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HONOR CODES RIGHTLY HOLD STUDENTS TO A HIGHER STANDARD

My alma mater, Haverford College -- like West Point and Fredonia State College -- also has an honor code requiring peer enforcement. "Tattling" is a concept for elementary school. When it's time to play with the big boys and girls, we must be ethically and morally accountable to one another, not just to some disembodied authority.

To give a simple, real-world example, consider my responsibilities were I to have knowledge of a surgeon colleague operating while drunk. If I do not stop this impaired doctor and allow him to continue to harm his patients, then I am guilty of harm as well. Will his patients accept my excuse that I didn't want to "tattle" on him? Extending the reasoning to a more societal level, most ethicists agree that German citizens had an obligation to step forward and actively help the victims of the Nazis; it was not enough to simply not join the Third Reich.

The Fredonia students quoted in The News article (and surprisingly, some faculty as well) expressed dismay about the policy. However, holding students to high standards, both academically and ethically, has not harmed Haverford or West Point. They remain elite institutions precisely because of their honor codes, not despite them.

James Reingold, M.D.

East Aurora