By Lindsay haislip
One of the first and most important aspects of Washington College that first year students are exposed to before beginning their college career is the Honor Code. Many students can recall lining up with their class to sign the infamous book as a promise to themselves and the institution that they will live up to its standards. The Honor Board at WC serves as a way for students facing an alleged violation of the Honor Code to be heard by their peers in a way that is unbiased and honest.
Previously, the Honor Board was something that Senior Honor Board Chair Ian Holstrom believes may not have been taken as seriously, but during his three year period as the Chair, he has seen perceptions change.
“I think people are realizing that we really mean what we do and what we say,” said Holstrom. “It’s not just a formality. All the members of the Honor Board have a genuine interest in creating the environment that we talk about in the Honor Code, where people can be free in their academic and social pursuits and not have to feel like that right will be infringed upon,” he said.
A number of factors have begun to change previous perceptions, including a formal address to the Freshmen class at orientation. This has not only led to a better understanding of the Honor Code, but “students are more willing to take it to heart,” said Holstrom.
“I think the only way the Honor Code can work is if everyone takes it to heart, and the resulting environment of everyone taking the Honor Code to heart is great,” he said.
In addition to having a greater presence in the minds of students, the Honor Board has seen a more significant interest in the amount of students that want to be a part of it.
“There are always a ton of people and they’re all great and we just can’t accept them all,” Holstrom said.
One of the most important of the Board’s tasks falls on ensuring that they present a diverse representation of students, including both genders and at least one member from each class.
“The Board is entirely student run,” said Holstrom. Nine students and five faculty members represent the current Honor Board. The Student Government Association is in charge of selecting the student representatives, and the faculty is in charge of selecting its members.
“It’s truly students’ alleged violations of the Honor Code being heard by their peers,” said Holstrom. Washington College is unique in that “no other schools really do it that way,” he said.
While the Honor Board does impose sanctions for violations of the Honor Code, it is certainly not their ultimate goal to punish. “It’s more like rehabilitation,” Holstrom said. Their hope is that students who come before the Board will ultimately benefit from the experience and change for the better.
“We want to send the message that the Honor Code is extremely important to WC, and the Honor Board is just one of the arms that helps instill a sense of integrity in the student body,” Holstrom said.