee of two or
three members to investigate each case and report its findings to The
Honor Council. In case of a hearing, this committee shall present evidence
to The Honor Council and shall be ineligible to serve as members of The
Honor Council in this case. The president shall decide whether or not
there is sufficient evidence to hold a hearing on the case in question.
In all cases, the reporting party shall be notified fully of The Honor
Penalties given to those declared guilty will be decided upon by The Honor
Council and shall conform to the limits herein set forth:
1. For the first offense and any succeeding offenses of any student,
freshman or upperclassman, the penalty may range from the minimum of failure
in the course to the maximum of expulsion. Expulsion must be approved
by a vote of at least ten of the twelve members; other penalties require
only a majority vote of the twelve members. The guidelines that should
be considered in deciding the penalty are the following: the flagrancy
of the violation, the degree of premeditation, and the truthfulness of
the accused throughout the investigation and the hearing.
A student who is suspended by The Honor Council will have a note attached
to his or her transcript indicating this action. At the end of the period
of suspension, the note will be removed from the transcript, and letters
to the University registrar and the registrar of the school in which the
student was enrolled at the time of the violation will be removed from
the studentís files in those offices and placed in the permanent Honor
Council files in the office of The Honor Council adviser.
Any student being found guilty of an Honor Code violation a second
time during his or her tenure at the University shall be expelled.
2. If the presiding officer questions whether a penalty for a violation
of the Honor Code is warranted under the particular circumstances of the
case, he or she may open discussion among members concerning suspension
of the penalty. The Honor Council may, by a vote of ten out of twelve
members, elect to suspend the penalty. However, suspension of the sentence
shall in no way serve to alter the finding of guilty under the Code.
3. Failure to cooperate with The Honor Council in providing information
about an alleged offense shall constitute a conduct violation. If a personal
warning is not issued, failure to report a known or suspected violation
of the Honor Code shall also constitute a conduct violation.
Any undergraduate student may bring a charge to impeach, suspend, or otherwise
discipline members of The Honor Council for negligent or incompetent performance
of their responsibilities as Honor Council members by contacting an Honor
Council officer. Officers of The Honor Council may make similar charges
on their own or on behalf of a member of the faculty, student body, or
Honor Council. The president or acting presiding officer shall appoint
two investigators to investigate the charge, and a seven-member committee
to hear the case. A majority of the hearing committee is required to find
the member guilty and to impose discipline, including impeachment.
Summer Honor Council
Section 1. Transfer of Power: The regularly elected Honor
Council shall have the authority to transfer jurisdiction over all infractions
of the Honor Code during the summer sessions to the Summer Honor Council.
This Summer Council shall have the same authority as set forth in the
constitution except that it may not vote on proposed amendments to the
Section 2. Membership: The Summer Council shall consist
of all regular members present during the summer.
Section 3. Officers: The president will appoint as necessary.
Section 4. Hearings: Hearings shall be constituted according
to Article XI of the constitution, except that summer hearings shall consist
of four members and one member of the Board of Faculty Advisers. Each
member of this panel has one vote; conviction requires four or five members
to vote guilty.
Section 5. Penalties: Penalties shall be determined pursuant
to Article I of these Bylaws except that penalties must be approved by
a vote of at least three of the five members. If the panel decides that
the regular panel is desirable, the case will be referred to a full panel
for decision at the beginning of the fall semester.
Section 6. Final report: At the end of his or her term,
the president shall leave a full report of the summerís activities for
the regular president.
Appointment of Committee Chairs
Each spring and fall semester, the president shall appoint, from members
of The Honor Council, chairs of the following standing committees: Elections
Committee, Faculty Relations Committee, and Orientation Committee. These
chairs shall be eligible for reappointment for succeeding semesters.
Back to top
Copyright © 2000 Vanderbilt University. Last
modified 21 March 2001. For more information, please firstname.lastname@example.org.