(Adopted by the Student Body, May 23, 1945; amended April 27, 1949; May 15, 1957; February 11, 1959; March 14, 1962; April 26, 1967; January 28, 1971; March 3, 1971; March 8, 1972; October, 1974; April, 1975; February 28, 1978; September 25, 1979; February 24, 1981; January 8, 1986; January 14, 1988; January 8, 1990; February 25, 1997; December 13, 2000; February 16, 2001; June 18, 2008, February 10, 2010; February 27, 2014; February 3, 2017)
All academic work at Vanderbilt University is conducted under the Honor Code. For the successful operation of the honor system, the cooperation of the whole student body is essential. It is the duty of each member of the student body to show his or her appreciation of the trust placed in him or her under this system, not alone by his or her own conduct, but by his or her insistence on the absolute honesty of others in his or her class. It should be a point of honor among the various classes to hold their members to the standard of the University, and all students should be ready to report to the Honor Council anyone who may violate this trust, immediately and without discrimination. For the purpose of encouraging honesty and investigating cases of alleged dishonesty on the part of the students, an Honor Council is established with the following Constitution.
The name of the council shall be the Undergraduate Honor Council of Vanderbilt University. The Undergraduate Honor Council of Vanderbilt University shall hereinafter be referred to as the Honor Council.
The Honor Council is an organization of students that seeks to preserve the integrity of the Honor Code at Vanderbilt University. It aims to secure justice for any student under suspicion of dishonesty, to vindicate his or her name if innocent, and, if guilty, to protect the honor and standing of the remaining students by his or her punishment as shall be set forth in the Bylaws. It proposes to do this in accordance with the procedures, rules, and organization hereinafter set forth.
Section 1. The Honor Council shall take cognizance of the giving or receiving of aid by any student without the knowledge or consent of the instructor concerned.
This applies to all tests, themes, term papers, and examinations, and to any other work unless specifically designated by an instructor not to be under the Honor Code.
Section 2. Any student taking a course or courses in the College of Arts and Science, Peabody College, the School of Engineering, or Blair School of Music, regardless of where registered, is, to this extent, under the jurisdiction of the Honor Council and subject to any penalties it may impose.
Section 3. The following pledge shall be signed on all work: “I pledge on my honor that I have neither given nor received unauthorized aid on this examination.”
Membership and Elections
Section 1: At the close of the fall semester each year, applications for undergraduate students to join the Honor Council will be made available. Applications will be reviewed by a committee consisting of student members and the Honor Council adviser. Students who submit outstanding applications will be interviewed. Based on application and interview performance, applicants will be placed on an Honor Council ballot to be voted on by students within their undergraduate college.
Section 2: During each election cycle, students will be elected to the Honor Council as follows:
Nine Arts and Science students distributed among the freshman, sophomore, and junior classes.
Three Blair students distributed among the freshman, sophomore, and junior classes.
Four Peabody students distributed among the freshman, sophomore, and junior classes.
Four Engineering students distributed among the freshman, sophomore, and junior classes.
The above distributions may be adjusted within each election cycle as necessary by the Honor Council President and as necessary based on the distribution of students in each college.
Section 3: Members of the Honor Council must maintain a 2.5 cumulative GPA to remain in good standing.
At the end of the first full year of an Honor Council member’s term, he/she will have the option to resign his/her membership. In case a vacancy occurs on the Honor Council, it shall be filled at the next scheduled selection. The person selected will serve only for the unexpired term.
The Honor Council shall elect from its number the following officers:
A president, who must be either a junior or a senior and shall have served one year previously as a member of the Honor Council;
Three vice presidents, each assigned specific responsibilities based on the needs of the Honor Council and outlined in the Bylaws; and
Up to three recording secretaries.
Board of Faculty Advisers
Section 1. The Chancellor or the Chancellor’s designee shall appoint a board of faculty advisers to advise the Honor Council during hearings.
Section 2. The board of faculty advisers shall consist of 30 faculty members who shall serve at the pleasure of the Chancellor.
Section 3. The Honor Council adviser, along with the president of the Honor Council and the board of faculty advisers, shall provide an annual report to the Faculty Senate and other relevant University personnel on the status of the honor system.
Section 1. Regular meetings of the Honor Council shall be held at the discretion of the president.
Section 2. It shall be the duty of each Honor Council member to attend all meetings and hearings as requested. Each member is entitled to a number of absences; the president shall set this number.
Section 3. All meetings shall be conducted according to Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised.
Two-thirds of the members then serving shall always constitute a quorum of the Honor Council, except in case of a hearing, when six members shall constitute a quorum for a full panel hearing and two members for a small panel hearing.
Full Panel Hearing
Section 1. No one shall be competent to sit on the Honor Council if he or she is related by blood or marriage to an accused, or is a member of the same fraternity or sorority as the accused. The Honor Council may, by a majority vote, declare any member incompetent for other grounds.
Section 2. All cases shall be heard privately.
Section 3. A six member hearing panel will hear the evidence in the case. All hearings shall require the presence of a faculty adviser to proceed. This faculty adviser shall file a written report with the recording secretary after each hearing.
Section 4. In case of a hearing, the verdict shall be “guilty” or “not guilty,” a majority of the six votes shall be necessary to convict the accused. The presiding officer must vote in all decisions. Written notice of the decision will be sent to the accused, the accuser, the registrar of the school in which he or she is enrolled, the University registrar, the instructor concerned (in cases in which the accuser is not the instructor), other relevant University personnel, and, in cases resulting in suspension or expulsion, the parents of the accused student.
Section 5. The president may appoint a faculty member as an expert witness.
Section 6. All business conducted on investigations, hearings, business meetings, retreats, and other official Honor Council functions shall be held in strictest confidence among the members of the Honor Council. In addition, all information concerning investigations and hearings shall be so held by the individual members of the Honor Council then present; they may not discuss this information with other persons, including other Honor Council members who are not on that particular case. However, information of a nonconfidential nature may be made available by the Honor Council president to the student body through the campus newspaper, radio station, et cetera.
Small Panel Hearing
Section 1. In the event that an accused student admits guilt during an investigation and the student has not been found guilty in a prior Honor Council hearing, that student shall have the right to request a small panel hearing rather than the full panel hearing.
Section 2. A small panel hearing shall consist of a faculty adviser, a presiding officer of the Honor Council, and one additional Undergraduate Honor Council member.
Section 3. Any decision reached by the panel must be unanimous. If the panel is unable to reach a unanimous decision, the case must be referred to a full panel hearing.
Section 4. If the panel decides that the penalty for the accused student should be more severe than suspension for one semester or that consideration by the full panel is desirable, the case should be referred to a full panel hearing.
The Honor Council shall have the power to impeach, suspend, or otherwise discipline its own members as shall be prescribed in the Bylaws.
Each new student entering the University will be informed by the Honor Council as to the functions of the honor system and his or her obligations to the Honor Code and will be provided with a copy of the Constitution and Bylaws of the Honor Council on request and will be bound by the honor system upon registration.
Section 1. In case a student withdraws from the University after a charge has been made against him or her by another student or by the Honor Council and before the hearing, the facts shall be recorded by the Honor Council just as if the accused had been present. The president will place a notation on the transcript of the accused, who will not be allowed to reenter the University until he or she has had a hearing before the Honor Council. Notice of such hearings will be sent to the student at his or her home or other known address.
Amendments to this constitution shall require for their adoption the approval of two-thirds of the total membership of the Honor Council and ratification by a majority of the voting student body.