Approaching Honorcode Violations
The Honor Code is necessary to maintain the academic integrity of MUSC. Both students and faculty have a vested interest in ensuring that there is strict adherence to the Honor Code. Fortunately, genuine Honor Code violations are relatively rare, usually no more than a few cases per college per year. Because of this, a student who suspects another student of violating the Honor Code will most likely be in unfamiliar territory. To avoid unnecessary headaches, please use the following as a rough protocol for handling suspected Honor Code violations.
1. Read the Honor Code! It may sound obvious, but the Honor Code can answer most of the questions that arise if you have a suspected violation. It is relatively short and written in easy-to-understand language. In particular, pay attention to the submission of formal charges, the rights of the accused, the process by which the Honor Council conducts hearings. The most up-to-date version can be found online at http://www.musc.edu/honorcode/
2. If you need advice, the person to talk to is your college’s Honor Council Faculty Advisor. The Faculty Advisor is a non-voting member of the Honor Council who gives unbiased advice to all parties involved. Chances are that he or she has been through Honor Council trials before, and is therefore very familiar with the Honor Code and the Honor Council process. Do not hesitate to ask this person for advice; he or she would be much happier giving advice before formal charges are submitted rather than having to deal with additional problems that arise afterwards. The Faculty Advisor for your college is listed on the Honor Code homepage: http://www.musc.edu/honorcode/
3. DO NOT discuss the matter with any additional students or faculty. The Honor Code requires that we maintain strict confidentiality. This is critical to protect the rights of the accused and to maintain the objectivity of the Honor Council. If you believe that there has been an Honor Code violation, submit formal charges in writing either to the accused student’s Dean’s office, or to the Honor Council President. These charges are confidential and should be hand-delivered. See page 6 of the Honor Code for specific instructions. Remember, you do not need to be assured of guilt before submitting formal charges. Honor Council officers will investigate the matter fully and conduct a preliminary hearing to establish whether the case should go before the full Honor Council. While we wish to avoid false accusations, we are even more wary of lax enforcement. Failure to report suspected violators endangers the integrity of the entire University.
4. DO NOT discuss the matter further. Once formal charges have been submitted, there is no need to discuss the matter with the accused or with anyone else. Doing so not only endangers confidentiality, it may also jeopardize the Honor Council’s investigation. The only people you should discuss the issue with at this point are members of the Honor Council who have been appointed as investigators. They will interview the accused and additional faculty members as appropriate.
6. Be prepared to be interviewed by an Honor Council investigator. Save any relevant materials to give to the investigator. Also be prepared to testify at the Formal Hearing if asked to do so. Unfortunately, Formal Hearings can be very time consuming; do not be upset if you have to sacrifice an evening. This is a small price to pay for maintaining the high standards of our school – and it’s much less time than the Honor Council members will be sacrificing!