Voices of Experience

View letters from students from the 1999-2000 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 1999-00 school year.  The letter appears exactly as the student wrote it; no corrections have been made.


Life is crazy.

It can throw you a curve ball every now and then, you can either take it and run with it, or run like Hell away from it, leaving it and all your troubles behind. But sooner or later, they creep back up on you and you have to deal with them.

For me, that’s when the trouble started.

There was death in the cards for me this year, unfortunately, too much of it. I became down, depressed almost, and I neglected my schoolwork. I was falling behind in classes, not doing the make-up work that my teachers were assigning.

I took the easy way out.

An extremely large project was due for me in a class, it was pretty much identical for each student, so I figured “Hmm…why not “borrow” someone else’s work and claim it for my own?”

WRONG! Not a smart thing to do. The Honor Code is a very important thing at Elon, and should be held with the utmost respect and reverence.  I broke it. I got caught. It was a stupid thing to do, even in desperation, because instead of taking a late grade on the project, I got a null.

When I came into Mary Wise’s office, I was wondering what on Earth it could be about. Then I figured out, that’s pretty much a bad place to be sent to. Do you remember being sent to the Principal’s office when you were younger? This was by far worse. I felt horrible.

I couldn’t believe that I had made such a bad decision. It was one with no excusable reasoning, nothing that I could have done could have put me into “the right” for that action.

I was scared of failing out of school, being kicked out of school, scared of what my parents, friends, etc. would say when I returned home, empty handed with my tail between my legs.

But I didn’t. The decision was fair, I believe that it was one which I would have chosen had I been in the position to have made it. I respect Ms. Wise and my Professor for having had made it so wisely and fairly.

Failing is failing, you cannot change that, and it is something that I am not pleased with, but I set myself up to fall. That’s what cheating is, thinking that you are taking the easy way out, but just making it harder for yourself in the long run.

Looking off someone’s exam, copying their homework, using their work as your own, it’s plagiarism in every right and not a smart thing to do. I could feel it inside that it also was not the right thing to do.

But I did it anyways.  Why, I don’t know. I felt like a bad person. I was tempted, I took the chance, and I got caught.  It was completely my fault, and I accept that.

They enabled the Honor Code here at Elon to make us better people, to make sure that we were who we said we were, honest, good kids who came here for an education. If we break that we break the integrity of our standing here at Elon. This is an incredible school, and to dishonor its name by cheating, it’s one of the worst feelings I have ever had.

I regret ever having had done it.

I regret ever having had thought about doing it.

It’s not something that I’m proud of.

It’s not something that anyone should be proud of.

Don’t run from your problems.  They’ll only catch up to you in the end, and make you work even harder for yourself.



#2  The following letter was written by a student who was found “responsible” for an academic honor code violation during the 1999-00 school year.  The letter appears exactly as the student wrote it; no corrections have been made.

Dear Elon 101 class,

The assignment was to attend two social events listed on the Elon Calendar with another member of the class, and write a one-page typed report within 24 hours.  The paper was to include how the activity applied to what we were doing in class.

For my first event another student and I decided to attend a basketball game and write a report on that.  We had decided to meet in the hall on the steps just before you walk in the gym.  All was fine until I went to the game and the person I was supposed to meet with was not there.  I was running a little late, therefore, I assumed that he went in without me to see the game.  So I decided to go in and look for him, but couldn’t find him anywhere.  I just sat down assuming we would see each other at least by halftime.  Meanwhile, halftime came and went and I still did not see him.  There were so many people at the game I just figured we missed each other, besides he never called and told me he wasn’t coming.  After the game I went home and wrote my paper, not really thinking wrote that I went with this guy to the game, when really I didn’t.  I mean what’s really the big deal; I had my paper done?  Truly, even if I had thought about it I probably still would have done the same because I am not the type of person that would tell on someone else when they do something wrong or not show up for an easy assignment like this.  Never the less this is still wrong.  If you know of someone doing wrong you better tell because no matter the hard work or the effort you put into it, that individual that doesn’t do his or her part could pull you down and you’ll suffer.

For the second event I was supposed to go with some girl to another basketball game, but the same thing happened again.  She didn’t show up.  I don’t know if it was me or what.  How would you feel?  The teacher did say if you had a problem to talk to her about it.  I didn’t think it would be that big of a deal if I went with someone, but rather I had the work done.  Anyway, the teacher found out that I did not go to these events with anyone.  At the end of class one day, she approached me and called me a liar, for stating in my paper that I went with these people to the events when I didn’t.  I realize that it was true I did write that in one of the papers, but I did not for the other.  No big deal. I was wrong.  But the problem came when the teacher told me to go to another event with someone and write a paper on another event and also a paper why I thought that going with someone should not be a big deal.  Here is where I truly went wrong.  I got upset because she was making me do extra work after I had already written two papers and the students that didn’t show up for the events did not have to do anything.  Why was I getting the punishment?  Is it not the person who does no work who that should get punished?  Anyway, now upset, I proceeded to walk off saying, “this is bullshit.”  I didn’t say it directly to the teacher, but she heard it.  While walking out of the building I calmed myself down and went back to apologize.  I went to her office to try to talk to her and apologize but, now she was upset and was not really trying to hear it.  She just told me she would let me make up one of the assignments.  This assignment was to just do something with a student and write a paper on how it related to class.  Therefore, this student and me decided to meet at the Coffee Shop the next day and have a bite to eat and socialize.  I knew pretty much what I was going to put into my paper so the night before we got together I began typing some of my paper to get ahead, but the next day we had twelve inches of snow and the Coffee Shop was closed.  After realizing we decided to go to McEwen cafeteria instead.  When I went back to finish my paper I forgot to change the location at which we met, therefore I turned in a false paper.  Needless to say my paper didn't match up with the other guy's and I was turned in for lying which is a major in the Academic Honor Code.  I felt bad, embarrassed, and ashamed.  Even though I know it was a mistake, it was done, not deliberately, but it was done.  I was worried what was going to happen to me, how much trouble I was going to get in.  I felt so stupid that I didn't even want to talk to my friends about it.

                The Academic Honor Code here is a good one because it keeps students together in the sense of rights, fairness, and responsibilities.  It helps to build high trust, honesty, and integrity.  The Academic Honor Code also makes everyone pull together to make sure Elon is a school where each person can experience solid academics and personal excellence.  My advice to you is to learn the Academic Honor Code so you don't get caught in something you don't mean to do.



#3  The following letter was written by a student who was found “responsible” for an academic honor code violation during the 1999-00 school year.  The letter appears exactly as the student wrote it; no corrections have been made.

Dear Freshman,

                I would like to take this time to explain to you a situation that nobody want to get himself or herself involved in.  It is an Elon College Honor Code violation.  The Elon Honor Code is not to be taken lightly.  Each charge, no matter how severe or mild, is a major offense.  I was charged with plagiarism of a Midterm assignment.  It is definitely something I am not happy with or proud of, but now it is something that will remain with me for the rest of my years at Elon.  This charge against me will never go away.

                When I was confronted with the violation I had to make a decision.  Do I admit to the charge or say that I am not guilty and try to take my case to a hearing board.  I chose to accept the charges and deal with my punishment.  This was a tough time for me, as it took my mind off almost every other aspect of my life.  I had never felt so sick to my stomach over something like this.  The feelings that I went through are feelings that I never want to go through again in my life.

                Before this time, I had only one experience with the Honor Code; it was in my Elon 101 class.  My professor handed out a series of letters, very similar to the one that you are reading now.  He reviewed the Honor Code and gave us a short quiz.  The problem with this was that most kids in the class thought that they would never have to deal with this predicament.  The sad thing is that it can and does happen to anybody, especially the ones who never expect it, like me.  I have never been in any sort of trouble in school before.  I got into this trouble because of an oversight on my part.  One little mistake is all it takes to tarnish a perfect reputation.

                The value of having an honor code at Elon College is to keep the students in check.  The code keeps students honest and enforces work integrity.  Without it the college would have more problems than it has already.

                If I had any advice for you, the student, I would have to say, "Don’t think something like this will never happen to you."  The irony of this whole ordeal is that it could happen to you and when it does, it will hit you like a ton of bricks.  I slipped up for about five minutes.  In those five minutes I could have written a works-cited page, but I forgot.  And it made me look and feel like a bad guy.  Don’t let it happen to you.


                                                                                                Yours Truly,


                                                                                                Elon Student



#4  The following letter was written by a student who was found “responsible” for an academic honor code violation during the 1999-00 school year.  The letter appears exactly as the student wrote it; no corrections have been made.


                I am writing you this letter because I would like to discuss my feelings and experiences that I went through in violating and being charged with a violation of the Elon College Honor Code.  This is a very serious crime that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

                The crime that I violate was the plagiarism crime.  I used other authors' words in the research paper that was assigned by my professor.  I never violated any other school honor code before I violated this one, and I didn’t realized I violated this one until my professor sat me down and asked me if I really wrote the paper or not.  There are going to be times in your college career when you will be swamped with homework and you don’t know how you’re going to handle it.  After my teacher approached me and I told her that I did write that paper, thoughts of being kicked out of Elon were running through my head.  I started to get really frightened that I was going to get expelled.  I felt like I let myself down because I have never done anything that serious in my life.  I couldn’t live with the fact that I lied to my professor and couldn’t live with the fact that I cheated and tried to get away with it.  I felt the only way to deal with the situation was to turn myself in.  There was a possibility of me getting away with it, but I don’t think that anybody can live with himself or herself.  I violated that Elon College Honor Code and it was time for me to talk to the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.  I sat down with her and told her what I did and how it came about.  I took responsibility for the plagiarism and I understood the actions of the violation.  I indicated that I didn’t want this case to be heard by the Honor Board and I asked for an official waiver.  This means that I would resolved this case through the administrative hearing, which is the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.  The sanctions for the first offense that I received were an academic censure, an academic project assigned by the administrator, and a recommended “F” in the course.

                After going through all of the emotional scares that I went through with the plagiarism violation I have realized that the Elon College Academic Honor Code is a much needed rule for students.   This honor code is a very important rule in this day and age because technology is so big and the internet is going so fast that any student can get taught in this violation.  It is very tempting just to print out or copy from a book, but in the long run it is not worth it.  Take it from me, IT IS NOT WORTH IT.  The advice that I have for you guys is if you have any problems with doing the work, the faculty in this institution are more than willing to help you out with the assignment.  The professors at Elon understand that you have many things going on in your life and if you sit down with them or your faculty advisor, anything can get accomplished.  I wish I had sat down with my professor before I copied other people’s works to take the easy way out.  Because it wasn’t the easy way out.  It was a let down to myself.  Just don’t do it, trust me.




#5  The following letter was written by a student who was found “responsible” for an academic honor code violation during the 1999-00 school year.  The letter appears exactly as the student wrote it; no corrections have been made.

Dear Freshmen:


                Do the words “Not Graduating” mean anything to you?  Maybe they don’t mean so much now, but wait until you are very close to graduation.  If graduating from college is very important to you, I hope you learn and understand the Elon Honor Code.  I first realized that there was an Honor Code before I even attended Elon College.  However, I really didn’t take it seriously and feel that I would have to worry about it at any point in my college career.  Since I had never gotten into trouble in high school I believed everything would be fine.  I knew that there was an Honor Code and that you would have to follow it.  The most important thing is to first realize that there is an Honor Code and totally understand what counts as an infraction.  Understanding the Honor Code fully will help you stay out of trouble.

                Unfortunately for me, I was charge with plagiarism.  At the time when I was writing my final paper of my college career I honestly felt that I had a great paper.  I never intended to plagiarize at any time through this paper.  However, it was my fault on not understanding documentation citation to the fullest.  It was also my fault not to take my paper to a professional to read it.  If I would have taken my paper to another source, I believe everything would have been all right.  However, everything blew up in my face and I was accused of plagiarism.

                I don’t know if any of you freshman realize how hard it was to admit that I had done this.  It was very hard for me because I honestly felt that I did nothing wrong.  However, when it was explained to me where in the paper I had plagiarized, I understood what I had done wrong.  It was hard for me because I wanted everyone to believe that I honestly didn’t mean to do this and that I really worked hard on this paper.  Overall, I knew that I had made a mistake and took full responsibility for my actions.  It is not a very good feeling when you are in this situation possibly facing the reality that you will not graduate.  Even though I truly believed my paper was going to be good, it was in my best interest to first understand what I had done wrong and honestly admit that I plagiarized.  You do not ever want to feel like I did and you need to understand this Honor Code.  Even it you feel like you wrote a good paper, you need to make 100% sure that you did not violate any Honor Code.

                The biggest fear that I went through was the possibility of not graduating.  I’ve worked so hard throughout my college career that I was so scared of not graduating.  I had never become more stressed and anxious.  The feelings around graduation should be happy and excited and not fearful and depressed.  What feelings would you choose to have right before graduation?  How would your parents feel if you possibly had to call them before graduation and tell them they don’t need to come?  I honestly could not tell you how many thoughts and feelings were running through my mind.  All I could tell you is that there were too many.

                It’s very important that schools have Honor Codes so students do their own work.  It’s also very important because teachers want students to be honest and make good decisions.  Having an Honor Code at college is important; however, understanding this Honor Code is even more important.  Being a freshman, you may not worry about such things as violating an Honor Code, but let me tell you from experience, you need to worry.  If you have any questions or worries that you may be violating an Honor Code, you need to ask someone (teacher, library assistants, etc…).  There is a time in college to have fun, meet new people, and experience the joy of college.  However, you may not be able to experience all of these if you don’t understand the Elon Honor Code.

                Overall, I hope that you take this topic very seriously and try and understand that Honor Code as much as you can.  Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to ask questions on any matter.  From experience, it’s not worth it to take the matter lightly and not ask for help.  Graduating from college is very important to me, and I hope it’s important for all of you.




#6  The following letter was written by a student who was found “responsible” for an academic honor code violation during the 1999-00 school year.  The letter appears exactly as the student wrote it; no corrections have been made.


Dear Freshman,

                Sometimes in life we think that we are invincible to a lot of things.  Things such as the Honor Code, “yeah, yeah, I know” is the typical response.  I am not going to be dumb enough to get caught cheating.  But just before a blink of an eye, you have been involved in an Honor Code violation.

                I knew that cheating and plagiarism were wrong.  But I did not read the Honor Code thoroughly enough, simply, because I thought I knew everything.  Apparently I missed that if you lend a person your work, that is considered cheating.

                Well, I lent someone my paper against better judgement.  Days later I was notified that I had violated the honor code, and there were some charges placed against me.  I was initially charged with cheating, plagiarism and facilitating academic dishonesty.  Whether or not I had intended to let that person copy my stuff word for word or even use it to paraphrase my work, it was still a violation of the honor code.

                All I was thinking about was how could I have been so irresponsible and let something like this happen.  I knew that one of the consequences was that I could get an “F” in the class and then what was I going to tell my parents, an “F”, they are going to kill me.  They are going to be so mad at me.  All I could then do was realize that I had made a mistake and that I had to own up to it, because it was not going to change what happened.  I did something wrong and now I have to deal with the consequences, and that is what I was doing.

                I told some of my friends what had happened, some were mad and others understood.  My lesson did not only affect me but also those to whom I told the story.  I mean, if it could happen to me, it could happen to anyone.  The biggest thing is that Elon was doing something about it.  There were actions to back up the words in the honor code.  Well, before I told my parents of the possibility of getting an “F” I had to make sure that I was getting one.

                One thing that was brought to my attention is that the professor is the only one who can give the grade in the class.  But before then I was a little weary to go to class, because I was sure that my professor hated me for doing such a dumb thing.  I was really embarrassed and remorseful.  But then I talked to the professor after the incident and apologized for my actions and then the professor later told me that I would be able to take the exam and that I was not getting an “F.”  I think that was the happiest day of my life.  I thought that I had won a million dollars.  All I knew is that I was not getting an “F.”  I don’t think that I have ever been that happy to take an exam.

                One thing that I realized from this whole situation, is that it is RIGHT to say NO.  I thought that if I said no, then I would not be cool, and I didn’t want that to happen.  For the longest time I thought that “Just Say No” campaign was dumb and it was ridiculous.  But not until now, do I really appreciate it.  You don’t really appreciate the value of things such as the honor code until you encounter a situation dealing with it.  But you live and you learn and this time I was lucky.  Now I know what to do, and how to say no.  Being cool and letting someone have my work is not worth getting an “F” in a class that is permanent on your transcript.  Just remember that it is ok to say NO!



#7  The following letter was written by a student who was found “responsible” for an academic honor code violation during the 1999-00 school year.  The letter appears exactly as the student wrote it; no corrections have been made.


                Most students know that there is an honor code, but think that getting caught only happens to other people.  What I’m about to tell you is my experience with breaking the Elon College Honor Code.

                It was the end of the school year; I was burned out from all the work I had done that semester and exams were right around the corner.  We were assigned to write a paper, which was to be four to five pages in length.  Procrastinating, like I sometimes do, I put having fun before doing my assignment.  Running out of time, I turned to a fellow student in the same class and asked for help in completing my paper.  Instead of just using my classmate’s paper as a tool in writing my own paper, I changed one page and used the rest of the pages as my own.  Thinking that nothing would happen, I handed in the paper with no worries.  Days later I was charged with cheating for using someone else’s work as my own.  I wasn’t sure of whether or not I should admit to my mistake because I realized what would happen to me if I told the truth.  Devastated, ashamed and scared to death, I did the only thing I could do and said I was responsible.

                The hardest part was sitting at home waiting to hear the final decision.  Explaining to my friends what I had done and what I was being charged with was so embarrassing.  The look on their faces made me feel even worse because I knew they weren’t quite sure what to say.  They knew I was wrong, but at the same time they felt sorry for me too.  What brought tears to my eyes the most was that I going to have to call my mom and tell her that I wasn’t going to graduate because I was charged with cheating.  Hurting my mother would be the worst thing I could do.  I not only let my friends and family down, but I also let myself down because this wasn’t in my character.  God and family values have always been a big part in my life and I wasn’t raised to be a liar or cheat.

                The Elon College Honor Code has taught me so much in the past week.  If there were no honor code at schools, good grades would be easy to obtain.  Without academic honor codes there would be no learning in classrooms.  Homework and tests would be pointless because teachers would never be able to tell what students have learned to what they need to learn for the future.  The reason students go to college in the first place is to learn for themselves and to gain more knowledge than before.  Cheating, lying, and plagiarism only hurts and breaks down our character and the prestige of that institution.

                My advice to you as a fellow Elon student is to think before you do something stupid that will not only affect yourself, but your friends and especially your family.  If you are doing work for a class, make sure that your name is put on your own work.  I know that it seems easy to use someone else’s work and that most of you think the school or professor will never know.  Do not fool yourself because you will eventually get caught.  I’m not trying to use scare tactics or threats to get you not to cheat, I’m only warning you and to tell you that it happened to me and I was just a normal student that never thought that I would get in trouble.



#8  The following letter was written by a student who was found “responsible” for an academic honor code violation during the 1999-00 school year.  The letter appears exactly as the student wrote it; no corrections have been made.


Dear Freshman,

                When I first came to Elon I was put in a class called Elon 101.  The purpose of this class was to teach you about the college life and the Elon Honor Code.  The Elon Honor Code is a set of rules that students must go by or they will be punished appropriately.  The Elon 101 teachers went over the Honor Code during the first couple of days of class.

                In my incident, I was charged for plagiarism.  I was doing a paper for Economics and had to read a book.  At the time I was not sure what paraphrasing was, so I proceeded to read the book and take out information.  After I was done with the book I put all of my information together and began writing my paper.  I took the words from the book and reworded them the best that I could.  After I turned in my paper, my teacher left a note on it saying that he wanted to see my after class.  After class I met with him, and he explained that I had violated the honor code and that he would turn me in to the dean.  I then had to meet with the dean and she explained that I had been charged for breaking the Elon honor code.  While I was meeting with her she explained that I could admit that I had violated the code or take my case before the judicial hearing board.  After two days I decided that I would admit that I had broken the code and face the punishment.

                After admitting that I had done it, I was worried sick.  Because I play baseball, I wasn’t sure what was going to happen to me and my scholarship.  On top of that, it was during exam time.  I had to study for my exams and worry about what was going to happen to me.  This was one of the most stressful times of my life.  When I finally told my parents they were also concerned for me.  They were pretty upset and did not know what to do.  This put an unnecessary stress on their already stressful lives.

                I believe that the Elon honor code is very helpful and should be enforced when necessary.  Students need to know when they should use certain information and how to use it properly.  When students get out on their own in the real world, they will know how to write a correct paper for their choice of careers.  If I were to make this mistake trying to get a job, this could cost me my job and any future I have in business.

                Some advice that I have for everyone is that you need to learn and understand the Honor Code word for word, and learn what you can and can’t do when writing a paper for one of your classes or it could hurt you very badly.  Buy books to help you, or find someone who knows what they are doing.  Use the writing center and get all of the help you can.  Good luck this year, and learn all you can.



#9  The following letter was written by a student who was found “responsible” for an academic honor code violation during the 1999-00 school year.  The letter appears exactly as the student wrote it; no corrections have been made.


                The Academic Honor Code is a major part of the Elon College system, for better or worse.  I had no prior conflicts with the honor code until this incident.  I was charged with not properly citing or documenting my reference materials in my paper.  Which simply amounts to the fact that I was lazy and I did not take the time to document my references.  However because of the way the Honor code is set up, there is no room for being lazy or for human error.  The Honor code is created in such a way as to make any lack of effort a violation, whether it is actually a violation or not.  The decision to admit was more or less a coerced confession.  I felt as if I had been strong-armed by the faculty and the system to state that I was guilty.  I was never at a position to plead my case, and the verdict of my guilt was decided before I even stepped foot into the Dean's office.  There was little or no discussion of the facts or circumstances surrounding the violation and nothing that I would have said or done would have changed the outcome of the violation.  I was very angered that the faculty and staff, who are supposedly here to help the student body, were so intent on crucifying a student for a first time infraction.  The feeling of indifference was the main emotion that I felt after talking with the dean, I realized there was nothing that could be done on my part so I simply gave up.  The Academic Honor Code is a valuable asset to any college when it is used correctly.  However the Academic Honor Code at Elon College is not one of the institutions that uses it correctly.  My advice to the incoming freshmen at Elon is to never forget to document or get on the bad side of a teacher, because for the slightest infraction, you might endure the same injustice that I have.



#10  The following letter was written by a student who was found “responsible” for an academic honor code violation during the 1999-00 school year.  The letter appears exactly as the student wrote it; no corrections have been made.


                Every classroom has an honor code hanging on the wall, but I never paid attention to it.  I think most of you as freshmen may be in the same situation as me.  After you read this letter, please read the honor code carefully and be aware of it.

                Last semester I had a lot of things to do, some assignments due at the same day.  For one class, the teacher told us to write something about another country and I really don't know a lot about it.  After I did research on the Internet and some books I still have no idea.  Then I remembered, I wrote the same topic when I was in high school.  So I found that paper and copied some part from there.  The problem is that the old paper I wrote has some part from the Internet.  I turned in the paper.  The other day I got the call from the Academic Affairs office and there is something wrong with my paper.  There were two big messages exactly from the Internet.  I scared.  I don't know what going to happened to me.  I didn’t mean to cheat.  The office called me answers the questions, through the whole conversation I responsible for this case and charged with an "F" in this class.  All the hard work and papers I done before was gone.  I shouldn't do that.  For a long time I had a bad mood.  I don't want to talk to anyone, because that's not a good thing to tell.  My GPA goes down because of it.  I still can retake it but this "F" will always be there.  I don't know how to tell my parents and how to face the professor.  I disrespect him.  At the same time, I realized how important to understand the Honor Code.  I appreciate school give me another chance and stopped me early.  This experience I will never forget in rest of my life.  It will always warn me to be honest.

                I share this experience with you because I don't want any of you to do the same thing I did.  My Elon 101 class talked about the honor code before, but I didn’t pay attention.  I never thought it could have happened to me.  The truth is, it can easily happen to everyone, so be serious and always remember to do your homework early and do it your own.  No matter how bad it is, it's your job.  If you really work hard for it you will get what you deserve.



#11  The following letter was written by a student who was found “responsible” for an academic honor code violation during the 1999-00 school year.  The letter appears exactly as the student wrote it; no corrections have been made.

Dear Elon College Freshman,

                When I came to Elon College, one of the first things our orientation leader went over was the Elon College Honor Code.  I had previously known that if you cheated or plagiarized in any way, shape, or form, that was considered a violation of the honor code.  However, the Elon College Honor Code goes beyond that.  It is used to ensure that every student at this college will receive equal opportunity to utilize all the educational materials and facilities.  This means that we must take care of all books, magazines, or journals we use so that our fellow students will be able to use them after us.  In just about every single one of my classes, there was a note in all capitals at the end of the syllabus that said each student is expected to adhere to the Elon College Honor Code or something of that nature.  There was even one class where the professor was such a stickler about the honor code that any assignment or exam we turned in had to have this statement written out and then our signature underneath it to ensure to him that we had abided by this code which governs all academic affairs at our school.

                I tore pages out of a journal in our library to turn in with a paper for one of my classes.  We were supposed to photocopy the article and attach it with a brief summary, however, I neglected to make the photocopy, and used the original.  I was thus charged with a violation of the Elon College Honor Code due to the fact that this was considered vandalism and/or stealing of academic property.  I admitted to the infraction under the impression that if I went ahead and admitted my wrong that it would be much better in the long run for everyone involved to not have to go through the entire judicial process.  I also hoped that it would bring less of a penalty.  I felt really selfish for doing something so thoughtless as to take an article from a magazine that a future student in the same class may have been able to use.

                I was worried that I would be kicked out of school for this violation.  That was one reason why I went ahead with my decision to come clean.  I thought of how terrible it would be for me to get thrown out of school right at the end of my last semester before I will graduate.  I would advise anyone coming to Elon as a student or who is already a student to be sure about what the rules are.  You must be sure to adhere to the honor code in the classroom, but you must also realize that it extends out into the community as a whole.  If it were not for such guidelines as these, there would be all kinds of cheating and plagiarizing going on.  The honor code ensures that we all will be given the same chance for a good education and have equal chance to pursue the whole concept of original thought.  Original thought is something that cheating and plagiarizing seriously deters.




#12  The following letter was written by a student who was found “responsible” for an academic honor code violation during the 1999-00 school year.  The letter appears exactly as the student wrote it; no corrections have been made.


                I have always been under the impression that I was fairly familiar with the rules and regulations of the Elon College Honor Code.  However, I do not think I was ever aware of the consequences of the Elon College Honor Code.  Coming to college with a strict high school background, I felt comfortable with the words "cheating" and "plagiarism," yet I don't think the word plagiarism came to mind when I was copying another students' homework problem for a class.  In fact, the only thing I was thinking was "everybody does it and it's no big deal to do just this once!"  Nonetheless, a couple days later I was labeled as having plagiarized and accepted serious consequences.

                When I had been called in to the Assistant Dean for Academic Affair’s office, I was extremely nervous and loaded down with confusion and misconception.  Although I knew I had done something I have seen many students do now and then, I was still uneasy because I had never imagined the consequences it would bear.  I had indeed plagiarized, which technically means using somebody else’s work or ideas.  There is no other way to put it.  When I was asked to accept or not accept this violation held against me, I uncomfortably accepted.  I knew I did it and lying would make it harder than simply taking the responsibility.  This had never happened to me before and I wanted to get it over with as quickly as possible.  There was no way around it and all of a sudden I had actually plagiarized, just as easy and fast as that.  I came to Elon College as an innocent goody two shoes from a small, private high school where the worst thing a student did was get caught with gum.  This incident was not supposed to happen to me.

                Having to admit this charge held against me was difficult for two reasons.  Firstly, it was difficult having to admit this to the Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs, someone who does not know anything about me except that I have plagiarized.  I felt very low and humiliated.  It was the worst first impression and my feelings were definitely hurt.  I felt like the Assistant Dean only saw me as a no good cheater, not for who I am.  Telling my advisor will be the most humiliating part because that is someone who in my field who highly values my work.  She will be advising me throughout my entire career at Elon College.  This was also difficult for a second reason.  I believe it is easier to be reprimanded for something you know you did wrong, and knew it was wrong at the time you were doing it.  Something which seemed as “insignificant” as copying down another students’ answer to a math problem can get you in more trouble than you had intended.

                Of course, I was crying at the time I found out what was going to happen to me.  I couldn’t believe I’d ever have to call my parents and explain this to them.  It wasn’t as hard for me to deal with as imagined because of the aforementioned reason.  I told my mother that if I had understood it was terribly wrong and my professor was going to take it as seriously as he did, I wouldn’t have done it.  She just kept saying, “did you learn from it” and I said yes.  Having to admit it to my friends was somewhat frustrating but not very difficult because they were understanding.  Most of them were in the same class and completely understood it from a student’s perspective, having admitted they’ve done it once or twice.  However, it’s a shame I had to be the guinea pig.  I think that they took my problem as an example to be more careful going about doing what a student would think is “okay.”  Having to admit this to the teacher of that class was uncomfortable and awkward.  I told him exactly how I felt.  I told him he should have students hand in the assignment another way if he intends to take the actions he took with me with each student.  Also, clear up the confusion between students working together on the assignment and actually copying down another’s homework problem.  There was a fine line between the two in my case.  My professor was recommended to give me an “F” in his class by the Assistant Dean and of course, he did.  I wanted to tell him his decision affected my scholarship money and much more.  However, not feeling extremely fond of him at the moment, I digressed.  That “F” factored nicely into my GPA.  In addition to writing this, I also have an academic censure of having committed a first offense on my record.

                I believe having an academic honor code for a college is crucial.  It encourages and threatens students to do their own work and if violated, assumes the students to take responsibility and learn from it.  I’m not quite sure if copying a homework problem should have the same consequences as using a universal research paper off the Internet or cheating on an exam, but those are not decisions for me to make.  My only advice is to be very familiar with the Elon College Honor Code.  Basically, if something doesn’t seem right when you’re doing it, it probably isn’t right.  I would be sure your professor is also familiar with the Elon College Honor Code and be sure he/she establishes set rules for the class in the beginning of the semester.  Make sure he/she established them verbally and on a written document.  If he/she mentions a syllabus on the Internet, read it.  Encourage your teacher to also hand it out or go over it in class to avoid confusion and misconception.  Be sure you know the consequences and what can or will happen to you if you work with somebody on an assignment because that is very similar to having the same wrong answer.  And if you are committed for having violated the Elon College Honor Code, just admit it because you’ll only make it harder on yourself it you don’t.



#13  The following letter was written by a student who was found “responsible” for an academic honor code violation during the 1999-00 school year.  The letter appears exactly as the student wrote it; no corrections have been made.

Dear Freshmen,

                It is a little ironic because I was sitting in my Elon 101 class listening to letters like this one and now here I am writing one.  I was aware of the Elon Honor Code.  I just never thought I would have an Honor Code Violation against me.

                I was charged with cheating and I never thought it would happen to me.  The day my teacher passed back the test I knew that she knew I had done something wrong.  My heart sunk to the floor.  All class period long I could not even look my teacher in the eye.  I was so embarrassed and ashamed.  My teacher called me to her office after class and I knew exactly what she was going to say.  I got so nervous and was not sure how to act at first and the first thing that came to mind was to tell the truth.  So I confessed and it was the best thing that I could have done, the truth always helps.  All I wanted to do was cry and I really thought that I was going to.  I knew what I did was wrong and I was hoping that I could erase the whole thing, but that was not possible.  I went back to my room and read the Elon handbook on the section about the Honor Code so that I knew what to expect.  I kept this awful thing inside me until I could not take it and I told my suitemate.  She gave me the best advice and that was to talk to my advisor.  So I made an appointment to talk to her and let her know what I did so she could help me out.  We went over the consequences and I knew in my mind that was the best thing to do.  I also told my best friend and she helped my through it as well.

                My only advice for you would be not to violate the Honor Code.  It is stupid and not worth failing a class over.  If you do, however, make the mistake that I made, you should be honest and tell the truth.  Then talk to your advisor and definitely talk to your teacher.  Don’t hate your teacher because it’s not their fault.  Remember you are freshmen and you will make mistakes.  Just tell the truth and make sure you work hard the rest of the semester—don’t think that it is all over.  There is a chance you will not fail the class but you need to show your teacher that you made a mistake and that you are willing to work and want to do a good job.  If there is one thing you get out of this letter let it be to tell the truth.  You cannot go wrong with the truth.



#14  The following letter was written by a student who was found “responsible” for an academic honor code violation during the 1999-00 school year.  The letter appears exactly as the student wrote it; no corrections have been made.


                It was my last semester of my senior year when I was brought up on a violation of the honor code.  I, like everyone else, had a severe case of “senior-itis.”  It was extremely difficult to focus on school when graduation was just around the corner and I’d be out in the “real world.”

                Previously, I had never had a bad experience with the Elon Honor Code; in fact, I was an “A” student.  I was actually not aware of the policy (which is defined in the student handbook).  I was charged with copying another student’s work.  At first, I felt relieved I didn’t have to spend over 5 hours completing the assignment.  But that feeling soon subsided the day I was charged with a violation.  A million thoughts ran through my mind.  I was debating whether to confess or not, even though I knew, morally, I should confess.  I went through an entire day with these feelings of guilt, remorse, and confusion.  Finally, I just wanted to get the situation over with so I could focus on my daily routines.

                I contacted my parents, and their support actually got me through the ordeal.  My parents said, “Everybody makes mistakes, that’s how we learn.  You're only human.”  I was so thankful for that comment and it put my mind at ease, since it was their thoughts I was most concerned with.

                The Academic Honor Code places upon students a high level of standards.  It is necessary in order to maintain honesty and self-ascertainment.  I suggest you be familiar with the Academic Honor Code in the student handbook.  Realize the consequences are serious and the process carries with it a great deal of emotional stress.  Do the best you can.  That’s all anyone can ever ask of you.


#15  The following letter was written by a student who was found “responsible” for an academic honor code violation during the 1999-00 school year.  The letter appears exactly as the student wrote it; no corrections have been made.


                I had a sudden experience with the Elon College Honor Code.  It took place during the end of the semester, about two weeks before final exams.  The class that I was taking was a pretty difficult one and I already was not doing too well in it.  The professor had given one of the easiest assignments of the year.  All you had to do was to turn the work in.  The work was to be handed in a week from that class period.  I thought this was great because all of the other assignments you had to turn in the assignments at the following class period.  So basically, I took my time with the work.  When the time came to turn it in, I still had not done it because I thought of an easy way out.  My easy way out was asking someone for his or her papers and making my own out of it.  I said this is a piece of cake and it will give me a good grade.

                I was warned by someone to be conscious of the honor code because someone they knew just got in trouble for violating it.  I didn’t really stress it though.  I got a friend of mine’s papers that was in the class with me and made my own papers out of them and handed in the papers.  A few classes later, I noticed that while the professor was handing back papers, my friend not me got our papers back.  We got all of our papers back except for the ones that I used.  That’s when I began to worry.  After class I asked the professor "What’s up with the papers?" and the professor said that there was something wrong with the papers and I would get them back at the next class session.  It eased my mind, but I was still worrying about it.  Finally, I came to find out that I was charged with violating the honor code by plagiarism. 

                I had to meet with the Dean of Academic Affairs and talk about the situation.  I ended up admitting to plagiarism.  I felt so bad.  It was probably one of the worst feelings in my life.  I was talking bad about myself, calling myself stupid and all sorts of things, something I never do and actually mean.  I just embarrassed myself and I caused heat on my friend.  I told my friends about the situation and they just kept it real with me and made me realize what had gone down.  My parents and everybody older than me with significance would be highly disappointed in me.  I couldn’t possibly tell my sister about this because she is an English graduate and would have given me the biggest speech I have ever heard of in my entire life.  It was a bad time for me.

                The significance of the honor code is to ensure fairness as well as hard work.  The honor code is a serious matter at Elon College.  There are a lot of people that do work that is not their own.  You may have an assignment that your friend is good at or has already done in the past, but don’t go that route.  It is easy to get someone else’s paper, but is not that easy to do your own work.  My advice to you is to first do all of your own work and don’t let anyone use your work because you can get in trouble too.  It is not worth it.  Learn more about the Academic Honor Code here at Elon and be very conscious of it also.


#16  The following letter was written by a student who was found “responsible” for an academic honor code violation during the 1999-00 school year.  The letter appears exactly as the student wrote it; no corrections have been made.

                Previous to the last few weeks of my senior year of college, I thought I knew exactly what the honor code was.  I have completed all four years of college and have graduated with a double major.  I have always done well in school, and never have questioned the way in which I write papers.  During the last week of school, I sadly found out that I was not writing in the correct manner, and I was not fully aware of what the honor code at Elon College is.

                I ended up being charged with plagiarism.  My initial feelings about the situation included fear and ignorance.  I did not understand how I made it through four years of college with exceptional grades and never fully understood what plagiarism was.  I was writing a review of a journal article and paraphrased throughout the entire paper.  I was not aware that I had to cite everything because I cited the article at the top of the paper.  Little did I know, I was taking credit for someone else’s work.  Due to ignorance and not going through the student handbook in the proper manner, I was facing the possibility of not graduating with the double major that I had worked so hard for.  When being charged with plagiarism, it is recommended by the dean that your professor fails you in the class.  If I would have failed the class, I would not have been able to graduate with that degree.  Luckily I had another degree to fall back on. However, that did not feel comforting at the time.  I felt as if all of the hard work that I put into school in order to graduate on time with a double major was a complete waste of time.  It hurt even worse because I was totally unaware of the fact that I was plagiarizing.  I now realize how important it is to go through the handbook make sure that you fully understand all aspects of plagiarism.  Otherwise, much of the hard work and time that you put into your school work could be for nothing.

                I really recommend as freshmen in college, that each and every one of you take the Honor Code more seriously than I did.  I thought I knew what it meant, when in reality I only understood parts of it.  Read the section on plagiarism very thouroughly, and if you have any questions make sure that you ask your professor or advisor.

                I am thankful that my incorrect writing style was pointed out to me before going on to graduate school.  In graduate school, plagiarism is treated extremely seriously, and it can get you into a vast amount of trouble.  Although I had to experience a huge amount of fear and emotionality during the whole conviction process, I am glad that I now fully understand what plagiarism is.  And I hope that you will be able to gain from my experience.

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