Most American colleges and universities have students sign an honor pledge, but that slip of paper—and what it represents—can quickly get lost in the rush of freshman orientation. That’s not the case at Randolph College, where the Honor System is a living, breathing reminder of the principles on which the college was founded more than 115 years ago.
“Our Honor Code is real. It’s not just ‘in words only,’” says Dean of Students Sarah Swager. “Our students and our faculty and our staff all support the Honor Code, and it works.”
At Randolph, the Honor System is about honesty, integrity and respect—respect for yourself, respect for the college, and respect for your professors and peers. Students are never asked to “tell” on a classmate, but are expected to encourage anyone who has broken the code to report themselves to the Judiciary Committee .
The committee is made up of three elected student representatives from each class with a senior acting as chair. There are also two faculty members on the committee, one who is elected by the faculty for a three-year term and the Dean of the College.
The Honor System establishes a deep trust that binds the campus together. Students know that they are part of a community that views them as intelligent adults who can make their own decisions.
An example of that trust is the self-scheduled exam process. During finals week, students can decide when and where to take each of their exams. Every day, there are two or three time slots in which students can take exams at designated rooms around campus. If a student has four exams to take over the course of the week, he can choose which day, at which time and in which room he will take them.
There are no proctors staring over students’ shoulders, and the students themselves are often in charge of handing out and collecting exams.
“There is nobody in the room except people who are taking the exam,” says Dean Swager. “So you could be in a room taking a math exam and the person sitting next to you is taking an art history exam.”
The self-scheduled exam system gives students a sense of control and empowerment in what can be an otherwise stressful time of the year. To celebrate the start and end of each exam session, students gather to ring the Conway Bell in Main Hall.
While other Randolph traditions may change over time, the Honor System will always remain the moral and ethical backbone of our proud college.