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honor council logoConstitution of the Honor System

The Honor System encompasses the student body, the Honor Council, and the Honor Code to form an essential part of the academic program at Colorado College. Its purpose is to help recognize each student’s maturity and individual ability. Accordingly, the Honor System provides an atmosphere of mutual trust that contributes to students’ personal growth and academic development. The spirit of this constitution and the principles it embodies are intended to provide a foundation for a personal ethical code that will continue long after graduation from Colorado College.

Every Colorado College student is responsible for obtaining a working knowledge of all rules and regulations of the Honor System and for understanding this constitution and other materials describing the Honor System. Also, the student is obliged to know how the principles apply in each class. Ignorance of the principles embodied in this constitution and of the way in which they apply in a particular class will be no excuse for a violation of the Honor System.

General Guidelines

THESE GENERAL GUIDELINES ARE ONLY A BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE HONOR SYSTEM. EVERY STUDENT IS EXPECTED TO BECOME FAMILIAR WITH THE DETAILS OF THE CONSTITUTION, WHICH FOLLOWS THESE GENERAL GUIDELINES.

  1. The Honor System applies to all work done for credit — exams, papers, laboratory reports, daily assignments, and any other assigned work. Unless the professor specifically states otherwise, work done on all tests and assignments shall be entirely the student’s own.
  2. In papers, direct quotations must be acknowledged by quotes and footnotes. Ideas or paraphrasing taken from outside sources (including course textbooks) must be properly acknowledged, unless the professor specifically states otherwise. In oral reports, verbal acknowledgment of sources is usually sufficient.
  3. Exams must be taken at the place and within the time limits designated by the professor. Except as otherwise stated in this constitution, each professor has the right to set such exam and term paper guidelines as the professor deems appropriate.
  4. A student’s work may not be submitted for simultaneous credit in two different classes without the explicit permission of both professors. Replications of one’s own earlier work may be submitted for subsequent credit only with the explicit permission of the professor to whom the work is now being submitted.
  5. An attempt to violate the Honor System, which is not completed because the student is observed in the attempt, will be considered a full violation.
  6. A student or professor reporting a suspected violation will remain anonymous to everyone except the Honor Council. If the case is appealed, the identity of the accuser will also be revealed to an appeal board consisting of five (5) randomly selected students pledged to confidentiality.


Article I — Scope of the Honor System

• Section 1. The Honor System shall apply to all students registered for credit at Colorado College.

• Section 2. The Honor System shall apply to all written and oral examinations, reports, term papers, theses, and all other work done for credit. Unless explicitly permitted by the professor, unacknowledged outside help from any source, including course textbooks or a repetition of one’s own prior work, will be regarded as a violation of the Honor System. All sources used in writing a paper must be appropriately acknowledged and footnoted.

• Section 3. Violations of the Honor System include, but are not limited to, the following:

(a) any unauthorized aid given or received during an examination or in the preparation of a paper (i.e., copying from others, using notes or books when their use has been prohibited or obtaining help from a student who previously took the course);
(b) failure to comply with examination guidelines; (c) failure to properly acknowledge any source relied on in the writing of a paper, thesis or other course work;
(d) interfering with other students’ ability to complete their course work (i.e., denying them access to materials);
(e) lying for the purpose of obtaining an extension of time from the professor;
(f) attempting to violate the Honor System, but not succeeding because one is observed in the attempt; and
(g) breach of confidentiality by an Honor Council member of information obtained through an Honor Council proceeding.

• Section 4. Upon completion of all written work, a statement similar to the following shall be written out and signed by the student: “On my honor, I have neither given nor accepted unauthorized aid on this examination (paper, report, etc.).” Failure to sign such a statement shall not relieve the student from the responsibility to comply with the Honor System.

• Section 5. All examinations shall be given by the professor in accordance with the provisions of this constitution and in such a manner as to promote the Honor System.

• Section 6. The professor shall designate the amount of time allotted for each examination. A student’s failure to adhere strictly to such a time allotment, without specific permission of the professor, shall constitute a violation of the Honor System.

• Section 7. There shall be no limitation as to where examinations may be taken except as specified by the professor.

• Section 8. Aside from the fixed principles enumerated in this constitution, each professor shall clearly explain exactly how the Honor System applies to a particular course. If the professor does not do so, it shall be the students’ responsibility to request such information.

• Section 9. Any student or professor who suspects a violation of the Honor System shall report it to the Honor Council. Guilt shall be determined under the provisions of this constitution before any sanctions, academic or otherwise, shall be invoked against the accused.

Article II — Honor Council

• Section 1. There shall be an Honor Council, consisting of Colorado College students, which shall have the following functions:

(a) It shall interpret the principles and policies of the Honor System, in accordance with this constitution.
(b) It shall hear and take action on all cases arising from alleged infractions of the Honor System.

• Section 2. The Honor Council shall consist of a minimum of twenty students and will accept enough students to replace the vacancies left by graduating and/or resigning members as appropriate each year, up to a maximum of 46 members. If there are not enough qualified candidates, then the council will only take as many qualified applicants to meet the status quo.

(a) Members of the Honor Council shall be selected in the following manner: The Honor Council shall announce that it will accept nominations from the college community Any student is eligible to be nominated by any member of the college community (including him/herself). Each nominee shall submit an application and two letters of recommendation to the council co-chairs. One of the letters must be written by another CC student and the other will be written by either a faculty member, staff member or administrator. The Council shall accept the nominations of all applicants that complete and return the requisite materials. Honor Council members will schedule and execute interviews for all candidates. Council members shall utilize a standardized rubric to score applicants during the interview process. The interview shall be the basis for the final selection of members by the Honor Council.
(b) The term of office for members of the Honor Council shall be until a member resigns or is removed from the Honor Council, or graduates from Colorado College.
(c) The Honor Council shall have the authority to fill vacancies as they occur between election periods. Such vacancies shall be filled by selecting members from the candidates chosen during the last open election.

• Section 3. A member of the Honor Council may be removed by a three-quarters (3/4) vote of the members, after being told the cause for removal and given an opportunity to be heard. Causes for removal shall be (a) a breach of confidentiality regarding any matter concerning the Honor Council, (b) a conviction for a violation of the Honor System, and (c) a serious failure to carry out the responsibilities of a member of the Honor Council.

• Section 4. The Honor Council shall elect from among its members a chairperson or co-chairpersons, whose duties shall include presiding at all meetings and hearings. Unless otherwise specifically required by this constitution, a simple majority of the members of the Honor Council shall constitute a quorum for purposes of a meeting.

• Section 5. The Honor Council shall designate from among its members an investigator or investigators for each academic block during the regular academic year. Duties of designated investigators shall include investigation and documentation of alleged Honor System violations, recording of proceedings before the Honor Council, and drafting of official Honor Council correspondence.

• Section 6. The names of the accused and accuser, and the evidence in connection with the case, shall not be revealed by members of the Honor Council, witnesses or members of the appeal board to anyone except the professor involved and the faculty advisor of the Honor Council.

• Section 7. One member of the faculty shall be appointed by the Honor Council to serve as a non-voting advisor to the Honor Council for a renewable one-year term. The faculty advisor shall be advised of all actions taken by the Honor Council.

• Section 8. A group of five non-student staff members from the college shall be appointed by the Honor Council to act as non-voting observers during trials. These members will be trained by the faculty advisor in regards to trial procedure and will report directly to the faculty advisor after any trial procedure.

• Section 9. The Honor Council shall have the right to adopt bylaws that shall not infringe upon or contradict this constitution. A vote of three-quarters (3/4) of the members of the Honor Council shall be necessary to adopt or amend a bylaw.

• Section 10. Guidelines of operating procedures and other helpful advice shall be passed along as suggestions from one Honor Council to the next, but shall not be binding upon the next Honor Council.

Article III — Violation Procedures

• Section 1. The procedures for dealing with a student suspected of a violation of the Honor System shall be as follows:

(a) Any student or faculty member who observes a suspected violation shall notify a member of the Honor Council, preferably within one week of the incident. The member notified shall, in turn, notify the council chairperson and the designated investigator for that block. The investigator, in consultation with the Honor Council chairperson, shall conduct the investigation and shall decide if sufficient evidence exists to accuse the suspected student. If an accusation is made, the accused shall be notified as outlined in this Article III, Section 1, Paragraph (b). The investigating member and the chairperson shall also submit a report of the suspected violation to the full Honor Council.
(b) The accused student shall be notified of the nature of the charge in a letter delivered in person by the investigating member of the Honor Council. At the time of delivery, the accused shall sign a statement acknowledging receipt in writing of the charge. Within 48 hours (excluding intervening block breaks or vacations) of delivery of the charge, the accused shall notify the investigating member of the Honor Council whether the plea to the charge will be guilty or not guilty. If the accused has failed to enter a plea within the required time period, the investigating member shall contact the accused and request a plea. If at this time the accused fails to enter a plea or pleads guilty, a violation shall be recorded against the accused who shall be notified of that action. If the accused pleads not guilty, the investigating member, in consultation with the accused, the accuser, and the Honor Council shall set a time for the hearing of the case by the Honor Council. The investigating member shall notify the accused and the accuser and request their presence at the hearing.

• Section 2. Hearings concerning first or second violations shall proceed as follows:

(a) Seven (7) voting members of the Honor Council and one non-voting observer from the college staff shall be present. When the accused first appears before the Honor Council, the charge(s) shall be read and the rights of the accused under this constitution shall be explained. Any of the three parties — the person accused, the accuser, or the Honor Council — may present witnesses. The accused may call two (2) character witnesses to speak on his/her behalf. The non-voting staff member will serve as an impartial observer of the trial procedures and may contribute in discussing the verdict. A simple majority vote of the Honor Council members present at any hearing shall be required for a verdict of guilty.
(b) It is the practice of the Honor Council to consider any person accused of an Honor System violation innocent until determined guilty by clear and convincing evidence.
(c) The accused shall have the right to counsel. Any member of the faculty, administration, or student body may serve as counsel, with the exception of members of the Honor Council, who may not serve. Counsel must agree to operate within the procedural framework of the Honor Council as outlined in this constitution. Counsel may give advice but may not speak in place of the accused at the hearing.
(d) All witnesses and the accused shall take an oath of honesty before testifying. Perjury shall constitute a violation of the Honor System. If the council has evidence suggesting that a witness or the accused has committed perjury after taking this oath, the witness or accused shall then be subject to the procedures outlined in this Article III for the Honor System violation of perjury. Both witnesses and the accused may decline to answer specific questions on the grounds of self-incrimination. Such a refusal, by a witness or the accused, in the absence of other evidence, shall not serve as grounds for initiation of Honor Council proceedings against the witness, or for a guilty verdict against the accused.
(e) A refusal to appear before the Honor Council shall be considered a violation of the Honor System. However, once under oath, a witness or the accused may decline to answer any question on the grounds of self-incrimination. Such a refusal shall not, in the absence of other evidence, serve as grounds for the initiation of proceedings by the Honor Council against the witness.
(f) A student shall be found guilty of a violation of the Honor System only on the basis of clear and convincing evidence.
(g) Accurate records shall be kept of the hearing. The Honor Council shall make a tape recording of the entire hearing, including the date and members present, testimony of all witnesses, a summary of the major points which determined the verdict, and the verdict. In the event the accused is found not guilty of the alleged violation, all records identifying the accused shall be destroyed.

• Section 3. The following action shall be taken by the Honor Council on the first violation:

(a) If the Honor Council finds that the accused violated the Honor System, then it will recommend to the professor(s) a grade of No Credit for the course in which the violation occurred. A lesser penalty may be considered where there is evidence that the student inadvertently violated the Honor System. The Honor Council shall only take such action when a unanimous vote of the Honor Council members hearing the case determines the violation to be inadvertent. In such cases, the hearing panel will invite the professor(s) to discuss all matters relevant to determining punishment before making its recommendation. In the case of a flagrant first violation, the Honor Council may recommend dismissal to the president of the college and proceed pursuant to Section 4(a) of this Article III. The Honor Council shall only take such action when a unanimous vote of the Honor Council members hearing the case determines the violation to be flagrant.
(b) All evidence with respect to a guilty verdict or a plea of guilty shall be kept on file by the Honor Council. All records of a violation shall be destroyed when the student graduates from Colorado College or six (6) years from the date of the verdict, whichever occurs sooner.

• Section 4. The following action shall be taken on a second violation: In the event that a guilty verdict is returned against the accused or a plea of guilty is entered by the accused, the Honor Council shall recommend dismissal to the president of the college, after first notifying the student and giving the student seventy-two (72) hours to request an appeal of the verdict. The president shall be provided with a summary of all pertinent facts regarding this case and the accused’s prior conviction, if any. The summary shall include the names of the accused, the accuser(s) and all witnesses, as well as the important circumstances surrounding all violation(s) of which the student was found guilty. The Honor Council may recommend to the president that the student be given the opportunity to be readmitted at the start of the semester beginning at least one year from the date of dismissal.

• Section 5. If a student is dismissed from Colorado College for a violation of the Honor System, the violation shall be noted in the student’s official files in the dean’s and registrar’s offices. Any transcript forwarded by the registrar’s office shall indicate that the student was dismissed for a violation of the Honor System. If a student is readmitted to Colorado College after dismissal for an Honor System violation, the student’s official files at the college shall not be purged of the notation regarding the violation, but any transcript forwarded by the registrar’s office shall be so purged. Any student readmitted to Colorado College after dismissal for an Honor System violation shall be considered to have had only one previous violation, and any further Honor System violations shall be deemed to be a second violation and shall be treated according to this Article III, Section 4.

• Section 6. When mass cheating is suspected in a class, separate accusations shall be filed against each student suspected. Each student shall then be subject to the procedures described in Article III of this constitution.

• Section 7. In the event of a guilty verdict, the Honor Council shall inform the accused of the verdict, including the general nature of the evidence or testimony against the accused. However, the accused shall not have the right to be informed of such specifics as shall disclose the identity of the accuser or other witnesses who testified before the Honor Council. The accused shall have the right to appeal a conviction for either a first or second violation of the Honor System.

• Section 8. If the investigation reveals evidence that suggests the violation could be flagrant, the investigating officers shall decide, in conjunction with the officers of the Honor Council, and in consultation with the faculty advisor, whether to add flagrancy to the charge. Flagrancy will be included in the charge only upon a unanimous vote by the Honor Council officers and investigating officers. If flagrancy is being sought based on the evidence revealed during the investigation, it must be stated in the accusation letter. If the accused pleads guilty to that accusation, the council will recommend dismissal to the president of the college. If the accused pleads not guilty to the accusation of a flagrant violation, the case will go to trial.

(a) Scope of Flagrancy - An Honor Code violation may be deemed flagrant if it includes one or more of the following:
(1) the exchange of money and/or payment for services;
(2) the downloading of materials from online essay distributors or mills;
(3) assignments where the majority of words are plagiarized from an outside source or sources;
(4) conspiracy of two or more students to give and/or receive unauthorized aid;
(5) the theft of physical property, including but not limited to: other students' notes, copies of the test, and professor's keys.
(6) Other grounds for flagrancy may be developed by the council during the course of an investigation.
(b) Accused Flagrancy - If the student was accused of a flagrant violation and found guilty of committing an Honor Code violation, a second vote is necessary to establish guilt of a flagrant Honor Code violation. If the student accused of a flagrant violation is found guilty of a flagrant violation the council will recommend to the president of the college to dismiss the student. This vote is also by secret ballot and requires a unanimous decision by the council members hearing the case.
(c) Discovered Flagrancy - If flagrancy becomes apparent in the trial but was not originally sought in the accusation letter, the trial panel may find, with a unanimous vote, that the violation constitutes a flagrant action. This determination relies on the introduction of evidence/testimony that was previously undiscovered during the investigation process. The trial panel should use caution when pursuing flagrancy where it was not expressly sought in the accusation letter.

Article IV — Appeals and Retrials

• Section 1. The procedure for an appeal of a guilty verdict resulting from a hearing of the Honor Council, pursuant to Article III of this constitution, shall be as follows:

(a) In the event a guilty verdict is returned on either a first or second violation, if the accused believes that a significant error that might have affected the outcome was committed by the Honor Council, the accused may appeal the conviction.
(b) All requests for an appeal shall be made within seventy-two (72) hours (excluding intervening block breaks or vacations) after the Honor Council has communicated its guilty verdict to the student, except in circumstances where new evidence becomes available later.
(c) A group of five (5) students, chosen randomly from the student body by the registrar, shall act as the appeal board. No member of the Honor Council or any individual involved in the hearing before the Honor Council shall serve on the appeal board. The appeal board shall designate a member of the faculty or administration occupying a disinterested position, and preferably with legal training, to preside over the appeal. The accused may, at any time during the process, terminate the appeal.
(d) All records pertaining to the guilty verdict shall be available to the appeal board, whose members shall be sworn to secrecy regarding the evidence and the identity of all witnesses. The faculty advisor of the Honor Council shall instruct the appeal board on its duties and responsibilities. The appeal board may request the reappearance of witnesses who testified before the Honor Council or the appearance of new witnesses who have pertinent information concerning the error that prompted the appeal. All witnesses shall testify under oath. The names of the members of the appeal board shall not be disclosed to the accused.
(e) A refusal to appear before the appeal board shall be considered a violation of the Honor System. However, once under oath, a witness or the accused may decline to answer any question on the grounds of self-incrimination. Such a refusal shall not, in the absence of other evidence, serve as grounds for the initiation of proceedings by the Honor Council against the witness.
(f) If a simple majority of the appeal board members determines that important evidence beneficial to the accused was not considered by the Honor Council or that some other procedural error was committed, the appeal board shall present its findings to the Honor Council and recommend a retrial. The written recommendation shall include a summary of the major points that were the basis of the recommendation, and a summary of any new testimony heard by the appeal board. The Honor Council shall grant a retrial on the basis of the appeal board’s recommendation. None of the Honor Council members present at the initial hearing shall participate in the retrial.
(g) The faculty member presiding over the appeal shall have no vote in the recommendations of the appeal board. The faculty member’s responsibilities shall be to rule on the admissibility of evidence and to exercise discretion as to what evidence is relevant and proper to the case. The presiding officer may instruct the appeal board concerning the weight to be attached to the evidence submitted and may question all parties for clarification purposes.

• Section 2. Retrials shall be conducted in the same manner as hearings before the Honor Council, except that

(a) nine (9) voting members of the Honor Council shall be present at any retrial,
(b) a seven out of nine (7/9) vote shall be required for a verdict of guilty, and
(c) no member of the Honor Council who was present at the accused’s original hearing shall participate in the retrial. The accused and all witnesses who appeared at the original hearing shall again be given the opportunity to testify. New witnesses who have pertinent information shall also have the opportunity to testify.

• Section 3. The same records shall be kept of retrial proceedings as of original hearings. In the event of a guilty verdict, the record of the retrial proceedings shall be kept together with the record of the original hearing before the Honor Council. In the event the accused is found not guilty at retrial, all records shall be destroyed.

• Section 4. There shall be no right of appeal after a retrial.

Article V — Amendment of this Constitution

• Section 1. This constitution shall be amended by two-thirds (2/3) of those voting in a general referendum of the student body.

• Section 2. Referenda shall be held for amendments approved by three-quarters (3/4) of the members of the Honor Council or for amendments presented to the Honor Council in the form of a petition signed by at least one hundred (100) students, whether or not the amendment carries the endorsement of the Honor Council.

• Section 3. The Honor Council reserves the right to correct any typographical errors or modify any provisions that do not change the meaning or substance of this constitution.

Article VI — Summer Session

• Section 1. The Honor Council shall establish appropriate procedures for the maintenance of the Honor System during the Summer Session.