I am a senior, with three years of large, introductory premed science classes behind me, and I can honestly say that I have never been witness to any foul play in the context of midterm examinations.
I think it is fair to say that cheating would be more likely to surface in these large weeder science classes than in smaller, more intimate classes by virtue of ease of getting caught and fear of failure, so my impression of the conduct in these classes should be taken merely as a positive indicator of Honor Code compliance. Does that mean that a problem does not exist? No.
The majority of the Honor Code violations that have been distributed in our S.U. boxes semiannually, however, seem to have involved plagiarism of some sort, and not cheating on tests. I am of the opinion that the system, as it pertains to classroom examinations has, in the large, functioned effectively, and I cannot envision any modifications that would improve its structure.
There will always be a few cheaters among us who look for the easy way out; nonetheless, from my own experiences and observations, I have found that most Williams students are marked by a sense of high morality and scruples. Furthermore, any bid to enforce fair play in the classroom undermines the maturity and integrity that define the Williams student.
Regarding plagiarism, the problem is more serious, as evidenced in the significant number of students who have been charged and found guilty of this offense year after year. I believe that the issue is not one of active defiance of Honor Code guidelines, but rather a passive ignorance of the rules of the game.
Time and time again, we read or hear about students who claim they were unaware they had committed plagiarism.
I strongly believe that a formal education on citing sources is absolutely imperative if we wish to cut down the incidence rate of this serious offense. I think we should incorporate a section on Honor Code guidelines in our popular English 101 classes, so that ignorance is no longer an option.
In sum, I do not feel that the Honor Code needs to be changed. I feel that it needs to be communicated to all students in such a way that it becomes more of a focal point in the academic experience at Williams.