The Globe’s Point: Honor Code a poor choice for Point Park

Originally published in the Globe April 9, 2014
[technically the Globe’s Point is authorless, but I wrote it this week and I really like it. Plus I cover USG so I’m pretty sure anyone who reads the Globe is going to assume I wrote it. So. And since we’re talking, I also wanted the title to be “Dishonor on your Code.”]

At this week’s United Student Government (USG) meeting, Joe Rittenhouse, senior acting major, brought up the idea of a Point Park Honor code, claiming it would give students a sense of pride and responsibility.

According to Rittenhouse, who transferred from a university with an honor code, having students attend a session about it and signing a contract to abide by the Honor Code would create a positive learning environment. The Honor Code would be an agreement on the part of the students to represent the institution and would give them a sense of pride in their university.

Director of Judicial Affairs JW Tabacchi was also at the meeting and said that implementing an honor code would be a “monumental culture shift” and require students to self-regulate. Everything would change, from behavior to academics. It would have to be initiated at all levels of the University.

Is Point Park open to such a massive cultural upheaval? Is it even necessary? Perhaps if we were a religious or military institution, a professional or performance school, the answer would be yes.

But not at Point Park.

The issue is two-pronged. Point Park boasts diversity in students, faculty and programs. You have dancers learning next to engineers learning next to journalists. You have students from all over the world learning English for the first time next to kids who grew up Yinzers. There is a huge variety of cultural and career values that cannot and should not be condensed into a paragraph-long honor code.

The second problem is much more fundamental. Point Park is a university whose goal is successful alumni. We’re not proud because we’re going to Point Park; we’re proud because we learned how to do our job better than anyone else.

Sure, Point Park will get us there, but that’s the future. While we’re here, our loyalties lie with the professors who teach us the fundamentals, the speakers who show us the industry, the programs that give us real world experience.

If this University is going to be “where real meets world,” is cannot force us to adhere to a single set of ethics. It cannot make us sign a hollow promise to obey a fluffy statement designed to make us snitch on ne’er-do-wells out of a sense of responsibility to an institution.

What it can and should do is give us a base to jump off of. That vastly varies from student to student, and has nothing to do with a slip of paper with “Honor Code” written on top and a signature hastily scrawled across the bottom.

Because what Point Park is to students is the first step to a successful career. It’s a network of advisers and teachers who want us to succeed. We’re not the Crimson Tide. We’re not “OH. IO.” We are artists and writers and dancers and builders and scientists and doctors and actors and makers. Our pride and responsibility belongs to our work, and that’s where is should stay.

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