An anonymous Williams professor writes:

1) My impression, informed by years of experience (and not just at Williams), is that more senior faculty, less wise to the ways of the internet, are far less likely to catch out cheating on term papers than their younger colleagues. So as Div I and Div II profs get younger in the years to come there will be more complaints of cheating in general.

2) Despite Honor Code histrionics, penalties for cheating at Williams are lenient compared to other institutions I’ve taught at. Even clearly guilty students are regularly acquitted by the committee, or treated with incredible indulgence. And the goals of the committee are often unclear. Frequently professors with incidents before the honor committee feel that they themselves have been subjected to trial and scrutiny. This is true even though professors are told over and over that they have no discretion in reporting suspicious incidents.

3) More on that lack of professorial discretion: Because profs are required to report all suspicious incidents, it is the committee chairs who decide whether to go forward in any given case. Incidents will fluctuate from year to year based upon the sensitivity and concerns of the committee chairs. Any increase in honors cases is just as likely to reflect the differing sentiments of the people running this show.

4) “Cheating is on the rise!” has been a refrain of the honor code crowd since I arrived at Williams and it has grown tiresome, particularly to the degree that it provides occasion for people like Shevchenko to pontificate about what I ought to be telling my students.

5) The pseudo-judicial process conducted by the Honor Committee is largely hidden, with all parties sworn to silence. The honor code hyperventilators thus participate in a system of sanctions that is for the most part out of view, and yet they wish their toy trials to have deterrent effects nevertheless. Thus faculty are enjoined to bang the plagiarism drum in their seminars so that the Honor Code people can have their cake and eat it too.

Would other Williams professors like to comment?

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