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borne in mind is that human character determining whether or not these condigrows in vice as well as virtue by what it tions will exist than by inquiring among feeds on.
The man who cheats in an students of known high character, who examination, by the very fact that he are in touch with, and have an influence has cheated, makes his possibilities for over a large number of their fellow evil greater. Furthermore, the man who students. cheats in an honor system does an act A much more interesting point is the effects of which are more harmful raised by the question: What is the to him than if he had cheated in an ex- kind of school in which the conditions amination conducted under the monitor which warrant the adoption of the honsystem. It is, therefore, improper for or system are apt to be found ? My a law faculty to adopt an honor system, observations lead me to believe that even though they be convinced that there three facts must tend to exist–if I may will be no more cheating under that put it that way. system than under the monitor system; First, the student body must, on the they must be convinced that there will whole, be drawn from those classes in be much less cheating.
the community which understand each Lastly, we must remember that the other's conditions and points of view. duty to see that the examinations are so This, of course, is only another way of conducted that men who attempt to saying that the students must be a homocheat are eliminated from the school is geneous body. You cannot make a hothe duty of the faculty or the executive mogeneous body from professional stuorganization of the school, and that, on dents drawn from different classes in the other hand, it is not a duty of the our body politic, and who have little student, unless he voluntarily assumes it. knowledge of, and less sympathy with, This means that if any system of stu- one another. dent reporting, or student reporting and In the second place, the class or classes punishment, for violation of the rules, is from which the student body is drawn put in force as part of the honor system must be those which have distinct feeladopted, the faculty has no right to re- ings of responsibility for government. quire any student to become part of the Take an illustration: A school drawing police machinery, or permit his fellow largely from what is popularly called the students to require him to become a part "400," of our large cities, which is mereof that machinery, without his consent. ly another way of stating that the stuOf course, this consent may be made a dent body is recruited from the upper condition of matriculation.
crust of a purely commercial society, or Practically, the three principles just rather a school in which this class of enunciated mean that the honor system students forms, though perhaps a small, should not be adopte unless the over- nevertheless an influential, body, is not a whelming sentiment of the student body school in which there is likely to develop is in favor of it, unless the faculty are a strong desire for the honor system. In convinced that less cheating will occur such a school to the most prominent stuunder it than under any monitor system dents it will be a bore. For such a dethat they can devise, and that violations sire involves embryo governmental inof the system will be detected with rea- stincts, and the plutocratic top of a comsonable certainty and the violators elim- mercial society has rarely in the world's inated. I know of no better method of history developed such an instinct, and
certainly has not developed it in the for undesirable acts indicating low moral United States. 'Individually, with few standards, and I shall be much mistaken exceptions, students drawn from the so- if each one of us will not find that the called upper class of our large cities are majority of such students are drawn fine men; but almost without exception from the class I have indicated. they either take no interest in the honor All will admit that the honor system, system, or are opposed to it, because they throwing, as it does, moral responsibility distrust the moral stamina of all classes on the individual, will tend to elevate except their own, and are unwilling to him, if he is strong enough to bear it. assume the responsibility and undertake It will in like manner do good to the the trouble involved in the operation of school, if conditions are right—if the the honor system.
students are willing to take up and carOn the other hand, if the class from ry the responsibility involved. But my which the student body is drawn is feeling is that in the present social and largely a democracy more or less con- economic conditions of our country it nected with the soil—that is, farmers is unlikely that the system will be adoptand those tradesmen who deal with ed, or, if adopted, prove beneficial in farmers-or if the student body is re- schools drawing mainly from our larger cruited from a landed aristocracy, then cities. On the other hand, I do think you have conditions which will not only that in the older institutions of the create a demand for the honor system South, and in our Western state univerfrom the student body, but will cause it sities, we may expect the adoption of the to be attended with the best possible re- system with beneficial results. sults. The success which I understand has attended the adoption of the system in some Western schools, and the unqualified success in the University of
The Honor System Virginia, tend, I think, to prove the correctness of this observation.
By WILLIAM MINOR LILE
Dean, University of Virginia Law School In the third place, if the school contains a considerable body of students drawn from those classes who are striv- FEW years ago, in a questionnaire ing to obtain or have just obtained a from a distinguished law teacher, foothold in a commercial society, the then, as now, I believe, an officer of your honor system will be, I believe, unwork- association, appeared the question: "Do able. Men who are fighting a desperate you believe in the honor system?” My economic battle in large cities under reply was: “Yes; as I do in the Chrisconditions of fierce competition do not as tian religion.” a rule develop a sensitive morality, and I am here, on your invitation, to show the children of the first generation rise cause for this transcendent faith. in that respect little above their fathers. Those of us, born, as it were, into the Take any of us who are connected with honor system, who have known no other, law schools in large cities. Let us páss and who have lived with it and under in mental review the students in our it since the callow days of the primary respective schools in whose morality we school, have difficulty in realizing that have not perfect confidence, or the men there exists among intelligent educators whom in the past we have eliminated skepticism as to its genuineness and ef
ficiency. But I am assured that such system for more than half of my life. skepticism does prevail, and widely, This experience warrants the acceptance among the members of your association. of my testimony as that of a qualified My address has been prepared with this witness. Whether that of a biased or a fact prominently in mind. This mental deluded one you must determine. attitude will account for the nature of For some years after the establishmy treatment of the theme.
ment of the University, in 1819, honesty In discussions of the honor system
in the written examinations was sought among those not familiar with it, confu- to be secured by the surveillance of an sion of thought has arisen from failure examining committee.
examining committee. The result was to distinguish between the desirability of doubtless unsatisfactory, for, in 1812, the system, and its practicability under Prof. Henry St. George Tucker, father conditions prevailing in particular schools of the late distinguished John Randolph or localities.
Tucker, for many years dean of the Law The end sought is surely most desira- School of Washington and Lee Univerble; but, when the system seeks admis- sity, and grandfather of the latter's dission to new fields, it is halted by the per- tinguished son, Harry St. George Tucker tinent inquiry, Is it practicable? The -Prof. Tucker being at that time sole truth probably is that under conditions professor of law—offered, and the faculprevailing in many educational institu- ty adopted, the following resolution, tions the system is not immediately prac- namely: ticable. The truth certainly is that in
"Resolved, That in all future written exmany other institutions its practicability aminations for distinction and other honors has been demonstrated.
of the University, each candidate shall attach
to the written answer presented by him, on Further and greater confusion has re- such examination, a certificate in the followsulted from ignorance of what the sys
ing words: 'I, A. B., do hereby certify on
honor that I have derived no assistance durtem really is. There has come to my ob- ing the time of this examination from any servation no objection or criticism that
source whatever, whether oral or written or
in print, in giving the above answers.'' did not originate in a colossal and appalling ignorance of the system itself. This was the genesis of the honor sys
To clear the atmosphere, then, and to tem at the University. Later the pledge supply the facts for the general discus- was amended so as to preclude the giving sion which I understand is to follow, let as well as the receiving of assistanceme explain, as briefly as I may, some- and in this amended form it has been thing of the origin, nature, operation, retained to the present day. The system and results of the honor system at its has been in continuous operation since, birthplace, the University of Virginia. I and with results so satisfactory as to say birthplace, because, so far as my in- render it, in the opinion of the faculty formation goes, this system at the time of and friends of the University, the most its institution had no precedent in other valuable asset that the institution poseducational establishments. While it has
sesses. Some of these results will apsome of the features of Dr. Arnold's
pear in the development of the theme. method at Rugby, it differs widely from Now as to the nature and operation of that method. As pupil of the high
the system: school, as academical and professional From the moment of his matriculation, student, and as teacher, I have lived in every student is presumed by the faculty close personal contact with the honor and by his fellows to be a man of honor and worthy of their trust. If not al- with under the system of self-governready a disciple of the system-as, from ment-itself a reflex of the honor system circumstances to be mentioned presently, rather than under the honor system many freshmen are—he learns within a
proper. few days that he has become a member Coming back to our raw freshman, he of a miniature, self-governing communi- early learns not only the nature of his ty, with but one rule of conduct, and obligations under the system, but its penthat is the exercise of absolute candor alties. He becomes conscious that its and honesty in all of his relations with violation is a breach of trust in a double the body politic and its members. This sense toward the constituted authoribody regards itself as an association of ties of the University, and toward his gentlemen, the student members of which fellow classmen—and that its penalties are all contestants for the favors, privi- are short, sharp, and severe. Conviction leges, and honors of the University. It carries with it immediate expulsion from considers that these are to be attained by the University by the student body, and honest effort only, and that any member a disgrace that follows the delinquent for who essays to win by dishonest methods the remainder of his life. As between is playing the game unfairly, and should conviction of cheating on examination, be eliminated at once from further par- and of theft in the police court, the ticipation in the contest.
average student would find the choice an Originally, the system dealt only with embarrassing one. Nor does public opinbreaches of the pledge appended to the ion in Virginia, and in most parts of the written examination. In the course of South, distinguish between the two. time, and by evolution of student public If the penalty seems severe, we must opinion, its scope has gradually widened, not forget the lie and the breach of faith until at the present time it embraces any that accompany the offense. The mere offense seriously involving the student's act of cheating is merged in the graver honor. Its latest conquest has been in offenses of falsehood and betrayal of the field of athletic sport-condemning, trust. The first may, conceivably, be as it does, participation in athletic con- committed on the spur of the moment; tests when the player is conscious of dis- but signature to the pledge afterwards qualification under the rules of amateur makes the act a deliberate falsehood. sportsmanship. The student makes no Some account of the actual methods of pledge in advance. His implied obliga- holding examinations under the system tion does not include obedience to Uni- may be not without interest. versity ordinances, nor to faculty regula- These examinations are held in one tions. All of these he may violate with- place, where all the candidates are asout infraction of the honor system, pro- sembled, and no examination may be vided his offense does not involve a lie written elsewhere. Logically, of course, or a cheat, nor otherwise a breach of the system would permit each student to faith. There are other offenses punish- select any convenient place, even his own ed by the student body, such as hazing- bedroom, for the purpose. But, as soonly one instance of which, by the way, ciety demands that its young women shall has occurred within the memory of the be chaperoned, rather to preclude the susoldest inhabitant-and wanton destruc- picion or the, appearance of evil than tion of, or injury to, University proper
from the fear of it, so, to avoid exposing ty. But these and like offenses are dealt the student to unnecessary temptation, and to preclude suspicion on the part of professor's desk. In thus passing from his fellows, all candidates prepare their the possession of the student into the examinations in the same room, and dur- hands of the professor, the paper passes ing the same hours. In this room there out of the guardianship and jurisdiction are no monitors, student committees, nor of the student body-subject, however, other detective machinery. The profes- to challenge. The paper is, of course, sor in charge considers himself on duty, read and graded by the professor alone. so long as the examination is in prog- This brings us to the administrative ress, but his function is rather as chair- side of the honor system—the procedure man of the assembly. He is in and out and punishment, in case of violation of of the room at irregular intervals, as its unwritten code. suits his convenience. His presence from The fundamental concept of the systime to time is not only a necessary part
tem is that it is a student code, interpretof the proceeding, but it testifies his in- ed and administered exclusively by the terest in the occasion, and lends it added student body. To borrow the language dignity. His presence serves the further of the University catalogue, “it imposes purpose of clearing up those obscurities no burden on the faculty. Experience that will creep into his questions, howso- has shown that the students themselves ever carefully set. But neither in theory are its sternest guardians and executors.” nor in practice does he play the role of Feeling intense pride in this exercise of detective. Such a rôle would in itself be the governmental function, they are a flagrant violation of the system, and keenly jealous of any interference with would be resented by the student body their prerogatives on the part of the with indignant protest.
faculty. The consequence is that from As the professor is at liberty to leave the inception of the system, in 1812, to the room at pleasure, so the students the present time, there is ng trace, either freely exercise the same privilege. But, on the faculty records or in the memory since every student appreciates the deli- of its oldest member, of faculty action cacy of the situation, he is careful not against a student for a violation of the to incur the risk of criticism by going
honor system. unaccompanied to his room, or absenting Under the system as it prevails at the himself for any considerable period from University of Virginia, any student who the observation of his fellows. The observes another cheating on examinaaverage student would as little think of tion, or otherwise violating the code of going to his chambers without a com- honor, is under a moral obligation to panion, as a high-bred daughter of so- his fellows to report the circumstance ciety would visit, unchaperoned, the promptly to such members of his class as apartments of her bachelor suitor. In- he may desire to call in consultation. deed, I know nothing with which one This self-constituted committee makes a may more aptly compare the cleanness secret investigation of the circumstances. and delicate decorum exacted of its sub- If this inquisition seems to develop a jects by the honor system than that prima facie case, the committee calls upwhich the best society demands of its on the suspected student for an explawomen.
nation. Should this explanation prove At the end of his examination paper satisfactory, there is an end of the case. each student appends the prescribed Should the explanation be not satisfacpledge, and deposits the paper upon the tory, the accused is given the choice of