Honor Code


  1. Honor Code Statement
  2. Academic Dishonesty
  3. Honor Court Constitution
    1. Purpose
    2. Composition
    3. Procedures
    4. Sanctions
    5. Records
    6. Instruction of the Community
    7. Amendment
  4. Appeals Board
    1. Jurisdiction
    2. Composition
    3. Procedures
    4. Records
  5. Perjury
  6. Notification of Parents
  7. Honor Code Pledge
  1. Honor Code Statement

    Upon matriculation and once each year, all students must sign the following pledge:

    By my signature below, I affirm (reaffirm) on my honor that I shall abstain from dishonesty in all academic work. I have read and understood the regulations governing academic conduct and the Constitution of the Honor Court, and I shall abide by their provisions. It is my obligation to take action and to report violations of the Honor Code to the proper authorities.

    Students who suspect or witness violations of the Honor Code are obligated to report the suspected dishonesty to the instructor in the course, to the Chair of the Honor Court, or to the Dean of Students.

  2. Academic Dishonesty

    Any form of academic dishonesty is a serious offense in an academic community. At Hamilton such dishonesty will often result in removal from the course, assignment of an XF for the course, or separation from the College community, or some combination of these. It is essential, therefore, that every student understand the standards of academic honesty and how to avoid dishonesty by proper acknowledgment of intellectual indebtedness. The Court will not excuse a lack of awareness or understanding of what constitutes academic dishonesty. Academic dishonesty includes but is not limited to:

    1. Plagiarism: Failure to acknowledge ideas or phrases used in any paper, exercise, or project submitted in a course but gained from another person. Guidelines for proper documentation are available from many sources, including the Hamilton College Style Sheet, which is provided to all first year students and may be obtained at the Library or at the Reading and Writing Center.
    2. Misrepresentation of falsification of data in any course work.
    3. Self-plagiarism: the submission of one piece of work in more than one course without the explicit permission of the instructors involved.
    4. Cooperative or collaborative effort in course work without acknowledgment or the explicit permission of the instructor. This is not meant to inhibit discussion and debate of academic subjects either inside or outside the classroom.
    5. Cheating on examinations or tests: to give or receive assistance from written material, another person, his or her paper, or any other source, or to attempt to do so, during an examination or test. The only exceptions shall be at the explicit instruction of the teacher of the course.
    6. The submission of work as one's own that has been prepared by another person.
    7. Forgery or falsification of academic documents. The Chair of the Honor Court, after consultation with the Dean of Students, may remand such cases to the Judicial Board.

  3. Honor Court Constitution

    1. Purpose

      The purpose of the Honor Court shall to uphold Hamilton standards of academic dishonesty and to insure protection of students' rights in questions of alleged violations of the Hamilton College Honor Code.

    2. Composition

      The Honor Court shall be composed of the non-voting student Chair and ten voting members, consisting of seven students and three faculty members. The students, two seniors, two juniors, two sophomores, and one first-year student, shall, be elected according to Student Assembly election procedures during the spring semester of the preceding academic year, except in the case of the first-year student, who will be elected during the fall semester of the current academic year. Student members of the Court may not be on academic or disciplinary probation.

      The Chair shall be elected in the spring by the outgoing Court from among candidates nominated by that court.

      Faculty members shall be elected by the Faculty at its May meeting, one each year for staggered three year terms, from a slate nominated by the Nomination Committee of the Student Assembly Central Council. The written consent of the nominees must be presented to the Academic Council with the slate at least two weeks in advance of the election. At least two candidates will be nominated for each vacancy. If the Student Assembly is unable to present a slate, the Academic Council shall nominate candidates. In accordance with faculty rules, candidates may be nominated from the floor.

      If the Chair resigns or cannot serve for any reason, the Court will elect a Chair from among its members. If there is a vacancy on the Court during the academic year, it shall publish notice of the vacancy in two consecutive issues of The Spectator and shall elect by a majority vote a substitute Court member from the names of interested and qualified persons responding to the notice.

      All members of the Court will be invited to every Court hearing. A quorum of the Court shall consist of six voting members: five students and one faculty, plus the Chair, who shall not vote. If a quorum cannot be attained owing to disqualification of members for conflict of interest, the case must be scheduled at a time when it can be heard by the maximum number of Court members who are qualified to hear the case. In all other instances when a quorum is not attained, the hearing shall be rescheduled.

      Any member of the Court who believes that he or she has a conflict of interest in a particular case may disqualify himself or herself after consultation with the Chair. The Chair may also request a disqualification of a member of the Court by majority vote of the Court if the Chair believes that the member has a conflict of interest. In addition, the accused may request that the Chair seek disqualification of any member of the Court if the accused believes that a conflict of interest exists with that member. The accused must present to the Chair written explanation as to the nature of the alleged conflict of interest. The Chair will have final authority to determine whether or not to seek disqualification from the Court.

    3. Procedures

      Throughout these procedures, the Dean of students is understood to mean the Dean or his or her designee.

      Violations of the Honor Code are considered to be infractions against Hamilton College. Complaints against students for alleged violations of the Honor Code shall be presented to the Dean of Students or to the Chair in writing. The Dean of Students and/or the Chair shall investigate the charges and gather any form of evidence that may aid the members of the Court in reaching a decision. The Dean of Students and the Chair shall determine if the case warrants a hearing. In no circumstance will the Dean of Students or the Chair discuss the case with other members of the Court, except in the presence of the accused.

      If it is determined that the case does not warrant a hearing, the case shall be dismissed. The complainant and the accused shall be informed in writing. A decision not to hear a case may be appealed by the complainant or the accused to the Appeals Board, which may direct the Court to hear the case.

      If it is determined that the case warrants a hearing, the Dean of Students shall prepare a formal statement of the charges and of the evidence against the accused. The Dean of Students shall inform the accused in writing of the charges, the evidence, the range of sanctions available to the Court, and the following rights:

      1. to an expeditious hearing;
      2. to be informed in writing of the procedures to be followed in the hearing;
      3. to bring to the hearing an advisor, who must be another student, faculty member,or administrator not connected to the case, and who may not serve as witness but may only participate in a closing statement;
      4. to bring witnesses, but only witnesses who have facts that have bearing on the case;
      5. to confront and question his or her accuser, all witnesses, or other evidence;
      6. to testify, orally, or in a written document, or both, or not to testify;
      7. to make a closing statement in the proceedings;
      8. to request an administrative hearing, conducted by the Dean of Students and the Honor Court Chair, under the following conditions:
        1. The accused waives the right to an Honor Court hearing, and
        2. the accused admits a violation of the Honor Code, and
        3. the complainant and the accused acknowledge that they have no substantive disagreements about the facts of the case, and
        4. the violation is the student's first.

      The Dean of Students and the Honor Court Chair will decide whether to approve a request for an administrative hearing. A decision by the Dean of Students and Honor Court Chair to deny an administrative hearing may not be appealed. Only the accused student, the complainant, the Dean of Students, and the Honor Court Chair may take part in an administrative hearing. The complainant may suggest a sanction. After the hearing, the Dean of Students and the Honor Court chair will determine a sanction and the Dean will inform the student in writing of the decision. The possible sanctions are the same as those outlined in section III.4, except separation from the College. Any case that may result in separation from the College will be referred to the Honor Court. the accused may appeal the decision of the Dean of Students and the Honor Court Chair to the Appeals Board within one week of receiving written notification of the decision.

      All hearings of the Honor Court shall be de novo, without regard to any matter previously developed in informal proceedings, and no decision about responsibility in a case shall be made on evidence other than that presented at the hearing.

      The Chair shall convene the Court for a hearing to be held as soon as possible, but no sooner than three workdays following the delivery of the written charge to the accused. The accused shall present to the Dean of Students a written, point-by-point response to the charges at least 24 hours before the hearing. Any witness to be brought to testify should be identified in this statement. All points of the charges that are not specifically denied shall be deemed admitted, and evidence, testimony, and witnesses regarding these points shall be deemed unnecessary in the hearing. If the accused chooses not to attend the hearing, the Court has the authority to hear the case without the testimony of the accused.

      Normally, the Dean of Students will act as co-complainant with the faculty member of student who initially brought the complaint forward, and bear primary responsibility for presenting the case against the accused. If the faculty member or student who initiated the complaint then gives testimony in the hearing, he or she may be asked questions by members of the Court or the accused about that testimony. The faculty member or student lodging the complaint, however, may exercise the right to act as sole complainant for the hearing and present the case against the accused without appearing as a witness.

      Hearings are closed to observers. Neither party may have an attorney present at the hearing.

      The hearing shall proceed as described below.

      1. The Chair shall call the hearing to order, introduce all participants, and admonish all participants that they are expected to be truthful in all their testimony. No one may speak at the hearing unless recognized by the Chair, who shall have full authority over the proceedings.
      2. The accused and the complainant(s) may be present during the presentation of all testimony.
      3. The Chair shall introduce the formal statement of the charges and the accused's written response, copies of which shall have been provided to the members of the Court. The hearing shall consider only those charges in the written statement; new charges may not be introduced during the hearing. No proof shall be required for points that are deemed admitted.
      4. The complainant(s) shall provide evidence in support of the disputed charges, and may ask that witnesses be called. The accused may respond to that evidence, may question witnesses, and may ask that witnesses be called on his or her behalf. The complainant(s) may question the witnesses called by the accused.
      5. Witnesses shall be present only during their own testimony, but must remain available for the duration of the hearing unless excused by the Chair.
      6. Members of the Court may question any of the participants at any point during the hearing or may have any participants recalled for questioning at the discretion of the Chair.
      7. The complainant, and then he accused, shall have the opportunity to make closing statements.
      8. Following presentation of evidence, the hearing will be closed an everyone except members of the Court shall be dismissed from the hearing room. Participants may be asked by the Chair to remain available while the Court deliberates.
      9. Deliberations of the Court shall proceed in two stages. First, the Court will determine whether the accused student violated the Honor Code. A student will only be found in violation by a vote of at least two-thirds of the Court members who heard the case. If the Court determines that the accused student did not violate the Honor Code, the Chair will inform the accused student of the Court's findings. Second, if the Court determines that the accused student violated the Honor Code, then evidence of prior disciplinary action by the Honor Court shall be entered into the deliberations by the Chair, and the Court will determine a sanction by majority vote. Prior actions shall be considered only in the determination of sanctions and will normally lead to a more stringent sanction. Upon conclusion of the hearing, the Chair will prepare a written statement of the Court's findings, with rationale, for the Dean of Students. The Chair may discuss the Court's rationale with the Dean of Students. The Dean of Students will administer any disciplinary action determined by the Court that modifies a student's status at the College.
      10. The Court may conclude its deliberations and arrive at a sanction at the conclusion of the hearing, or it may, at the discretion of the Chair, postpone that conclusion for not more than 48 hours. Participants in the case shall be informed of the decision of the Court as soon as possible.
      11. Deliberations of the Court are strictly confidential. Members of the Court may not at any time discuss the facts of the case or particulars of the deliberations with anyone other than the Chair or a member of the Court that heard the case. Any member violating this provision will be dismissed from the Court by the Chair.
      12. A tape recording shall be kept of the hearing, unless both parties agree in advance to a different and more rigorous method of preserving a record of the proceedings. This document is an internal record of the College to be made available to the Appeals Board or to the President by the Dean of Students. A student preparing an appeal will also be allowed to listen to the tapes, under the supervision of the Dean of Students.
      13. A summary record of the proceedings before the Honor Court shall be kept and a copy of the record supplied to the accused if requested.

    4. Sanctions

      1. In the case of a first violation of the Honor Code, the Honor Court will assign a sanction commensurate with the nature of the violation. In all cases of a first violation, the student will be required to complete a tutorial on academic integrity. If a student does not complete the tutorial on academic integrity within a month of classes following notification of the sanction, the student will not be allowed to register for subsequent semesters, or graduate, until he or she has completed the tutorial. In addition, the Court may assign one of the following sanctions:
        1. In addition to any grade assigned by the faculty member for the particular academic work wherein the violation occurred, a record of the violation and all evidence pertaining to it will be kept in the student's file in the Dean of Students' Office until one year after graduation. A copy of any letter to the student from the Dean, and a report of the findings of the Honor Court, will be placed in this file, which will be open to the student's inspection. No record of the offense will appear on the student's transcript unless a second violation occurs.
        2. The student will be removed from the course, and a record of the violation and all evidence pertaining to it will be kept in the student's file in the Dean of Students' Office until one year after graduation. A copy of any letter to the student from the Dean, and a report of the findings of the Honor Court, will be placed in this file, which will be open to the student's inspection. No record of the offense will appear on the student's transcript unless a second violation occurs.
        3. The student will be removed from the course and the notation "XF" placed on his or her transcript, which will record that XF means "Removed from the course for academic dishonesty." When the cumulative average is calculated, F will carry the numerical value of FF. In addition, a record of the violation and all evidence and correspondence pertaining to it will remain a part of the student's permanent record, which will be open to the student's inspection.
      2. In the case of a second violation, after action by the Honor Court, an XF will be recorded permanently on the student's transcripts for both courses in which a violation occurred, and the student will be dismissed from the College. The notation "Expulsion for academic dishonesty" will appear on the transcript.
      3. Other actions: In addition to or in place of the above actions, the Honor Court may assign such other sanctions, including suspension, as it deems appropriate. It is understood, however, that such other actions will not involve the assignment of grades by the Court.

    5. Records

      The written record of the case shall consist of the written statement of the charges, the written response to the charges by the accused, any documentary evidence, the summary by the Chair of the Court's actions, and the letter from the Dean of Students informing the accused of the Court's findings. This record will be filed in the Dean of Students' Office and will be open to the student's inspection. The taped record is not part of the student's file and shall be kept in the office of the Dean of Students, to be destroyed after adjudication or decision in any appeal.

      After the week has elapsed during which an appeal could be made, a brief account of the case shall be made public by the Chair. The name of the student or students shall not appear. If an appeal is made, publication shall be postponed to await the outcome of the appeal.

      The Honor Court shall make provisions for interpreting this system to new students upon their entrance into the College. This shall be organized by the Chair and will include one session during new-student orientation and class discussions.

    6. Amendment

      This constitution may be amended by the procedures set forth in Article 13 of the Constitution of the Student Body of Hamilton College. The adopted amendments are contingent upon ratification by the Faculty.

  4. Appeals

    1. Jurisdiction

      The function of the Appeals Board is to ascertain that hearings conducted by the Honor Court and the Judicial Board have been conducted fairly, in accordance with the procedures outlined above, and without undue bias. Thus, the grounds for an appeal are limited to substantial, prejudicial, or procedural irregularities in the conduct of the original hearing. The Board will not substitute its own judgment for that of the original hearing body, nor will it concern itself with the possibility that others might have arrived at a different judgment. Its terms of reference extend only to investigation of the procedures by which the original judgment was reached. Decisions of the Appeals Board are final.

    2. Composition

      The Appeals Board shall be composed of five members: three faculty members and two students. Faculty members shall be elected by the Faculty at large for a three-year term, one vacancy arising per year. Student members shall be elected by the student body the previous spring, according to the Student Assembly election procedures. It is strongly preferred that students with prior Honor Court or Judicial Board experience be elected to this Board.

      A quorum shall consist of three members: two faculty members and one student. The Chair shall be one of the faculty members, designated by the Dean of the Faculty.

    3. Procedures

      A student subject to disciplinary action may appeal a disciplinary decision within one week of being informed in writing of that decision. The appeal must be made in writing to the Chair of the Appeals Board, with a copy to the Dean of Students, and must state in detail the reasons for the appeal. The Chair shall inform the respondent (the Chair of the Honor Court or Judicial Board) that an appeal has been made and shall invite the Dean of Students and the respondent to make written statements to the Appeals Board.

      Within one week of receipt of the appeal, the Chair shall convene the Board to determine whether the appeal shall be considered. In making that decision, the Board shall have access to the written records of the case. Acceptable grounds for an appeal are limited to:

      1. Substantial new evidence.
      2. Procedural irregularities in the conduct of the hearing.
      3. Prejudicial bias in the Court or the Chair.
      4. Excessive sanction, only in cases of suspension or expulsion.

      The appellant, respondent, and Dean of Students shall be informed in writing of the decision.

      If the Board decides to consider the appeal, the Chair shall schedule another meeting for consideration and disposition of the appeal. The Board shall have access to the records of the hearing. Normally, the appellant, respondent, and Dean of Students shall not appear before the Board, though they may be summoned at the discretion of the Chair.


      The Appeals Board may decide:

      1. To uphold the original decision.
      2. To remand the case to the appropriate court for rehearing. This shall normally be done when the appeal introduces substantial new evidence that was not available at the time of the original decision, or when there is a procedural irregularity that could be corrected in a rehearing.
      3. To remand the case to the appropriate court of to the Dean of Students with a recommendation that the penalty be modified, together with an explanation of why the original penalty is deemed inappropriate.
      4. To modify the decision and/or the penalty. This will be done only in extraordinary cases when, in the considered opinion of the Appeal Board, prejudicial bias or procedural problems would make it impossible for the appropriate court to reach a fair decision.

      The appellant, respondent, and the Dean of Students shall be informed in writing of the decision and of the grounds for the decision.

    4. Records

      The record of the appeal shall consist of the letter of appeal, the written statements from the respondent and the Dean of Students, the written decision whether to hear the appeal, and the outcome of the appeal. This record shall be appended to the written record of the original disciplinary action and shall be kept with it.

      The Appeals Board shall make a brief account of its decision public. Names shall not appear.

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  5. Perjury

    All members of the Hamilton community are expected to be truthful in presenting testimony during any disciplinary inquiry and to cooperate fully in the investigation of infractions. Participants in disciplinary hearings shall be reminded of this expectation by the Chair, but failure to admonish does not remove the requirement. Perjury or obstruction of any inquiry shall itself be grounds for disciplinary action.

  6. Parents

    In serious disciplinary cases where the penalty may be separation from the College, the Dean of Students may, at his or her discretion and after informing the student of his or her intention to do so, notify the student's parents or guardian in advance of the hearing. In all cases where the penalty assigned is removal from a course, probation, or expulsion, the Dean of Students shall notify the parents or guardian within one week of the decision and shall send a copy of the notification to the student.

    These provisions do not apply if the student is financially independent of his or her parents and has a separate domicile.

Contact Information

Human Resources

Philip Spencer House
College Hill Road
Clinton, NY 13323
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