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April 03, 1926 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 1926-04-03

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Faculty Opinion Varies Widely
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On Possibility o Is Michigan Too Large For True "Esprit
Success Reported In Medical, Engineering Schools





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President Little
(An Interview)
Expressing the belief that the reasons for dis-
honesty on the part of University students are cap-
able of correction, President Clarence Cook Little
believes "the main difficulty with the present sys-
tem rests in the students' dissatisfaction with the
methods of conducting examinations and the purely
mathematical form of gradation."
"iIf we were able to secure a system whereby the
stident was not subject to a mere mathematical
teans of grading, a system whereby there was not
consciously or unconsciously an allotment of a cer-
tain percentage of passing and failing marks, the
student would not be so tempted to cheat," continued
Ptesident Little. "When he realizes that there will
be only a definite number, of marks of 'A' given in
the course and he sees someone cheating in an ex-
amination, he is apt to feel that he must go the other
student one better by attempting to 'out-cheat' him.
"It is becauseof the dissatisfaction with the pre-
ent system of examinations and grading that the
joint committee of faculty members and students wa
appointed recently to make recommendations for
possible changes which might be beneficial. If this
committee reports that it believe some change ad-
visable and suggests some new plan which might
be adopted, the administration will take this new
plan under very careful consideration and may pos-
sibly give it a trial.
"The successes or failures of the honor system at
other institutions are interesting," continued Presi-
dent Lit-tie, "but they do not necessarily contain the
whole story. The question is whether some plan
may be devised which will place the student code of
honor on the same plane or a higher plane than that
observed by men and women the world over.
"Neither the instructor nor the student prefers th
present plan where dishonesty is practiced; the fac-
ulty man does not like to be continually playing the
part of the proctor or policeman, and the student
does not like to be watched with suspicion, so I see
no reason why some new plan should not eventually
be adopted."
Dean Hugh Cabot
In general, I am a profound believer in the Honor
System. That it works satisfactory in the schools,
ruch as the Medical School, seems to me to have
been clearly demonstrated. The experience of the
college of Engineering with the Honor System seems
to me to have shown drat it is an important im-
provement over the so-called "proctor ,system."
These things being true, I am inclined to look with
favor upon its adoption, 1perhaps with some modii-
Ottlon, in the College of Literature, Science, and the
Arts. In such a large unit, it will be, at least, an
interesting experiment in the value of public opinion,
because after all, the honor System is based upon
public opinion. I should hesitate to believe that the
public opinion of this large group of students would
not favor honesty and decency, since there is large
evidence to show 'that the present method, which
fivolves chronic distrust upon both sides, does not
work with entire satisfaction. I doubt whether the
Honor System could work worse, and am very hope-
ful that it would work much better. I should in-
cline to try it. Hugh Cabot.
Prof. C. H. Cooley
To the Editor:
We should all be grateful for the animated and
courteous letter of Mr. Jesse Lynch Williams re-
garding the honor system. The views expressed in
it are not fundamentally very different, I think, from
my own, certainly the facts he gives concerning
Princeton illustrate admirably the point I was try-
ing to make in the remarks to my class of which
the article in the Daily was meant to be a report.
That point was that honor is essentially a group phe-
nomenon, that if th-e intimate circle in whose eyes
you see your conduct reflected cherishes whol-
heartedly a certain standard of honor you will be

honorable according to that standard; or if you
have 'any inclination to wander from it the group
will know how to bring you back. Students are
quite as honorable as other people, and if student
groups have this whole-hearted belief that honor re-
quires honesty in examinations the honor system
will be .effective; otherwise not. It is a gregarious

to be more acceptable in some institutions or depart-
ments than in others, and if possible to influence
those conditions. This calls for detailed study of
the traditions and other factors of social psychology
which form the ideas of students in the specific in-
stitution. 'Such a study (the first of its kind to be
made anywhere) has been made for Michigan by
Robert C. Angell in his Doctor's thesis on "The
Student Mind" which contains an illuminating dii-
cussion of the honor question.
--Charles I. Cooley.
Dean Gauss, Princeton
"The honor system at Princeton has been an un-
qualified success. We have, during the war and
since, passed through many crises and changes in
our course of study, the organization of our student
life, and our manner of handling discipline. At no
time during this period when everything else was
questioned was any question ever raised on this
score; with- us it is pivotal. I have never found a
Princeton alumnus or undergraduate who was not
deeply committed to the system. He cherishes it as
one of the most distinctive features of the college.
There can be no doubt of its value in keying up our
morale and keeping it high.
"The success of our honor system lies entirely in
the fact that it is not a faculty system. It was notim-
posed from above; it is the system of the undergrad-
uates and an offense against it is an offense against
them. To violate the pledge is therefore the uu-
pardonable, sin in the undergraduate's code. The
faculty have nothing to do with its enforcement.
Cases of suspected dishonesty may be and are re-
ferred to the undergraduate committee.
"During twenty-one years of teaching, including
thirteen years as chairman of a large department, I
have known of two cases of suspicious papers. One

of them was detected by the undergraduates them-
selves and the student dismissed. The other was
referred to the committee by a member of my depart-
ment, possibly on insufficient grounds, and no action
was taken. I do not believe there have been many,
if any, cases of undetected violation in our depart-
ment in these thirteen years.
"The Princeton attitude could not be better ex-
pressed than in the communication by Jesse Lynch
Williams in The Daily of March 27. I would like
to see this feature of his Alma Mater adopted ul
mine. It works where you have confidence in it anl
where you develop in undergraduates, and where
undergraduates develop in themselves, a sense of
corporate responsibility.
Christian Gauss, '98,
Princeton, N. J."'

Miss Hamilton continued by explaining the above
statement. "If a professional student," she said,
"overlooks dishonesty among his classmates, he real-
izes that he is hurting the reputation of his profes-
sion, because eventually these dishonest students will
gain admittance to it. There is too much self in-
terest involved, and for this reason the honor system
is successful, for the honest students will insist
that the others live up to their standards."
There is, at present, a provision invade by the
faculty of the University for examinations on the
honor system. Some years ago, according to Miss
Hamilton, Robert C. Angell of the sociology depart-
ment drew up a plan whereby students in a course
could sign a petition requesting the honor system in
an examination, present it to the head of the course,
and receive permission. This plan was passed by a
formal vote of the faculty, but seldom, if ever, has
advantage been taken of it.

Dean Hamilton

(An Interview)
"Although I have never had any direct experience
with' the honor system in examinations, I highly
approve of such a system," stated Miss Jean Ham-
ilton, Dean of Women, Tuesday. "AC least," she
continued, "it would work as well as the system we
have now. Small colleges and universities find it
very successful, but that may be due to the fact
that students in such institutions have a keener sense
of personal responsibility. Here in a large uni-
versity, students feel less personal responsibility,
which makes the operation of such a system more
"I should be very isterested to see the honor sys-
tem tried here at the University of Michigan. As far
as I have heard it is very successful in the engineer-
ing school, though of course the fact that these
students are preparing for i profession may alter
the situation."

Dean Effinger

. The question of an honor system in the conduct of
examinations has been discussed many times in the
College of Literature, Science, and the Arts. The
general opinion repeatedly expressed in regard to
the matter has been that such a system, to be suc-
cessful, must be one which ij demanded with prac-
tical unanimity by the student body, and for which
it would assure an effective administration. Such a
system would necessarily involve, it seems 'to me, an
agreement on the part of each student to report
promptly to a student honor committee all cases of
dishonesty which came within the range of his ob-
In the spring of 1921, a request from the senior
class for the adoption of an honor system in all
classes not exceeding 50 in enrollment, and in whic1i
senior and graduate students predominated, was

* onor
Entire satisfaction with the Honor System as a
means of conducting examinations and written
quizzes in the engineering college, where it has
been in force for ten years, was expressed by the
deans and faculty members of the college, with the
belief that its success is due entirely to student
responsibility and control.
After agitation for the movement the preceding
year, the Honor System was adopted in the engineer-
ing college in January, 1916, by a vote of the stu-
dents and subsequent consent of the faculty. It re-
ceived immediate trial in the semester examinations,
after which the studlents declared in questionnaires
that less cheating had resulted and that they wished
to continue the system.
By the cardinal principle of the system as it is in
force in the engineering college, it is dishonorable
for a student to receive credit for work which is not
his, or which is obtained by discredited means. As
expressed in the Declaration of Principles adopted
by the students in 1916, the propositions on which
the system is based are as follows:
First, it is neither honest nor fair to fellow class-
men for a student to receive aid in a written quiz
or examination.
Second, the prevention of dishonesty in examina-
tions shall be in the hands of the students rather
than the faculty.
Third, it is the duty of all students to uphold these
principles in word and act.
These principles have widened and extended since
1916 to govern all work done by students. It is held
a violation of the code to hand in for credit themes,
drawing plates, or any other work, which is not the
product of the person submitting it.
The student honor committee is the center of the
system, its purpose being to handle violations re-
ported to it, and to introduce the Honor System each
year to the freshman class. The committee consists
of nine men, two from each of the three lower
classes, and three from the senior class. By the
election of one man every year in each class, except
the freshman, four men are retained in the group
who have had one year's experience. The officers
are chosen from the junior representatives, with the
chairman serving as an advisor during his senior
Regarding the origin and the success of the sys-
tem, Dean Mortimer E. Cooley of the Colleges of
Engineering and Architecture made the following



examination room Monday morning complete direc-
"It was realized from the outset that in order to be
successful the responsibility must be wholly on the
students. The faculty could have no part except to
carry out the students' wishes. After writing the
questions on the blackboard the teacher explained
any points not wholly clear and remained in the
room or left, as the students voted. It was their
choice. Except in. i few instances the teacher was
requested to leave and now he is never present.
The corner stone of the Honor System is student
responsibility, the fa ty keeping absolutely out
of it.
"I do not think anyone would claim that, our
Honor System has been 100 per cent perfect. Prob-
ably it has been considerably under for the most
part. At the same time I think practically everyone
would say that the results have been well above
those obtained under the proctor system. Person-
ally, I believe that the number who deliberately
cheat is small-well inside of 10 per cent, possibly
of 5 per cent. I have great faith in the honesty of
our students once they realize their responsibilities
and appreciate that in cheating they cheat only
"Perhaps the greatest good of the Honor System is
in the increased self-respect felt by the student.
He meets you in a different way-as man to man.
The expressions of opinion, volun-
tary and solicited, in this section are
published as a result of the steadily
increasing discussion of the Honor
System in examinations and the possi-
bility of its application in the Univer-
sity as a whole.
That interest in an all-campus
honor System has reached large pro-
portions is evidenced in comment
aroused by a communication recently
published in The Daily, and, further,
by the creation of a faculty-student
committee, among whose duties is the
investigation of the University's pres-
ent examination -system.
In preparing this section for pub-
lication, impartiality in selecting ma-
terial on the Honor System question*

le seeks no favors and asks for only the things he
feels he is entitled to receive. le unconsciously
walks with his head higher up, looks one squarely
in the eye and gives one the impression that he
feels a sense of ownership in the things about him.
He is jealous of the prestige of his college, resents
reflections, and fights if necessary. He impresses
me as one who is proud of himself and of his in-
stitution and anxious to do everything lie can to-
wards upholding its reputation. In short, there is, I
fancy, much the same spirit as exists in our college;
"I Lave the feeling that not a little has been con-
tributed to the success of our Honor System by the
practice of our classes meeting regularly in assem-
bly. There are class-meetings in .which practically
the entire class takes part. Students are excused
from other exercises in order to attend. A fine class
spirit results and college life proceeds more orderly.
Not once this year, and very rarely for several years,
has it been necessary to take any disciplinary steps
for conduct unbecoming a gentleman.
"I am wholeheartedly in favor of the Honor Sys-
tem when left completely in the hands of the stu-
dents themselves.
M. E. Cooley."

adopted by the Literary Faculty, and later the plan
was amended to include juniors. The reason for be-
ginning in small classes was given in the student
report which the Faculty adopted:
(a) "To insure the success of the system at the
start, since there is naturally a greater unity In
smaller classes and among seniors.
(b) "Although the system is, perhaps, in small
classes, less necessary than in large ones, yet it is
essential to promulgate the idea and create a spirit
in its favor by starting with smaller units."
So far as I know, few, if any, classes ever took
advantage of the honor examination as provided for
in this plan. The matter was discussed by a few
students who were really interested in it, the Faculty
met them halfway and adopted the scheme they pro-
posed, and instructors were asked to inform their
classes as to the conditions under which this honor
scheme could be tested. This information was given,
not only at the end ofihe semester during which the
discussion took place, but subsequently. As there
was no interest in the idea, such notices were dis-
It is to be hoped,' however, that the present re-
vival of discussion concerning the matter will lead
to something. The material conditions under which
it is now necessary to give nany of our examinations
preclude, in my opinion, the successful operation of
any honor scheme for all classes. I do believe, how-
ever, that it would be possible to make a beginning
along the lines suggested by the class of '21.
As Mr. Jesse Lynch Williams said in his recent
letter in The Daily, on this subject, "It has to be
started and run by the students themselves or it is
likely not to work at all." I would add to this that
there must also be such a moral sense among a ma-
jority of the students concerned, that they would
be unwilling to tolerate dishonesty once it was dis-
covered. An honor system under which there is no
more dishonesty than there was without it does not
deserve the name.
John R. Effinger.
Dean Lloyd
Do I favor the Honor System so-called? Hitherto
I always have. I believe in examinations heartily,
when they are real tests. I believe that real stu-
dents tare willing to submit to real tests. I believe
preparation of an examination paper to be one of a
professor's very special duties, calling for most
special attention and "uninhibited ability." The
questions should be printed, a copy for every stu-
dent. The examination rooms should not be crowd-
ed. As to the Honor System, I should now consent
cordially to its introduction or extension, should the
students again propose it and suggest a reasonable
and feasible plan. Still, I have to confess that with
the University now so large and so complex, per-
haps especially in the undergraduate colleges, I am
no longer as hopeful as I used to be of the students'
ability to handle the matter. If a practicable plan
should not be proposed, I should favor stricter pro-
cedure on the part of the faculties. Strictness in-
sults no one. It reminds some. It protects all.
Alfred H. Lloyd.
Dean Bates
I would be very glad if we could have an effective-
"honor system" in examinations' in the University.
In fact, on three occasions in the past the law faculty
has suggested to the students that they consider the
adoption of the honor system in the Law school.
The students were asked to consider the matter and
then to vote upon the proposition, and upon each
occasion a majority of the votes cast was against
the adoption of the plan. As nearly as 1 could gage
the feeling thus expressed, it was that the students
felt that it was not their business nor their respon-
sibility to conduct examinations; and a majority of
them were unwilling to run the risk of the effects
of possible cheating upon (a) the relative standing
of the students who did not cheat, and (b) the unfair
advantage which the dishonest student might have in
obtaining a position on the basis of his examination
It sems to me that the honor system could not
possibly work well unless it had the strong sup-
port of a large majority of the students, and that
the students ought not to vote upon the question
without thinking out -carefully the whole problem
and the possibilities both of benefit and of harm.
Among other things these considerations should

be taken into account:
(1) A successful honor system would make
for a fine spirit of cooperation on the campus.
(2) It would tend to develop a sense of honor
in all things.
(3) It would relieve the faculty of unpleas-
ant use of their time, which they would gladly


Dean George W. Patterson of the engineering col-
lege issued the following statement on the Honor
"It is now more than ten years since the engineer-
ing undergraduates asked that the Honor System
he admitted to our college. During that time more
than two generations of undergraduates have passed
through the college .and the system is no longer
dependent on the impetus given by those who pro-
posed it.
"The feeling of the faculty at first was one of
scepticism; the Honor System was admitted without
very high hopes of its success, but with the idea that
it probably would hot be worse than reliance on
proctoring in examinations.
"After ten years of operation, I am convinced
that as a support the undergraduates' honor is no
broken reed. True, there are undoubtedly dishonest
students whose dishonesty is not discovered and
punished by the student honor committee, just as
there were formerly others not discovered by the
instructor; but there is a great gain in the changed
attitude of the rest of the student body, which
formerly was one of disinterested neutrality and has
become one -of positive opposition to dishonest

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