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Honor Code

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Honor Council?

The Honor Council is a student group, elected annually by the student body of Rice University, that hears and decides upon cases of academic fraud at the undergraduate level.

Who are Honor Council members?

The Honor Council is entirely comprised of students. Each college elects a representative to the council, and each class elects additional representatives. In addition to class and college representatives, “at-large” student representative positions are also available at the undergraduate level. Finally, new-student representatives are also elected at the beginning of each school year.

How do you become an Honor Council member?

The first step to becoming an Honor Council representative is to familiarize yourself with the Honor System, and the role of the Honor Council at Rice. If you are a new student, you can apply to be a new student representative in the Fall. Your college Honor Council Representative will send out a listserv notification. If you are a returning student, you can apply to be a class, college, or at-large representative in the Spring. Notification emails will be sent out when election season comes around.

How do you report a violation?

If you are aware of a violation of the Rice University Honor Code, please contact us at honor.rice.edu.

What is the Purpose of the Honor Code?

The purpose of the Honor Code, as stated in the Honor System Constitution is to “allow maximum freedom for students, undergraduate and graduate, in the completion of all academic work, and to ensure the integrity of that work.” The Honor Code protects the rights of students at Rice to complete their academic work to the best of their abilities, and to be rewarded for that work. These policies ensure that every student at Rice is held to the same high standard of integrity, and that every student’s original ideas are protected.

What is the Purpose of the Honor System Pledge?

“On my honor, I have neither given nor received any unauthorized aid on this (assignment, exam, paper, etc.).” You will write this pledge countless times throughout your Rice University career. The pledge, requested at the top of many assignments, serves as a reminder that the work you are about to submit is pledged under the Honor System, and that you are expected to put forth only work that is reflective of your original ideas and personal knowledge.

What constitutes a violation of the Honor Code?

Any breach of the academic fraud policy of Rice University constitutes an Honor Code violation. A detailed explanation of academic fraud can be found on this site under the “Honor System Handbook” tab in the section “Academic Fraud and the Honor System.” However, the four main categories of academic fraud are plagiarism, false citation, false data, and multiple submission. Any incident falling into one of these four categories will constitute an Honor Code violation. In addition to academic fraud, any violation of an instructor’s specific course Honor Code policy will also constitute a violation. For this reason, it is paramount to read and understand the Honor Code policy for every course that you take. You may also be accused of an Honor Code violation for being aware of a violation that has occurred, and failing to report it to the Honor Council.

Who can accuse you of an Honor Code violation?

An Honor Council accusation can be submitted by any faculty or student at Rice.

What happens if you are accused?

If you have been accused of an Honor Code violation, you will be notified via email by the Honor Council Chair. Once you receive this email, you will coordinate with your Ombuds to schedule your investigation. Once you schedule the investigative meeting, you must attend. Failure to attend a meeting without rescheduling first can result in the possible penalty of suspension. The purpose of the investigation is to reveal the nature of the accusation to the accused student, to review the position of the accused student under the Honor System, and to decide whether enough evidence exists or can be gathered for a full panel to make an accurate decision of “in violation” or “not in violation” at a hearing. If the investigative panel decides that enough evidence exists for your case to move forward to a hearing, then you will schedule your hearing. At the hearing, a panel of six Honor Council members will hear your testimony, review evidence, and ask you any questions they have. Following the meeting, the council will decide whether you are in violation or not in violation. If you are found in violation, the panel will proceed to discuss appropriate penalties for the case.

How does the Council vote?

To find a student “In Violation,” the council must have a unanimous vote of all six members on the hearing panel. To agree on an appropriate penalty for the case, the members must reach a 2/3 majority. We do, however, always strive for unanimity in our penalty decisions as well.

What is an Ombuds?

An ombuds is a student representative assigned to each accused student. The ombuds acts as a procedural guide to students throughout the course of their Honor Council case. Ombuds are there to answer any questions you, as the accused student, may have. In addition, your ombuds is present at every deliberation, testimony, and penalty deliberation to ensure that the Honor Council is following all its procedures.

Can you accuse yourself?

Yes. If you have committed a violation of the Honor Code you may self-accuse. In fact, in the event that you submit a self-accusation that is deemed unprompted and in good faith, the Council may not consider suspension as a penalty.

What if you have more questions?

If you have any more questions about the Honor Code, please feel free to email the External Vice Chair (please see “The Council” tab for contact information).