1958: The Honor System

Harvey Mudd College has had an Honor Code since the first academic year, although in the early years it was referred to as "The Honor System." In January of 1958, a provisional Honor Code was submitted so that a system would be in place before term exams, "because of the Council's belief that an adequate document could not be prepared in time." (ASHMC Minutes, Jan 28, 1958) The earliest completed version of the Honor System in the archive is in a ballot distributed to the students of Harvey Mudd College on June 3, 1958. Interestingly, there is no explicit mention made that the faculty had to approve the Honor System at this time. However, the top of the cover letter states, "Here is our Constitution as revised in student meetings and proof-read by Drs. Jordan, Campbell, and Davenport."

The Honor Code has always been an important part of the ASHMC Constitution. Although there is no mention of this in the Constitution itself, the cover letter states that

The Honor System (Articles V and VI) must be voted on separately because it requires a 3/4 majority for adoption while the remainder of the Constitution may be adopted by a 2/3 majority vote.

It is also interesting to note that the election procedure followed in 1958 differs significantly from the election procedures we now follow. In this election, students had until the next day, June 4, to complete the ballot and drop it in the ballot box in the mail room. In current elections, members of ASHMC Council sit in the back of Platt Campus Center collecting ballots at meals.

The initial version of The Honor System differs enough from the current version of the Honor Code that I shall include it here. Unfortunately, the ballot included in the files has no mention of whether or not the Constitution or the Honor System were adopted.



Section 1. The Honor System shall be the fundamental principle of conduct for members of the ASHMC. It shall apply to all academic matters and to the safety of private property on campus.

Section 2. Any member of the Student Body or the faculty observing a violation of the Honor System shall report the violation to a member of the Student Court or shall talk with the offender regarding the violation. If the second alternative is followed, a report shall be submitted to the Student Court withholding the name of the offender and stating the offense and subsequent action.



Section 1. The Student Court shall consist of eight members: the ASHMC Vice-President, a Court Recorder, and six elected members - two representatives from each of the junior and senior classes and one representative from each of the freshman and sophomore classes. Until the academic year 1960-1961 there shall be only four elected court members. During 1958-1959 there shall be two representatives from each of the Freshman and Sophomore classes. During the year 1959-60 there shall be two Junior class representatives and one representative from each of the Freshman and Sophomore classes.

Section 2. Duties of the members:

  1. The ASHMC Vice-President shall act as a non-voting chairman. He shall investigate charges and present his findings to the Student Court.
  2. The Court Recorder shall be a non-voting member and shall record all proceedings. He shall be appointed by the chairman with the approval of the court.
  3. The class representatives shall have sole voting power when considering cases.

Section 3. The Student Court shall:

  1. Judge all violations of the Honor System.
  2. Act as court of appeals on all matters referred to it by the Dormitory Council.
  3. Instruct the Student Body and Administration in the values and operation of the Honor System.

Section 4. All members must be present for any official action and unanimous agreement of the voting members shall be required for conviction. Penalties, subject to the approval of the Dean of Student Counseling, may be set by a majority vote of the court members. All court proceedings concerning Honor System violations shall be kept secret.

1958: How is it different from today?

The operating procedures of this original "Student Court" and the current student judicial system vary considerably, in at least the following ways:

  • The Honor Code has become more clearly defined, and the student judicial system now addresses more broad concerns,
  • The procedure for reporting violations has been modified,
  • The members of the board are significantly different (we don't even have an ASHMC Vice-President any more...),
  • Two new boards have been created: the Appeals Board and the Disciplinary Board,
  • Guidelines for hearings have been outlined in the Standards of Student Conduct (found in the Student Handbook)
  • Conviction now only requires a 3/4 majority rather than a unanimous agreement of the voting members.

Changes to the judicial system continue as this document is being prepared. The current ASHMC Council is debating amendments to the Constitution that will include a clause that makes trials open by default rather than closed and secret.

1959: Amendments to the Honor System

The first amendments to the Honor System was proposed on Mar 12, 1959 (ASHMC Minutes, Mar 12, 1959). It is interesting to note that ratification of these amendments only required a 2/3 majority, not the 3/4 necessary for the Honor System to be approved in the first place.

The two proposed changes to the Honor System include the following:

Article VI, Section 3: Add- (d) have jurisdiction in cases of student misconduct brought to the attention of the chairman by members of the Student Court, faculty, or administration. This jurisdiction shall be limited to intercollegiate relations, college sponsored functions, and incidents on the Associated Colleges campus.

Article VI. (add) Section 5: By a joint decision, the ASHMC President and the chairman of the Student Court shall have the authority to immediately suspend any student in a case of gross misconduct. Any such suspension will be subject to review by the Student Court and the Dean of Student Counseling at the earliest possible date.

The ballot from the ASHMC Archives actually has some of the yes and no boxes checked off, most likely indicating which amendments were passed. The first amendment is marked "yes." This particular amendment restricts the jurisdiction of the Student Court system to incidents relating somehow to the college.

The next amendment is marked "no." This is probably a good thing; it would have allowed a pair of students to have authority over suspending other students. Presumably, if such gross conduct ever did occur, the Dean of Students office would suspend the student immediately anyways and thus bear the burden of responsibility.


In 1960, the ASHMC Secretary submitted a report on the amendments that had been passed during Fall semester, 1959-60. Of the three amendments, two of them deal with the Student Court.

Article VI, Section IV. If charges are brought against any member of the Student Court, he shall be suspended from the Student Court for the duration of his trial.

Article VI, Section IV. During a hearing the accused shall have access to a record of all testimony given with all names withheld.

These amendments reflect what current practice is today. There are now more complete rules detailing when a member of the Honor Board can be disqualified for a case, but any member brought to trial will not be allowed to sit on the case. Additionally, current practice requires that the defendant receive a packet detailing all of the evidence uncovered during the investigative phase of an Honor Code trial.

Later, in the fall of 1960, ASHMC Council formed a committee to investigate the workings of the Student Court (ASHMC Minutes, Nov 21, 1960). This committee evidently gave rise to some amendments of the Honor System; unfortunately, none of them are evident in the archive.

1961-1962: The Judiciary Board

It appears that some time in 1961, a new article was appended to the Constitution detailing the duties of the officers. This article was moved earlier in the Constitution, thus renumbering the articles dealing with the Judicial System. This, in addition to the amendments passed by the 1960 committee, mean that the Constitution had changed substantially during this time.

The amendment of Thursday, November 1, 1962, reads as follows:

Replace ARTICLE VII, Section I, with: Section I. The Judiciary Board shall consist of eight members: the ASHMC Vice-President, a recording secretary, and six elected members. The six elected members shall be elected and take office at the same time as the ASHMC officers. Two shall be from the Freshman Class, two from the Sophomore Class, and two from the Junior Class. These six elected members shall serve for one year.

ARTICLE VII, Section 5. Add after first sentence: The class officers shall replace the members of the Judiciary Board when the members of the Judiciary Board are unable to attend, in the following order: President, Secretary-Treasurer, Social Chairman. Failure for any member of the Court to attend Court meetings without a valid excuse shall be considered contempt of court. It is up to the Court to decide whether the excuse is valid.

This amendment passed with a vote of 149 for, 42 against. This is the first mention seen in the archive of the "Judiciary Board," the term that is still in common usage today.

The second clause of this amendment is interesting. Unlike just about any other version of the Honor Code, there is a clear delineation of who becomes a member of the Judiciary Board when a member is disqualified for some reason.

1964: The two court system

The next year that we see a complete Constitution in the Archive is 1964. (In March 11, 1963, the ASHMC minutes mention a petition filed by a number of students calling for a new constitution. It appears that the ASHMC Council sat on it for a year, and the next year's Council re-wrote the constitution during Spring Semester of 1964, and got it approved by the student body in the Fall of 1964.) In this document, we can see that the Honor Code has been developed more fully:

Sec. 1. The Honor Code

A. Each member of ASHMC shall be responsible for his integrity in all matters related to academics and personal property. The personal property clause affects only personal property on campus or that involved in a school sponsored function.

In addition to the Constitution in the archive is a list of proposed changes to the Constitution, which adds the personal property clause, gives each member of the board except the chair one vote, and outlines rules for when a board member is unable to attend a meeting.

This is also the first time that we see a system of two courts. At this point, there was a Judiciary Board and a Student Court. Section 2C states that the Judiciary Board Chairman, Student Court Chairman, and the Dean of Students decided the jurisdiction between the two courts. It appears that the two-court system was first proposed in 1961, and passed a student referendum on May 1 of that year (ASHMC Council Minutes, Mar 20, 1961).

Further, in sections 3 and 4, we see how the jurisdiction was to be decided. The Judiciary Board judged:

  • All Honor Code violations.
  • All violations of College Regulations.
  • Cases referred to it by Student Court.
  • All reviews of Student Court decisions at the request of a defendant.
  • All cases of perjury before either court.
On the other hand, the Student Court was to:
  • Judge all violations of ASHMC regulations.
  • Judge all violations of dormitory regulations.
  • Have the power to initiate action appropriate to the maintenance of order in a dormitory.

It seems clear that the Judiciary Board was intended to hear the more serious cases. The Judiciary Board also served as an appeals board for the lower Student Court, which only heard cases relating to student-created regulations. The minutes from ASHMC Council in 1961 refer to the Judiciary Board as being inundated with cases related to dormitory fines. It is also interesting to note that while a three-fifths vote was required for conviction in the Student Court, unanimous vote was required for a conviction in the Judiciary Board.

The members of Judiciary Board were elected according to the same kinds of rules as we have seen before (and are currently in practice): two members from each class. On the other hand, the Student Court members were dorm-elected positions. Article VI, section 2 also allowed for the each dorm to be responsible for "enforcement of the Dormitory Regulations and any other rules that it may establish."

1965: Faculty views of the Honor Code

On Novermber 11, 1965, the Student-Faculty Committee submitted a proposed Constitutional amendment to ASHMC council. The proposal included a restatement of the Honor Code, a section on the Honor System that appears to be intended for the Student Handbook, and a call for more explicit regulations regarding violations and enforcement procedures.

It appears that this amendment did not pass; the new phrasing of the Honor Code does not appear in later Constitutions. However, later versions of the Constitution do have slightly different phrasings of the Honor Code. The 1965 proposal states the Honor Code as follows:

Article V

sec 1. The Honor Code

A. Each member of ASHMC shall be required to maintain the highest level of integrity in a manner befitting the high caliber of an HMC student in all matters related to academics, personal property and the academic facilities of the College.

The next part of the proposal, the part that appears analogous to what is currently in the Student Handbook, explicitly states what violates each of these three areas. The fact that this proposal comes from the Student-Faculty Committee is not surprising; similar conversations occur to this day between faculty and students. Some are unclear as to exactly what constitutes an Honor Code violation; others are unclear as to what kinds of punishments are assigned when violations occur.

1969: The Statement of Student Rights and Responsibilities

1969 is the first year for which we have a Statement of Student Rights and Responsibilities. It was approved by the Board of Trustees on September 23, 1969. This version doesn't mesh very well with the Honor System as outlined in the Constitution, but in several places mentions the "appropriate body"-which is, according to a marginal note, the "J.B." This is also the first mention of the Appeal Board, which is outlined better in the 1971 Constitution.

1971: The Appeals Board

There aren't any Constitutions between 1964 and 1971 in the ASHMC Archive, so it's difficult to tell when the Appeals Board was created. It is clear that a major rearrangement occurred sometime before 1971, because the judicial system changed significantly during that period.

The statement of the Honor Code didn't change since the 1964 Constitution, but the rest of the section outlining the Judicial System was completely rewritten. There was still a two-court system in effect, but the two courts are the Judiciary Board and the Appeal Board. The jurisdiction of the older courts was consolidated, so the Judiciary Board had jurisdiction over everything in the student judicial system. The Appeal Board was to "concern itself solely with possible procedural errors in the Judiciary Board's handling of the appealed case." At this time, the Appeal Board needed a unanimous vote to find the defendant guilty or revise penalties, but could find the defendant not guilty or refer the matter back to the Judiciary Board with a majority vote.

This version of the Constitution also refers to the Statement on Student Rights and Responsibilities, saying that it "shall be used to establish procedures beyond those listed here." This is the first reference to an external document for disciplinary procedure; this practice has continued to the present day.


There are very few differences between the Constitution in 1971 and 1972. The only difference in the section on the Judicial System was that in 1971, the Judiciary Board needed a majority vote to find a student not guilty and a unanimous vote to find a student guilty. In 1972, the clause requiring a majority vote to find the defendant not guilty was stricken.

1977: Clarifications

In the late 1970's it appears that the judicial system stabilized for a few years. The changes made during this period of time seem to be relatively minor, and intended to clarify rather than change the practice of the court.

The statement of the Honor Code in the 1977 Constitution changed slightly from that in 1972. The second sentence was rephrased so that instead of talking about the "personal property clause," it stated that the Honor Code applied "only to property on campus or involved in a function sponsored by ASHMC or the colleges."

In addition, the process for electing the Judiciary Board members and chair were clarified, even though the method of selection didn't change. The Judiciary Board was also explicitly given the power to levy fines in property cases and the power to levy academic penalties in academic cases. Throughout, references to the "Appeal Board" were changed to the "Appeals Board."

1984: The Disciplinary Board

From 1977 through 1983, there were no changes made to the Student Judicial System. However, in the spring of 1982, a case in which students set off acetylene bombs set off a series of events which led to ASHMC rethinking the Judicial System. In the aftermath of this, discussions were held that led to the creation of the Disciplinary Board in 1984. These events will be outlined in a later section of this report.

At this time, the section of the Constitution dealing with the specifics of the Judicial System was replaced by a section outlining the duties of the Judicial Board Chair and the Disciplinary Board Chair. The JB chair was to arrange with the faculty to meet and discuss the Honor Code and the judicial system, and present to the entire faculty the community's views every year. The JB and DB chairs were to give a presentation to the incoming freshmen during Orientation. The rest of the JB chair's duties were outlined in the "Honor System," while the DB chair's duties were outlined in the "Judicial System." These titles refer to sections in the Statement of Student Rights and Responsibilities in the student handbook. This phrasing continues to be used in the current version of the ASHMC Constitution. The changes were approved in an ASHMC election in the spring of 1984, and approved by the faculty in the fall of 1984.


The ASHMC Archive currently has no Constitutions more recent than the 1987 printout. Between 1987 and 1996 (the next copy of the Constitution I had available to me, from the 1996-1997 Student Handbook), there were few amendments to the section of the Constitution outlining the Student Judicial System. A new section was added describing the Disciplinary Code. This section parallels the section describing the Honor Code, and tells where to report violations of the Disciplinary Code.

1990: Further clarifications

At this point, any further changes to the Judicial System were changes to the Statement of Student Rights and Responsibilities. Since the ASHMC Archive currently does not have copies of all of the old handbooks (where the Statement of Student Rights and Responsibilities is published), it is difficult to determine if we have a complete discussion of the evolution of the judicial system during the past decade and a half.

In 1990, ASHMC Council came up with a set of additions to the Standards of Student Conduct outlined in the Student Handbook. At this time, constitutional amendments were made to change the composition of the Judiciary Board. The other changes being considered in 1990 included a proposal to introduce two classes of academic offenses (analogous to the difference between felonies and misdemeanors in the US Justice System), and a proposal to introduce minimum penalties for academic offenses.

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