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Taking Responsibility for Honor

Administration: It isn’t right that so many upper school students said in our recent interviews that they don’t know what the Honor Code policy is. Purple yarn bracelets, mute signs in classrooms, and even bold print in the student handbook won’t do the job. We need better, clearer education about the Honor Code policy. As far as we’re concerned, it should start tomorrow.

Fellow students: Yes, the administration should do a better job educating all of us about the Honor Code. But do you need a law to tell you that killing is wrong? Do you need your mom to tell you to not hit your siblings? No. Of course we don’t need someone to tell us that these actions are morally intolerable – we know that on our own. Laws are created in our society prohibiting these actions only to reinforce a general acceptance by society that they are wrong.

In the same way, Marlborough’s Honor Code basically articulates what we all already know. Don’t cheat. Do your own work. So why do we find that so many students are beginning to doubt the code, and that some even admit to breaking it? A recent poll by the UV showed that the majority of upper-school students, when asked to rate their trust in the Honor Code on a five point scale, gave twos, threes, and fours. For a school that is supposedly held together by honor, we would hope that most students would have absolute faith in this fundamental principle. So why have so many lost faith?

Perhaps it is the immense academic pressure that causes students to occasionally choose what is easy over what is honorable. After all, we are just kids and we do make mistakes, which is why we rely on the rules to keep us on-track. The pressure is real, and we’re all only human. But that can become a lazy excuse. Really, we should know that begging for an extension or even getting a C is better than cheating.

In the same way that we need to take responsibility for handling the pressure with honor, we should also be mature enough to rise above the rumor-mongering. We’ve all heard the infamous rumor that stealing a pencil results in expulsion, but if the code is explicitly read, that statement is obviously false.

It is these rumors about frivolous crimes with capital punishment that result in students disregarding the code. When we spread rumors, the bonds of trust within our community begin to disintegrate.

As a strong, honorable student body, we need to take personal responsibility to know and uphold the Honor Code in order to create trust and respect amongst each other. We are like a Jenga tower: if one piece falls out, we all fall down with it.