Honor System

As members of the Bluffton University community, we commit to being honest, trustworthy and honorable in our actions and relationships with each other both in and out of the classroom. 

We agree to commit to learning and living in an environment where the values of honor, honesty and integrity are fundamental to the way we choose to live and learn. These foundational concepts have been an integral part of the university community since 1918. Subsequent generations of students, faculty and staff have continued to support and value this culture of mutual respect and trust. The Honor System places responsibility of honesty and integrity on each member of the community. Everyone has responsibility for ensuring that all academic work, by self and others, is conducted in ways that are reflective of these values.

Common understanding of our mutual commitment as a community is informed by a desire to live and learn in an environment based upon respect and trust. As a demonstration of this commitment as it relates to academic work, students are not proctored while taking examinations and write and sign the following pledge: "I am unaware of any inappropriate aid having been given or received for this exam." The commitment to academic integrity is also extended to written work and is demonstrated through students writing and signing this pledge: "I attest that that this work is my own and that the ideas of others are cited." It is expected that students will act honorably and will report any known or suspected violations of the honor system by themselves or others in all academic work.

In all cases, if a student cannot in good conscience sign the pledge, the student should notify the course instructor. In the event that the pledge is left unsigned and the student has not contacted the instructor, the course instructor will contact the student.

Cheating, plagiarism, fabricating, facilitating (intentionally providing inappropriate assistance to others), and misrepresentation are considered serious violations of the honor system. Each of these forms of dishonesty work against our community commitment to be honest, trustworthy and honorable in our actions and relationships with each other. Resolution of violations may take place within the context of the course or through the campus conduct system.

The honor system not only describes our expectations related to academic integrity; it is understood that the spirit of the honor system is meant to pervade all aspects of campus life. This ideal environment of mutual trust and respect for one another in all aspects of our community life is central to our desire to be a community of respect and is reflected in the Bluffton University Community of Respect Statement:

Community of Respect

Bluffton strives to be a community of respect where everyone is held in mutual high regard. Our belief that every human being is created in the image of God demands that we recognize in each human being that divine spark, and that all of us welcome and celebrate the diversity in which we have been created as children of God. As members of the Bluffton University community, we strive to treat with respect each member of the community. Our standards of campus conduct are based on the mutual respect we believe we are committed to extend to each other.

Procedures and Practices Relating to the Honor System
In order to fulfill our commitment to the Honor System, faculty members are to do the following:

  1. Place the exam pledge at the end of exams, rather than at the beginning.
  2. Specify what materials and devices, other than the exam and a writing implement, are needed by students for an examination.
  3. Withdraw from the classroom once the examinations are distributed unless the nature of the exam requires the presence of the faculty member. Faculty members are encouraged to return to the exam room periodically to respond to students' questions or for other legitimate purposes.
  4. Include the assignment pledge as part of the requirement for student papers and lab reports. Wording may be adapted to a particular assignment as desired.
  5. Follow the procedures outlined in the section titled "Processing of Honor System Violations."

Faculty members are asked to consider practices such as the following that decrease the opportunities for cooperative cheating and make it easier for students to see when cheating occurs.

  1. Ensure that students are spread throughout the classroom.
  2. Produce an exam in two or more versions that can be distributed alternately through the room.
  3. Request a larger room for examinations if needed.

Processing of Honor System Violations
Dishonest behavior during an examination: Dishonest behavior can be detected by a student or by a faculty member. If a student knows of or suspects dishonest behavior on an examination, s/he should not sign the honor pledge and should contact the course instructor. If a faculty member receives an examination in which the pledge is not signed, the faculty member should follow the procedures outlined below. If the faculty member is the one who suspects dishonest behavior, s/he should follow the relevant steps.

  1. If a faculty member receives and examination without a signed pledge, the faculty member should contact the student who did not sign the pledge as soon as possible. The student should be contacted privately rather than publicly to protect the student's anonymity. The student and the faculty member should discuss the reason for not signing the pledge. If there is suspicion of dishonest behavior, the student should be assured that his/her name will not be revealed without his/her consent. The student's identity would only be revealed if there is reason for campus conduct procedures and the student wants to be further involved.
  2. The faculty member should then contact the student who is suspected of having engaged in dishonest behavior to discuss the concern.
    1. If the student agrees that s/he engaged in dishonest behavior, the faculty member should impose a sanction that is appropriate within the context of the course. Sanctions may include, though are not limited to, receiving a failing grade on the examination or failing the course, depending on the nature of the violation. The sanction should be at least as severe as that for failure to take the examination. The dean of students should be notified of the violation and the student who originally reported the violation should be informed that the situation has been resolved.
    2. If the student claims that s/he did not violate the honor system and the faculty member has reason to suspect that the honor system was violated, the faculty member will not impose a sanction but will report the alleged violation to the dean of students. The dean of students will talk with the student. If the student still does not agree that the honor system was violated, the dean of students will follow the conduct procedures (see campus conduct system). The dean of students will notify the faculty member and all students involved when the case is resolved.
    3. If the student claims s/he did not violate the honor system and the faculty member does not suspect that s/he violated the honor system, the faculty member should report the incident to the dean of students and inform the student reporting the violation that s/he may carry the concern directly to the dean of students.

Dishonest behavior on assignments: If a student knows of or suspects dishonest behavior in completing class assignments, s/he should not sign the assignment pledge. The faculty member and student should discuss the concern and then follow the procedures outlined above. If a faculty member suspects dishonest behavior in completing class assignments, s/he should proceed with the relevant steps outlined above.

Plagiarism statement

Bluffton University defines plagiarism as the intentional or unintentional use of the intellectual or creative property of another without permission and/or attribution.

For a more in depth explanation of plagiarism, this link may prove helpful:

Reasons for giving credit for the work of others:

  1. Respect and fairness: The obvious one is that not to do so is dishonest, at odds with the honor system under Bluffton University operates and in a broader sense out of harmony with what we believe are the laws of God and people as well.
  2. Valuing knowledge and readers: Identifying sources enables your readers to follow the material you used if they want more detailed information.
  3. Valuing ongoing conversations: Learning to be part of the ongoing conversations of humanity means learning to use, synthesize, evaluate and critique the prior work of others.

Examples of citation formats are available in the composition handbook, Rules for Writers by Diana Hacker, and online through the Purdue University Online Writing Lab, https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/purdue_owl.html .

Approved by UAPC October 29, 2018

Dean of students follow-up: The dean of students will keep a record of violations of the honor system in the student's file. When a second violation is reported to the dean of students, she/he will meet with the student and, depending on the nature of the violation, will impose an additional sanction for the pattern of behavior. Typical sanctions would include community service and/or writing a paper on academic dishonesty. Repeated violations of the honor system will lead to suspension from Bluffton University.

Approved by faculty November 7, 2011