Staff Editorial: Students must be held to equal standards of academic integrity

Freshmen are most frequently found in violation of the honor code, a fact many attribute to first-year students’ lack of familiarity with plagiarism regulations. Undergraduate Student Government is attempting to mitigate this disparity with legislation that would reduce the penalty freshmen face for academic dishonesty. These exceptions, however, compromise the integrity of the Honor Board and undermine the seriousness of such offenses.

Academic honesty needs to be a priority for all students from the moment they set foot in their first class at Tulane University. Stealing intellectual property is a serious offense. Proposed new regulations would make the consequences of plagiarism seem less severe. Such changes to academic standards give freshmen a cushion they do not need. Every student accepted to Tulane should be able to reflect on which ideas are theirs and which are not, and know when to give credit where credit is due.

If students anticipate only a slap on the wrist after such infringements, they will be less likely to take an active role in ensuring the integrity of their work. Even in the case of seemingly minor infringements, freshmen need to understand that such behavior will not be tolerated if they are to be held to the standards of university-level work.

Revisions of the code of conduct may be underway, but Tulane cannot compromise its expectations in adhering to the most fundamental rules of academic integrity.