New, Senate-Approved Academic Integrity Policy

“I will not discuss anything included on this assessment with any other student until all sections/all students have completed the assessment.” 

Many of you may have seen this new academic integrity affirmation on a recent test. This new addendum aims to bolster our academic integrity and is a progressive step for the school that reinforces the importance of strong moral character. Though it might take time to sign during a test, those five seconds are negligible, compared to the time of working out a possible problem of academic integrity. Rather than viewing the statement as an imposition, I urge the community to see it as a confirmation of integrity that leaves both students and teachers confident that assignments and examinations are completed honestly.

As a school, we pride ourselves not only on educating academically but also educating on ethics and character. But, there is always an urge to help our classmates and friends or even steer them in a certain direction following a test. As School President Will McCormack said in his explanation to the school, “Wanting to help out classmates and friends is a natural impulse [at our school], and the point at which this unintentionally becomes cheating can be blurred. Our hope is that this statement can resolve that confusion and give teachers peace of mind that students taking the same test later in the day at another block aren’t benefiting from any unfair advantages.” Signing this statement can offer students a distinct reason for maintaining the legitimacy and integrity of assignments in the face of prodding friends. Furthermore, the rules surrounding academic integrity have always existed, but having them overtly stated and regularly seen helps to ingrain them into the minds of the student body. It also protects students from doubt over the integrity of the assessment because if the statement is signed, then the test should be uncompromised. I support this firm stance by the school and the Senate because too much leeway can often lead to questionable decisions.

In all reality, signing this statement is not a radical departure because we have always and are always subject to the Honor Code. But having this assurance for teachers as well as students seems to be the right step for the school going forward. So when you find yourself signing under the statement on your next test, just know that your messy scribble transcends the page to foster a profound sense of confidence and integrity at Belmont Hill – it goes a long way.

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