The Honor Code
“As a member of the student body of Birmingham-Southern College, I recognize my responsibility to the traditions of the institution, to my fellow students and to myself. I recognize the significance of the honor system. I pledge that I have read and understand the Constitution of the Honor Council, including the Honor Code, and agree to be bound by its provisions.”
Welcome to the Honor Council Web site. In addition to enforcing the Honor Code, the Council is also charged with the task of educating the Birmingham-Southern campus community about the Honor Code. We hope this Web site will achieve this aim by providing clear, easy to find information about the Council, procedures, tips to avoid plagiarism, and other information related to the Honor Code.
Birmingham-Southern College's liberal arts philosophy emphasizes the notion that its graduates will go out into society and improve the world at large. Students at Birmingham-Southern expand their worldviews through strong bonds with faculty, lifelong friendships, and unique experiences that perhaps take them across the world. Having a foundation built upon honor and integrity is implicit in the minds of people who aspire to improve their environments. The Honor Code at Birmingham-Southern rests as the cornerstone of the campus community. By pledging not to cheat, lie, or steal, members of the campus community hold each other to a higher standard, which allows people to build trustworthy and long-lasting relationships.
Cases concerning possible violations of the Honor Code can follow two different pathways. The following is a brief description of the Class I procedures, and details can be found in the Honor Council Constitution (link). Class I cases involve the full, 15-member Council. Hearings are presided by the President of the Council and recorded by the Secretary. One member of the Council serves as the Presenter, which consists of providing information about the case. Another Council member serves as the Advisor to the accused student, even though the student has the right to have any member of the campus community serve as an Advisor.
Since the Council is not a legal body, lawyers cannot be present unless the student is charged with a felony crime. The student has two options before a hearing begins—to plead in violation or not in violation to the possible Honor Code violation. If the student pleads not in violation, a factual hearing takes place, which involves witnesses and questioning of the student by the Council. Then the Council deliberates in order to determine if there is clear and convincing evidence that a violation of the Honor Code occurred.
If a violation of the Honor Code took place, or the student initially pleads in violation, then a sanctions hearing occurs. A Sanctions hearing also involves a Presenter and advisor as well as relevant witnesses to the case. Once questioning of the witnesses and student has completed, the Council deliberates to determine appropriate sanctions. The Council has the ability to expel the student from the College, suspend the student for up to three terms, or assign the student probation for a specific amount of time. The Council can also require educational sanctions such as Writing Center visits and completion of plagiarism tutorials. The student has ten days to appeal any decision by the Council to the President of the College.
The Class II system was put in place under the assumption that all cases are different and some instances constitute minor violations of the Honor Code. This allows for “teaching moments” between a student and faculty member. The student must admit to violating the Honor Code and discuss with the faculty member about an appropriate sanction. The President and two rotating members of the Council review the Class II cases. If at any point the student, faculty member, or Council feels uncomfortable with sanctions, they may bump the case up to Class I for a full hearing. Even though the line between Class I and Class II cases can be blurry, some examples of Class II cases include plagiarism on homework assignments, lying about attending Cultural events, or inadvertent plagiarism on a draft to a paper. In addition, students may only use the Class II track once.