Voices of Experience

View letters from students from the 2000-2001 academic year:

letter # 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16


#1  The following letter was written by a student who was found “responsible” for an academic honor code violation during the 2000-01 school year.  The letter appears exactly as the student wrote it; no corrections have been made.


Dear Freshmen,


            As a senior here at Elon, preparation for graduation was the only thing on my mind.  Fall semester was coming to an end, and my only duty left as a student was to prepare for my final exams.  As everyone knows, studying for exams are an extremely stressful period of time for college students.  My first exam began on a Saturday, and I was not as prepared as one should be for an exam.  Unfortunately, I made the terrible decision of glancing at other student’s exams.  As a result of this, I received a letter in the mail stating that I was in violation of the honor code-for cheating.

            Due to my wrongdoing, there was no doubt in my mind that they only honorable thing left for me to do was to tell the truth, regardless of the severity of punishment.  I owed it to those who independently took that exam.  As a dedicated student, I had never been as disappointed and angry with myself, but for those indirectly involved.  I now had to worry about being granted permission to finish my last exam here at Elon.  One’s priorities definitely change as a result of a dumb and thoughtless mistake.   The most bothersome thing about this situation was the fact that I let temptation get the best of me.  Looking back, I would have preferred to get an F on that exam-as long as I had earned it.

            An honor code is imperative for a college to enforce.  This set of rules is what prevents situations, like the one I caused, from occurring.  It also allows students to take pride in the work and goals achieved here at this fine institution.

             My advice to incoming freshmen is to think before choosing the easy way out.  There is nothing more nerve-wracking than knowing that your future is no longer in your own hands, but at the mercy of the disciplinary board.  Each one of us controls our own destiny-don’t ever give up that privilege.  If ever faced with the temptation of cheating, just remember that you will always have to wonder, “did I earn that degree”? Is it worth the wondering?

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#2  The following letter was written by a student who was found “responsible” for an academic honor code violation during the 2000-01 school year.  The letter appears exactly as the student wrote it; no corrections have been made.


            When I came to Elon as a freshman I took one look at the Academic Honor Code and thought to myself “duh.”  Why would I do any of these violations deliberately?  I spent three years as a student at Elon without ever breaking either the Academic or the Social honor codes.

            However, during the first semester of my senior year I got sloppy and didn’t think hard enough about some of my actions.  In one of my courses I had a paper assignment.  The topic I chose involved getting students and faculty to fill out survey forms.  Although I did give out the survey forms, I failed to keep the completed forms showing that I had actually done the survey.  In my anxiousness to finish the project I wished to get it over with and out of my life.  Since the semester was drawing to an end I did my semester ritual of throwing out the paperwork for my classes.

            After I turned in the paper, the professor did not give me a grade.  He asked me to turn in documentation, such as the completed survey forms, to prove that I had done the survey.  I gave him what I could and headed home for the Christmas break.

            During the first week of my break I received a letter from an Elon dean stating that I was accused by this professor of an Academic Honor Code violation.  The professor accused me of lying, saying that I had never done the survey.  This letter resulted in tensions at my house for what was supposed to be a nice (possibly the last) holiday season that I would spend with my family before taking a job after college.  I spent the entire three weeks of Christmas break worrying about what would happen when I returned to school.  Would I pass the class?  Would I graduate on time?  Would I even be allowed to attend Elon anymore?  Since I had no way to prove that I had carried out the survey, I felt that I had no choice but to accept responsibility for the violation. 

When I got back to school I found out the answers to several of these questions.  Since it was a first offense I wasn’t going to be kicked out of Elon.  However, since I could not pass the class, I would not be able to graduate on time.  I had always planned on graduating on time since I was a freshman.

Most of my friends came in with me in my freshman class and we were all planning to graduate on the same day.  So as a result of my carelessness I will be forced to watch my friends (as well as my girlfriend since my freshman year) walking across the stage under the oaks while I sit in the audience and wait for an entire year to be able to do the same.  My parents and other family members who were going to come to graduation are very unhappy and disappointed at what has happened.

In retrospect I hated the fact that I had to admit to breaking the honor code but I had no way to prove that I had done the survey.  It was my carelessness that will affect the rest of my time at college.  For the remainder of my time at Elon I will be under scrutiny for every piece of work I submit.  If I do another careless thing resulting in an honor violation, I will have spent three and a half years at this school only to be asked to leave without a diploma.

From my experience I think it is very important that freshmen take the Honor Code very seriously, and understand what types of behavior will land them in trouble at Elon.  This can help them avoid the kind of problem that I have gotten into.

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#3  The following letter was written by a student who was found “responsible” for an academic honor code violation during the 2000-01 school year.  The letter appears exactly as the student wrote it; no corrections have been made.


To Whom It May Concern:

            I have had two other experiences with the Elon Honor code.  My First experience came when Elon sent me to their alcohol class for getting caught drinking under age in a dorm.  As part of the class requirements, our instructor asked us to dissect the Elon honor code, sentence by sentence, and tell her what we though each sentence meant.  Well that was mistake on the instructor’s part because the instructor didn’t realize that many of us in the class were friends, and were caught drinking together.  So we got into groups like the instructor asked and did the assignment, but we made a mockery of the assignment.  We never read and understood what the Elon Honor code was all about.  We just went through the motions so we could get credit for the class and have Elon’s administration of our back.  We just told the instructor what we knew she’d want to hear.

Unfortunately, I did not take the project seriously because it may have prevented my future decision in violating the honor code.  My second experience with the Elon honor Code was when members of my class were caught cheating oh the final.  Or grades were with held until everyone gave a written statement on what they saw or heard during that test.  But, I don’t blame those kids for cheating; see the professor didn’t show up for the final.  There was no supervision in the class, I didn’t cheat because one test grade is not going to make a difference on weather or not I’m successful in life.  But at that time the kids thought the benefits of cheating out weighed the ramifications of getting caught.  It was worth the risk to them, but if you ask them now, they would tell you it wasn’t.

My violation of the honor code came this past fall.  I was charged with facilitating academic dishonesty and cheating.  My teacher felt in her opinion that another student and I did an assignment together.  During my meeting with the Dean for Academic Affairs, I was told of my options:  go to a hearing board (made up of Elon students, teachers, staff, administrators) and have my case heard (like a court case), or I could admit to the accusations, take an automatic “F” and deal with the Deans punishment.  I had so much anger and hatred built up inside me because I felt I was getting the short end of the stick.  SO I decided to talk to my advisor about the situation and never in my mind did I think my advisor would help defend my case.  But, my advisor did and for the first time in five years I felt I had someone I could trust.  My advisor made me realize that being mad was not the correct way to deal with the situation, so I calmed down and decided to live with what my punishment would be.  I learned to be accountable for my actions.

The value of the honor code is to keep the playing field even for all people in the class.  Some people will do anything to pass a class or receive a good grade, even if it involves cheating.  Is it fair to those who don’t cheat?  That is a decision that you make for your-self.  Those come from your own morals, values, and beliefs, not mine.  To me, if a person cheats and gets an “A”, great their happy, but the didn’t learn the information.  The people who don’t cheat enhance their knowledge and our better off in the long run.

My advice to incoming freshmen is not to cheat.  There are plenty of people at Elon who are willing to help you with assignments that you don’t have to cheat.  Basically, it is no worth it, go get help from teachers or tutors and due your work.  Also, don’t let your friends pressure you into letting them copy your work.  It is just not worth getting caught and going through what I had to go through. 

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#4  The following letter was written by a student who was found “responsible” for an academic honor code violation during the 2000-01 school year.  The letter appears exactly as the student wrote it; no corrections have been made.


Concerning all Freshman,


                        You are excited…all moved into your dorm, meeting new people, experiencing living on your own, and best of all…no rules!  But, think again!  This year I have had the unfortunate experience of coming in contact with the Elon Honor Code.  You may be thinking, “Oh yeah, cheating is bad.”  Unfortunately the Honor Code is not only referring the cheating.  It also deals with any lying, plagiarism, facilitating any kind of academic dishonesty, stealing, and vandalizing.  Here at Elon, they take this Honor Code very seriously, and why shouldn’t they?  You are not going to get anywhere in life by copying off of someone else and lying about it.  The point of coming to college is to learn and to challenge yourself.  I feel that it is so much more important to learn form a bad grade, then to have to use dishonesty to pass a class. 

            When I first got here, I remember reading a letter just like this one and promising myself that I would never make a bad academic decision.  Unfortunately for me, it came too soon.  I was charged with cheating and facilitating academic dishonesty on a project in one of my classes.  It was very hard for me to face and deciding to plead responsible felt like the most responsible thing to do.  Making a mistake and taking responsibility for it is by far the most adult thing to do.  You  made the mistake; you need to face the consequences.  I realized that after I got caught I wanted to be as adult about the situation as possible.  I don’t know, however, that I will never make a mistake like this again. 

            When a call came form the Provost’s office that I needed to meet with her, at first I was confused.  “What could this be about?”  was mainly what I was thinking.  I was a little worried upon entrance into her office, but I was curious as well.  Once she discussed the issue at hand, I calmly said OK, and received my consequences.  I was a little shaken up when I left, but fortunately for me, I have very supportive friends who helped me through it.  I am also lucky enough to have supportive parents, who were upset at first, but they also helped me to get through it.  Everyone knew that I had made a mistake and how truly sorry I was for what I had done, as well as learning form it, and they knew that I needed their support and they have it to me.  What I really learned from this is that you will never get anywhere in life by cheating.  In order to learn and challenge yourself, you need to do the work!  Having a good education is one of the most valuable things in life, and I am receiving an excellent one here at Elon and I would never want to do anything again to mess that up.

            Basically all I have to say to you is to enjoy yourself!  You are here for a very important reason and that is to get an education, but make sure to have fun as well.  Sometimes you may get carried away because there are no parents around, but don’t forget that making adult decisions is a very important part of college and the rest of your life.  If you ever need help with anything, ask.  Don’t take things into your own hands if you are questioning anything, I know for sure that your professor would much rather help you then have to deal with an academic honor code violation.  An Academic Honor Code is very important to have at college because not only do we need discipline, but we need to know that we won’t get anywhere n life by cheating. 

            I hope that I have helped you to better understand the Elon Academic Honor Code, why it is important, and why you should never violate it.  Elon has a wonderful bunch on professors, deans, counselors, etc who are always available to help when you need it!  So don’t hesitate!


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#5  The following letter was written by a student who was found “responsible” for an academic honor code violation during the 2000-01 school year.  The letter appears exactly as the student wrote it; no corrections have been made.


Dear Freshmen,


            Many of us go through life not knowing what we want to be when we grow up or what college we want to attend, when the time comes.  Once we figure this out it is hard to imagine that with one assignment your dreams could all end.  This is what I was thinking about after that fateful meeting when I was charged with violating the honor code.  I was charged and took responsibility for cheating and facilitating academic dishonesty.  I had never had any prior experience with the honor code and though just like you are probably thinking  now, that this letter will be the only time issues like this will cross your mind.  I was wrong and I hope you do not make the same mistake.

            As I was doing the assignment I felt that it would be ok if I work with someone, that two minds work better than one; but when a teacher tells you not to work together you should follow those instructions.  When working on a paper or project, be sure that you do not even glance at someone else’s work, that is what I did and found an idea that was better than mine.  These kinds of things could lead you to copy someone else’s paper even if you had first had the intentions of doing your own work.

            When I went for the initial meeting, when I found out that they had found out, that I had cheated, it was so upsetting.  As they told me why I was there and what my options were, all I could think about was, what if I get kicked out of school; what if I can’t finish school; what will I do with the rest of my life?  I saw my future flash before my eyes, and wondered, was this really happening?  I was given two options, take responsibility or not take responsibility.  If I took responsibility, that would be admitting I had done wrong and I would possibly fail my class, and it would be permanently on my record.  If I didn’t take responsibility, I would go before a board and they would decide my fate.  I decided that since it was obvious that I worked with someone else, that I would take responsibility for my actions.  This was a hard decision to make because I wanted to go before the board and them tell me that I was not guilty, so there wouldn’t be a chance of failing the class, but I knew that our papers looked very similar and I knew that the outcome would not change, it would just drag the proceedings on.

            The honor code is a very important thing.  It is there to insure honesty and integrity on this and other campuses.  If not for the honor code and it’s violation consequences, we could not insure that everyone was doing their own work, that everyone was learning all they could in college. 

            My advice to you is this, don’t cheat.  Don’t compare papers, before turning them in, because it could lead you to better ideas, which could be coping from someone else’s.  Don’t work with a partner unless the teacher specifies that it is ok.  Do you own work.

            Don’t do what I did.  Don’t work with others and think this could never happen to you, because it can, and it will, if you cheat.  Believe me you do not want to see that future, the plans that you have, and your life, flash before your eyes.  You do not want to have to worry about what to tell your parents and how they will react.  Most of all you do not want to have the feeling, whether caught or not, that you didn’t do it yourself, that you didn’t earn that grade by yourself.  Do you own work, and you will stay out of trouble, and know that you accomplished your grade by hard work, not by the hard work of others. 


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#6  The following letter was written by a student who was found “responsible” for an academic honor code violation during the 2000-01 school year.  The letter appears exactly as the student wrote it; no corrections have been made.



            I am writing this letter to you to tell you a little bit about my experience with violating the Elon College honor Code.  I was caught for vandalism.  This was brought to my attention by one of the deans, who had been advised by one of my college professors that I had torn some pages out of a literary magazine.  At first I had no idea why I was called to the deans office.  But when she told me what I had been charged with, I knew right then and there that I was in trouble.  At that point I felt there was no reason to lie, so I told the truth.  I admitted to the fact that I was responsible for vandalizing a magazine at the Belk Library.  I had torn three pages out of the magazine so that I could do a summary on it.

            When the dean first told me this I was angry at her that she would even say such a thing.  Then after hearing about the claim that was brought to her attention and that there was a chance that I could fail the course, I was no longer mad but nervous.  I was afraid that I could have now ruined my GPA and the chance of failing this class did not sit well with me.  I think now looking back that I was more embarrassed than anything else.  I did something stupid and this stupid little thing was now a big thing.  In the end things were not that bad.  I was reprimanded for what I did, but things could have been a lot worse. 

            I will be honest with you, after my experience I do not have regret or remorse.  I screwed up and I claimed responsibility for my actions.  I have always accepted responsibilities for my actions and excepted the consequences.  However, I do realize that I am not 16 anymore or even 18.  I am almost 22 years old and my actions are the actions of an adult.  I realize not that when an adult violates a rule or a law they will face the consequences of an adult.  Oh, I almost forgot.  The whole point of this letter was to address you about the Elon Honor Code.  I am not going to come up with some crafty little way of telling you that as an Elon College student you must follow the honor code.  After reading this letter you should realize that if you violate it, you will suffer the consequences, like I did.

            There is one final though that I wish to address to you before I end this letter.  On your first day here at Elon pick up the handbook and read about the Elon Honor Code.  Read it, remember it and realize that there are consequences to actions that violate Elon College policy.  This is no longer high school and sweet-talking your way out of a situation like mine is not going to work.  The faculty here at Elon follows this Honor Code very seriously and they should and so should you.  Remember you are now an adult.  You expect to be treated like one by the school, your parents or who ever else you come in contact with.  So it is your responsibility to act like one. 


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#7  The following letter was written by a student who was found “responsible” for an academic honor code violation during the 2000-01 school year.  The letter appears exactly as the student wrote it; no corrections have been made.


            I’m a senior who is very lucky to still be at Elon.  I violated the Elon College honor code by picking up another students test while the teacher was outside of the classroom.  There is nothing I can do now to take back what I did that afternoon.  I have a 3.0 grade average at Elon and I’m a pretty good student.  I would do anything to take that day back and do the right thing. 

            The right thing would have been to tell my professor everything that was going on in my life.  The test was two days after parents weekend and I was stressed to the max.  I don’t know why, but all my professors decided to give test at the beginning of the week after parents weekend.  I had no time to study over the weekend entertaining my parents all weekend.  Monday came and I found myself overwhelmed with homework and cramming for three test in the next two days.  I was up all night Sunday and Monday night trying to retain all the information that could be thrown at me on the three test.  I tried my hardest to look over as much material as possible in twenty four hours but I still felt like I hadn’t learned enough to pass my test in Economics class.  I was pretty confident that I could pass the two other test but I knew that I wasn’t ready for my Econ test. 

            So I took the easy way out, which ended up being the hard way out.  I got caught red handed violating the Elon College honor code.  I panicked and made I crucial mistake in my college years.  What I should have done was say down with my professor and told her my situation.  Still to this day I don’t know why I didn’t do that.  It’s almost like a bad dream but I know it’s not while I’m writing this paper.  This is a valuable lesson I learned in life.  I think about what I did all the time.  I let myself down, my professor down, and most important I let my parents down.  Telling my parents what I did was one of the hardest thing I have ever had to do.  I’m not I cheater or a lire, I just made a crucial mistake that I can’t take back.  In the long run, I honestly have learned a lot from this experience. 


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#8  The following letter was written by a student who was found “responsible” for an academic honor code violation during the 2000-01 school year.  The letter appears exactly as the student wrote it; no corrections have been made.


Dear freshmen class of 2001,

            I am writing this letter to you in reference to the Honor Code that Elon College abides by.  This letter should educate you in  my experience with the Honor Code and also give you some insight on what the Honor Code is all about.  I will also be sharing with you some particular issues, such as, what I was charged with, how I felt in making the decision to admit I violated the honor code, and how I felt in telling family and friends.  Before my incident with the honor code, my experience was basically non-existent, except as a freshman I did receive a letter similar to this one in my Elon 101 class from a student that had violated these laws. 

            In the spring of 2000, I was charged with cheating on a final exam.  I was not aware of this charge until the third week of summer when I received a letter in the mail stating the charges against me.  The charge was as followed, “Mr. _________, turned in a cheat sheet had information from an earlier exam and it was hand written.  The cheat sheet he turned in with the exam was a photocopy, not in his hand writing, and not the one he used on the exam.”  When I read the charge against me I was honestly shocked.  The reason for feeling that way was because I was innocent of the charge against on me.  So I know the question that you are asking yourself know must be, “Why are you writing a letter to us (freshman) if you didn’t cheat?”  The answer is because there was no way to prove my innocence. 

            When you are charged with violating the honor code you are left with only two chooses, 1.  Plead guilty and take the penalty through Dr. Mary Wise.  2.  Fight your case and take it to the honor board, which is basically a judicial hearing where you get to argue your innocence.  The reason I decided to take my first option is not because I am guilty; it was because I though I had no case.  Basically, is was my word against the professor’s, and I am smart enough to know that they would have more compassion towards the professor then they student.  Another reason for my decisions in taking this route is because I was basically assured the basic penalty.  If you decide to go to the honor board, the penalties can range from what I received, to temporary suspension, or even expulsion.  In knowing that I choose to bleed guilty.

            The feeling that I felt throughout this whole time period was a lot of stress.  In telling my family I was scared as to how they would respond.  I expressed to them my options and they backed me 100% in my decision.  My feeling on the honor code is not one of hatred, because I think that it is very important that there is some sort of honest that must be up held in every academic exercise we do.  You as a freshmen must understand that when you step out of your dorm and into the classroom you as students of Elon College are automatically on the honor code, whether you signed a piece of paper or not.  I will end this letter with some advice to all of you.  Do your work to the best of your ability; give it 100% and that is all anybody can ask of you.  Do not try to find loopholes in the system, just do what you know is right, and you will be fine.


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#9  The following letter was written by a student who was found “responsible” for an academic honor code violation during the 2000-01 school year.  The letter appears exactly as the student wrote it; no corrections have been made.


Dear freshmen,

            It was during the fall semester of my junior year that I realized exactly how important the Elon Honor Code was.  Up until that point I had just assumed that the Elon Honor Code was a bunch of rules written and posted in each classroom around campus.  It had never affected me before.  However, after I was charged with plagiarism, I knew exactly what it stood for.  Now, after much humiliation and distress, I have a deeper understanding of what the Honor code entails and represents. 

            After admitting to my violation, I felt ashamed and embarrassed about my actions.  How was I going to tell my parents?  How could I look myself in the face and think that I deserved to stay at an institution that is based on honor and purity, and stresses academic achievement?  I felt that I had disappointed my professor, my parents, and myself.  It was the most horrible experience of my life. 

            While proceeding through the deliberation, I was terrified.  I didn’t know that was going to become of my actions.  My first and foremost concern was my academic standing here at Elon.  I had worked so hard for the past two years and I didn’t want to through it all away.  Then I started to think about my parents.  How would they react to my inappropriate behavior?  I had never wanted to disappoint them, although I had succeeded in doing so.  I value their thoughts and perceptions of me so dearly that letting them down had hurt me more that I had hurt myself.  I knew that what I had done was unacceptable and all I could do was wait for an answer that would ultimately change my life.  Whatever the outcome of my actions would be, I knew I was leaving this experience with a greater realization of what my education means to me.

            I believe that having an academic honor code protects the rights of everyone, including yourself from others.  Stealing someone else’s work is a crime, and will result in punishment.  Learning about the value of my own work is what has helped me become a better student here at Elon.  I know that I have the intelligence to write my own papers word for word, otherwise I wouldn’t have made it this far.  And if my best isn’t good enough than I need to try harder or ask for help.

            My advice to you, as an incoming freshmen, is to have enough faith in yourself to do your own work.  There is nothing more rewarding than being rewarded for something you’ve created.  The pressures to succeed will be high, but you wouldn’t have made it here if someone thought that you couldn’t do it.  I wouldn’t wish upon anyone the humiliation and anxiety that I went through pending the outcome of my violation.  However, with this piece of information I hope that your choices will reflect positively in you up-and-coming careers at Elon.   



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#10  The following letter was written by a student who was found “responsible” for an academic honor code violation during the 2000-01 school year.  The letter appears exactly as the student wrote it; no corrections have been made.


            It was 4:00pm on Thursday afternoon, a week before finals, and I had gotten a phone call from the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs saying that I have to set up an appointment to see Mary Wise.  I had an idea that this was about the honor code, just from who had called me.  My heart skipped a beat.  This is a very serious offense at Elon College.  So, many thoughts were going through my head, and the biggest one was what are my parents going to say when they hear this.  Am I going to get kicked out of school?  Am I going to lose my scholarship?  What is my coach going to say?  All of this for a couple answers on a test.

            I honestly saw my college life flash before my eyes.  Cheating is taken very seriously in every college, and you here stories all the time about kids getting kicked out of school due to cheating.  Unfortunately, you always hoped and wished that you would never be in that situation.  However, when I received my test I honestly blanked out.  Forgot everything I studied the night before, and I looked at the person’s paper next to me.  This is a sorry excuse for cheating, but that is the truth.  I must say that the couple of answers I had gotten were not worth the consequences that I had received from this very serious offense. 

            A letter was sent home to my parents explaining the situation that I was in.  It also included everything I was getting as punishment for this Honor Code Offense.  The worst part was trying to explain to my parents what I had done, and what was going through my head when I was doing it.  They were extremely disappointed in me.  I had never done anything more disappointing to them in my life.  Another consequence I had to suffer from was I received and “F” on the test.  This “F” brought down my grade in the class tremendously, and all I had to take to bring that grade up was my final.  This was a lot of pressure that I did not need.

            Mrs. Wise had called me down to her office about the whole situation.  It is her job to get to the bottom of things and find out who was the one committing the crime.  After she had asked me a few questions and I could not handle it anymore and I had to tell confess what exactly had happened.

            I value having an academic honor code at my college.  There was one thing good that came out of all this, and that was I feel that I had built myself some character and dignity.  I will never lower myself to that level again to be dishonest.


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#11  The following letter was written by a student who was found “responsible” for an academic honor code violation during the 2000-01 school year.  The letter appears exactly as the student wrote it; no corrections have been made.


When I first came to Elon College, the Honor Code was only briefly explained to me in my Elon 101 class.  The college did not stress the severity of the Honor Code nor did they explain the in depth consequences of violating the code.  Each time that I have written a paper, taken a test or a final exam I understood that I was to abide by the Honor Code, however the fall semester of my junior year I had my first true experience with the Elon College Honor Code.  The fall of 2001 I was charged with cheating and facilitating academic dishonesty.  When the Professor initially accused me of violating the Honor Code I was in disbelief.  I thought long and hard about the assignment given and how I completed the assignment and could not come up with a way in which I had violated the Honor Code.  Soon after I was accused of cheating and facilitating academic dishonesty I met with Dr. Mary Wise to discuss the violation and consequences in greater detail.  After the meeting with Dr. Wise, I felt as if I needed to rectify the situation immediately because I did not want the issue to constantly be on my mind.  My thoughts were in a state of disarray, so I went home and shared my emotions with a friend.  The next terrible step in this process was to break the news to my parents; so many questions went through my head.  How will I explain myself?  What will they say?  Are they going to be disappointed in me?  Are they going to think of me as a “cheater?”

            The next part of the process was to appear before the judicial board and explain my case to one staff member, one faculty member, two students, my professor, and Dr. Wise.  I feel that this was the most difficult part of this process because I had to attempt to justify my actions.  In a sense, I felt degraded by being charged with cheating and facilitating academic dishonesty because this does not at all reflect the person that I am. 

            I believe the Elon College Honor Code to be very valuable and it should be respected by all students.  However, if the college puts such a strong emphasis on adhering to the code it needs to be explained more thoroughly to all students.  Most students do not know much about the Honor Code until it is too late and they have already violated the system.

            The most important piece of advice that I have for incoming freshmen is carefully read the assignments given by the professors.  Freshmen also need to make sure they completely understand the professors’ expectations and guidelines for each assignment given.  I do not wish this experience on anyone and hope that each incoming freshman can be honest with themselves and avoid situations such as violating the Elon College Academic Honor Code.


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#12  The following letter was written by a student who was found “responsible” for an academic honor code violation during the 2000-01 school year.  The letter appears exactly as the student wrote it; no corrections have been made.


To All Incoming Freshmen:       

            While I am required to write this letter to you all because of sanctions placed on me by the honor code committee I do not consider this to be a burden.  The burden is my conscience that eats at me for committing an infraction of the Elon College Honor Code.  I am a sophomore at Elon majoring in English.  While writing comes natural and easy for me on one particular day I was very sick and had an assignment due for class.  I had waited too long to start the project to ask for an extension.  So instead of writing the paper I looked on EBSCO Host and pulled up a paper that was related to my paper topic.  I then cut and paste excerpts from the paper onto my word document.  I did not once cite the article that I took the information from instead I used the article’s author’s research and in text citations as my own.  Needless to say my professor had caught on.  She notified me of her findings showed me my paper and the paper that I had took information from and then reported me to the Dean.

            I cannot tell you how nervous I was when I had the meeting to find what punishment I would be subject to because of my actions.  I was very frightened, I did not want my friends, professors, advisors and all who know I can write my own papers well to think that instead I was a cheater.  This was the first time I had ever done something like this and I honestly regret it.  Because of my actions my parents were notified and I received a failing grade in the class.  Just to think that had I not plagiarized I would have possibly failed one assignment let alone a whole class.  My poor decision-making has caused me to lose four credits and waste money but, also reflects poorly on my transcript and has caused my mother to lose trust in me.

            I realize that you all might be thinking about what a stupid decision I made or that you will never get caught.  I can tell you that when a letter like this one you are reading was distributed to me my freshman year I thought the very same thing, and now I am sitting on the other side of the fence.  I strongly urge all of you to not take this so lightly and think twice when writing a paper in crunch-time situations.  I wish you all the best of luck in your studies and time at Elon. 


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#13  The following letter was written by a student who was found “responsible” for an academic honor code violation during the 2000-01 school year.  The letter appears exactly as the student wrote it; no corrections have been made.


Dear Elon 101 student,

            The 2000-01 year is the first year that the Honor Code has been posted on the Internet as opposed to being printed out and passed out to freshmen.  I am in favor of this move to electronic access because of the immense amount of paper saved.  What I feel was not handled well, was the transfer of the importance of this Honor Code to freshmen.  In my Elon 101 class, the teacher never really focused much on the value of this honor code, and having never thought to break it, I didn’t really notice: until now.

            Every classroom has an extremely abbreviated version of the Honor Code on the wall somewhere for constant reminder of what not to do.  My teachers have made us sign tests and quizzes saying that we abided by the Honor Code.  That pretty much has been my only experience with the Honor Code.

            I was charged with plagiarism.  What an ugly word!  It causes a lump in some people’s throats to even say.  The assignment was a movie review for extra credit in which I had not finished watching, so I got a quote and picture from the Internet to add as “boosters” to the review.  I did not site the website, and I realize now that this is wrong.  The thing is I didn’t really feel guilty or bad at all because I did not realize what I was doing.  I was pressed for time and thought that it really didn’t matter that much.  I did not think I was breaking the Honor Code; in fact the thought never crossed my mind since this has never happened to me before.  I had intentions of writing the web address down “just in case” but completely forgot until I got a phone call to meet with the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs. 

            Confused, I went to her office, and was presented with my original assignment, the web site I had used, and a charge from my teacher.  I was pretty upset that this had gone far enough to bring a charge against me for a seemingly (in my opinion) pointless assignment.  In fact, I was mad at the whole thing, and at myself for being so clueless.  I appreciated the “wake up” call though because now I am ever more careful about citing every little punctuation I may find in another source.  I am grateful that this came from a simple extra credit assignment instead of something more important.

            I was presented with my options: guilty/not guilty.  In order to plead not guilty, I would have to go before a jury of sorts and defend myself.  I feel that since this whole thing was an innocent mistake on a simple assignment, that I would accept my fate and go for a guilty plea.  I e-mailed my mom with the situation when I got back to my room because I did not want her getting a letter without any explanation from me!  She was very sympathetic and supportive.  She told me that we couldn’t learn or grow without making mistakes in life.  I thank her for this calm advice and patience.

            Coming from a public school where there was no enforced honor code, I was very surprised to see the seriousness of this school and their honor code.  I feel that because of this honor code, students can feel more comfortable knowing that they are going to be respected for their work, because the esteem level rises when you know you can trust the work.  Also, if I were to conduct and present research, I would want to be cited properly.

            Advice:  Make sure you take the time to really know this Honor Code, and try to respect it for what it is.  The code was not put into place to haunt students, but instead to instill some value in the work that comes from the students here at Elon College.

“Experience is the name people give to their mistakes” – Anonymous

P.S. In keeping with the theme of citing sources this quote comes from



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#14  The following letter was written by a student who was found “responsible” for an academic honor code violation during the 2000-01 school year.  The letter appears exactly as the student wrote it; no corrections have been made.


Dear Incoming Freshman:


            I am writing this letter to you in hopes that through my experience with the Elon

Honor Code I can prevent any of you from making the same mistakes I made regarding in-text citations on a research paper and stress the importance of reading your student handbook, specifically, the Honor Code.

The Elon Honor Code’s function is not to create fear and heartache among its students, but to merely provide a system of self-policing and personal accountability for Elon’s students and faculty.  While I would like to believe that everyone at Elon has the integrity to always do the right thing.  I know that is not the case and hopefully someone who witnesses wrong doing can use the Honor Code as a means to bring to light violations in a confidential and effective way.

            As a freshman, I wasn’t able to attend many to the orientation sessions at the beginning of the year because of activities I was already committed to.  In addition, I didn’t take my Elon 101 professor’s advice to read the student handbook and Elon’s Honor Code.  My decision to not take the inititive and familiarize myself with the honor code eventually led to my being charged with violating the plagarism portion of the code.  Specifically, I took large portions of information from several websites and neglected to cite the author and page number at the end of the excerpts.  Even though I had included all of my sources in my bibliography at the end of the paper, if I had read the Elon Honor Code I would have known that a bibliography simply wasn’t enough.

            When I was charged with the plagerism violation I first felt very disappointed because of the amount of work I put into my first semester her at Elon culminating in an Honor Code violation.  I then was faced with the possibility that I would receive an Honor Code F for the course, meaning the F could not be replaced with another grade GPA wise even if I chose to retake the course.  This was very frightening since that would in effect put me out of school because of my Financial Aid GPA requirements.

            All of these feelings of anguish and stress could have been prevented if I had familiarized myself thoroughly with the Elon Honor Code.  This is why I urge you to do so and read all aspects of the student handbook and the Honor Code and ask questions about the portions you may have questions about- so that you may not find out the way I did... the hard way.


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#15  The following letter was written by a student who was found “responsible” for an academic honor code violation during the 2000-01 school year.  The letter appears exactly as the student wrote it; no corrections have been made.


            To truly understand and appreciate something like the honor code, you must first go through the judicial process and evaluate your experience afterwards.  Like anything else in life, we all learn best by our experiences.  This means making mistakes.  I made a mistake as a senior at Elon.  I was operating under the assumption that our teacher wanted us to do our homework together, which was true.  We were to type our answers and turn them in as individuals.  A fellow classmate and myself combined our efforts and did the homework, but instead of typing out two different versions of the assignment, we printed out two copies of the same answers and turned them in.  There was no intent to cheat on my part, I thought that the teacher would see that we had done the homework together and it would be all right.  I was wrong.  The classmate and I got copies of our homework back with a note saying to see the teacher.  When we did, we were informed that we had been turned in for cheating and facilitating academic dishonesty.

            I could not believe this.  I had never been accused of cheating in my whole life, and now I was about to graduate and this happens.  It was such a horrible and embarrassing feeling.  I did not think I could be accused of cheating for a homework assignment.  At first, I was angry.  I was blaming everyone but myself, but then I realized that if I had not been as lazy, then I would have put in the extra time and typed a different version of the assignment.

            Before I knew it the process had begun.  I knew that I had to call my parents and see what their advice was.  I was debating telling them, but I am glad I did because I felt much better, and they supported me 100 percent.  I had to go and see Dr. Wise and evaluate my options.  I had the choice of either going before the judicial board and having then hear my case, or have Dr. Wise simply give me the sanctions without a hearing.  I thought about it for a while, and finally chose the latter of the two.  I received my sanctions and the process was mostly over.  All in all, I think that I was treated fairly.  I broke the honor code, and I was punished accordingly.

            When I first came to Elon, I knew that there was an honor code, but I assumed that I would never be put in a situation where I would have to know and understand it completely, I was wrong.  Having an honor code is the same as having a set of laws.  If there were no laws, then the world would be chaos.  If there was no honor code, everyone would get “A’s” but never learn anything.  We must have these set of guidelines in order to keep students honest and for everything to be fair.

            In conclusion, I would like to offer two pieces of advice to all incoming freshmen.  Since these are the two things that would have really helped me to avoid this process.  The first is to ALWAYS read your syllabus for each class.  Had I done that, I would have seen that the sharing process for homework assignments stopped when you began writing the assignment out.  I would have known not to turn in the same thing.  The other main point of advice is to make sure you read the honor code when you first get the Elon.  This way, you can avoid trouble from the start and you can make a habit out of not breaking the rules.


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#16  The following letter was written by a student who was found “responsible” for an academic honor code violation during the 2000-01 school year.  The letter appears exactly as the student wrote it; no corrections have been made.


Dear Elon 101 Class,

Hello fellow Elon Students.  As a mandatory class, I had to take Elon 101 as a freshman.  During this class, we learned about the Elon College Honor Code.  My advisor talked for about an hour on all the procedures, and how important the code is to the school.  I didn’t know how important until I found myself involved with violating the honor code.

            I read the honor code, but I didn’t really remember it or take it to heart.  I wish I did.  I used my friend’s paper to write a paper for a class, and my professor turned me in.  I was charged with plagiarism.  I received a phone call from someone wanting an appointment with me, and I had no idea what it was about.  I went to the appointment, and when I found out, I was so ashamed and scared.  I never thought that this would happen to me. 

            The next day, I went to the class that I received the complaint from, and I was so embarrassed.  I could hardly look at my professor because I know he was angry with me and upset with me.  I decided to talk to my professor after class, and try to apologize for my ignorant actions.  But I knew that my professor would never trust me again.  As much as I wanted to take away what I did, and pretend like it never happened, I couldn’t.  I still do not know what grade I will receive in my class.  I could fail it, and that will hugely affect my GPA, and my parents will once again be upset with me for this situation.

            I had to call my parents and explain to them what happened.  I felt like I had broken their trust as well as my professor’s trust.  They were so angry, they told me I would have to transfer.  I was very upset, especially knowing that I had brought all of this upon my self just by using another person’s paper.  They were upset with me, and could not believe I could do such a thing.  They were even sent a letter from the dean, explaining what happened and telling them that I could possibly get an F in the course, or an F on my paper.  I also had to tell my friend about the paper I used.  She was very upset with me, because she did not know that I had used her paper, word for word almost, and turned it in like I had written it myself.

            I decided to plead responsible for plagiarism, because I knew what I did, and I knew it was wrong.  It is very important that this school had the Elon College Academic Honor Code.  It is unfair to use someone else’s thoughts in a paper you write.  It is also unfair to the professors when this situation happens, for they are hurt too.  The honor code requires all students to pledge to uphold the code, and not cheat, lie, steal, or assist other people in these violations.  It is important for self responsibility, for taking actions into your own hands, and not having the dependency on parents or other people.

            So, please read the Honor Code, and know what the rules are before you get faced with a horrible situation like I did.  I will never forget what happened, and sadly enough, I am sure my professor will never forget either.  I made a fool out of myself to my friends, my professors, Elon College Academic Advisors, and my parents.  If you are ever faced with the temptation to plagiarize, please do not.  The consequences are far worse than taking the time to write a well-written paper you self.  I took the temptation, because I felt like I could not write the paper.  If you ever have a problem writing a paper, talk to your professor, or go to the writing center in the library.  I just hope that you will never make the mistake that I did by violating the Elon College Academic Honor Code.

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