What is the Honor System? 

The Honor System at the College of Charleston has two parts – the Honor Code and the Code of Conduct. The system governs student academic and civic behavior.

Where can I get more information on the Honor System?

The Student Handbook contains complete information on the Honor System at the College and is available from the Office of the Dean of Students or online at http://deanofstudents.cofc.edu/honor-system/studenthandbook/index.php

Who deals with violations?

Students accused of violations of the Honor Code and Code of Conduct may appear before the Honor Board of the College of Charleston. Usually all Honor Code violations are dealt with by the Honor Board, however, Code of Conduct violations may be dealt with by a single administrator from the Division of Student Affairs or the Department of Residence Life.

What is the Honor Board?

The Honor Board is a body of students, faculty, and staff of the College that hears cases involving alleged violations of the Honor Code and the Code of Conduct. The Board conducts hearings, determines whether the accused student has violated the Code, and issues sanctions. Hearings may take place before either a full Board (3 students, 1 faculty and 1 staff) or a single administrator.

What are the punishments for Code violation?

Two types of sanctions may be applied – Punitive or Educational. Punitive sanctions for violations range from letters of warning up to permanent expulsion from the College. Educational sanctions may include substance abuse counseling or community service. 

Can any student become a member of the Honor Board?

Yes. The Board must be representative of the student population of the College and accepts applications from all students regardless of major, year in college, gender, ethnicity, age, nationality or religion. However, there is a minimum GPA requirement (2.5), and all applicants will be interviewed. Application forms for the board are available on the Honor Board webpage.

What happens when a student is accused of violating the Honor Code or the Code of Conduct?

The Student Handbook outlines in detail the procedures for reporting and handling violations of the codes. In a nutshell, however, a report of an alleged violation is made to the Office of the Dean of Students. An official from that office then determines if the evidence is sufficient to go forward with a charge against the student. The accused student will be notified of the allegation and must meet with the official within 48 hours of notification. The student will be told of their rights and the procedures to follow. The case is then sent before the Honor Board.

Will I be allowed to defend myself against accusations?

Yes! All accused students are given the opportunity to present their case to the Board. Accused students may choose an honor advisor to help them through the process, but must speak for themselves! No one will be allowed to speak for you at a hearing, but you may provide as many witnesses as you wish to establish your innocence or to speak to your character.

What criteria must be met for a student to be found “in violation” of the Codes?

The Honor System does not require proof “beyond a reasonable doubt.” This system is based on a preponderance of evidence, that is, if the Board determines that the evidence against you shows that there is a “more likely than not” chance that you committed the offence, then you will be found in violation. In other words, if in the minds of the Board members hearing your case there is a greater than 51 percent chance that you did it, then you will be found responsible.

I was found “in violation” of the Honor Code or Code of Conduct, but I didn't do it and these sanctions are harsh! What can I do?

There is an appeal process available to all students who come before the Board. Appeals can be made against both the findings of the board as well as the sanctions imposed by the Board. However, there are criteria for launching an appeal, for example, a violation of “due process,” of the rights of the accused, or new evidence or testimony (see Student Handbook).

If I get in trouble, will my parents and friends find out?

Almost all cases that come before the Board are kept confidential. All Board members must sign confidentiality agreements and are forbidden to discuss cases outside of the hearing room. Any Board member found violating this confidentiality agreement will be immediately removed from the Board and face charges! However, in cases involving violations of the College’s Drug and Alcohol policy by students under 21, the College exercises its right to notify parents and in cases involving crimes of violence others can be informed of the charges and outcomes.

But I didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to do that! How can you charge me for something I didn’t know about?

Ignorance of the rules is not an excuse! It is your responsibility to know the rules. As a student, you will be held accountable for contents of the Student Handbook. This means that while officially enrolled at the College, you are responsible for knowing the contents of the Student Handbook and abiding by its rules.

Who can report violations of the Honor Code or Code of Conduct?

Any member of the College Community can report violations of the Honor Code or Code of Conduct. Students may also be reported by Charleston residents! Off-campus violations of the codes can be dealt with by the Honor Board! The College reserves the right to exercise jurisdiction over off-campus activities that would violate the codes had they occurred on-campus. The codes travel with you wherever you go (Student Handbook).

My professor has guidelines in their syllabus that differ from those in the Honor Code. Which should I follow?

You must comply with the directions of your professors. The honor system upholds and enforces individual professors’ guidelines and requirements for their courses, whether they are stricter or more lenient than the code.

I think that I am being treated unfairly by my professor. What can I do?

The College provides formal procedures for student grievances. Students may file complaints against faculty, staff or administrators of the College. The Student Handbook outlines these procedures in detail.

What’s the most common violation?

By far the most frequent violation of the code is plagiarism. Many students are unclear on what constitutes plagiarism. The Student Handbook defines plagiarism as:

  • The verbatim repetition, without acknowledgement, of the writings of another author. All significant phrases, clauses or passages taken directly from source material must be enclosed in quotation marks and acknowledged either in the text itself or in footnotes/endnotes.
  • Borrowing without acknowledging the source.
  • Paraphrasing the thoughts of another writer without acknowledgement.
  • Allowing any other person or organization to prepare work which one then submits as his/her own.

      When in doubt—cite! If you don’t know—ask!

Does the College keep records of Code violations?

All conduct records are maintained by the College for seven (7) years from the time of their creation except those that result in expulsion or are pending cases, which are maintain indefinitely.  No earlier than one year after the date of sanction completion, a student may request that their conduct record be destroyed.  This stipulation does not apply to the XX+grade sanction, pending cases or expulsions. This request must be made in writing and will be reviewed by the Executive Vice President for Student Affairs.

I have a question that’s not addressed online or in the Student Handbook. Who can I ask?

Contact the Office of the Dean of Students at 843.953.5522. Your question may be included in our next FAQ posting!