If Wikipedia is to be trusted (I know, a risky proposition!), the month of July ushers in several celebrations of independence in countries around the world, from Algeria to Venezuela (not quite A to Z). This week seems especially busy with Algeria (July 5th), Belarus (July 3), Burundi (July 1), Canada (July 1), Cape Verde (July 5), Comoros (July 6), Malawi (July 6), Rwanda (July 1), Somalia (July 1), United States (July 4), and Venezuela (July 5) all celebrating independence.
The celebration of independence is, at its core, a celebration of fairness and respect – two of our academic integrity fundamental values. Fairness, in the sense that independence recognizes that the people who live in the country are best governed by themselves, rather than by some distant ruler. And respect, in the sense that independence says “We see you, we acknowledge you, and we value you” as entity with the right to exist.
So, as we recognize and celebrate the independence of so many countries this week, it seems like a good time to remind ourselves how fundamental fairness and respect are to academic integrity, and specifically the way in which we treat students who violate academic integrity. Honor Code Schools might be the epitome of independence (the students “govern” themselves), but those of us not in honor code schools can also celebrate independence and fairness by including students in roles throughout the process, in the design of policies and procedures, and in the decision of sanctions. And, all of us can show our respect to students, yes even when they violate academic integrity, by making sure our processes allow our students to be seen, heard, acknowledged and valued. It is only through fairness and respect, after all, that we can be trusted to create a culture and context in which independence with integrity can thrive.
(Photo credit: Rakicevic Nenad)