Honor System

Reporting Suspected Violations

Reporting potential violations of the honor code is essential to our academic integrity. If you have any reason to believe that the honor code has been violated, even if the suspected violation would be minor, then the best thing to do is to inform the Student or Faculty Chair of the Honor Committee as soon as possible. It is the committee’s responsibility alone to determine whether or not an honor code violation has occurred.

For Faculty and TAs

If you have any reason to suspect one of your students has violated the honor code on any assignment, you must contact the Faculty Chair of the Honor Committee.

For reasons of equity across the student body, suspected infractions must be taken to the Honor Committee and may not be dealt with by the instructor. Faculty have no discretion. The College decided many years ago that a laissez-faire outcome would be fundamentally unfair: different instructors might interpret an identical case in wildly differing ways, so the same infraction gets, in one class, a failure on the assignment, on another a talking-to, on a third the benefit of the doubt and a chance for a do-over, and so on. In addition, faculty cannot know if the student already has a long record of disciplinary problems and is even, in fact, on probation, or does/not have a turbulent family life as claimed.

Basic equity means that like cases are treated alike. Only the Dean’s Office and the Honor Committee have the context and track record to determine which cases are alike.

Please keep in mind that TAs and faculty members are only responsible for reporting potential infractions. Faculty are not responsible for determining innocence, guilt, or even whether a hearing should be convened. As a result, you do not have to be completely sure whether an infraction has occurred, but you are obligated to report any suspicious assignments or behavior. It is up to the Faculty Chair, in cooperation with the Student Chair and the Dean of the College, to determine whether to proceed with a hearing.

For classmates

If you suspect that someone in your class has violated the honor code, you should contact either your professor, the Student Chair, or the Faculty Chair of the Honor Committee as soon as possible. Once the chairs are notified (by you or by your professor), they will meet with you to go over the evidence or story to see whether your concern is something that should be brought to a hearing. Your professor does not need to have witnessed or otherwise been aware of the suspected infraction in order to report your suspicion to the committee.

You don’t need to be completely sure that the honor code has been violated to report your suspicion, it is the committee’s responsibility alone to decide whether or not an infraction has occurred.

For other scenarios (roommates, strangers, etc.)

While you may or may not know someone who you suspect of violating the honor code, it is your responsibility as a Williams student to report any suspicious behavior. Our honor code specifically describes this obligation. Many students have come forward to report potential infractions made by other students whom they did and did not know. It is a difficult responsibility, but one that is essential for maintaining our integrity as students and as an institution.

To report an infraction, contact either the Student or Faculty Chair of the Honor Committee.