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Princeton student explains why Honor Code is inherently unfair to first-gen low-income students

My husband and I have kids, so, naturally, every so often, we speculate on where they might go to college. And every time we do, it feels like there’s at least one more that needs to be crossed off the list. Seriously, it’s ridiculous. College used to be about higher education, but these days it seems like it’s more and more about miseducation. And it was already kind of a mess back when I was in college.

Anyway, it looks like at the rate all this is going, Princeton will ultimately need to get crossed off the list, too. At least if it becomes a hotbed of students like Emilly Santos.

You’ve probably never heard of Emilly, but you should definitely know who she is. Because there are students like her in colleges all over the country, and that’s downright depressing. Emilly is the author of an opinion piece for The Daily Princetonian all about how the university’s Honor Code is bad for first-generation, low-income students, who are apparently incapable of resisting the urge to cheat and succeeding on their own merits:

More from Santos:

Previous reporting on the Honor Code has shown the negative effects of the Honor Code process on FLI students. There can be financial, social, and academic repercussions. When caught up in the Honor Code system, FLI students may not have the institutional knowledge on how to navigate such a process in the same way their white and wealthier counterparts might.

The severe punishments, ranging from a reprimand to expulsion, meted out to students accused of Honor Code violations negatively affect all students, but are especially harmful to FLI students. One common punishment for violating the Honor Code is suspension from school for a semester or more. However, the subset of suspended students who have to repeat semesters because of disciplinary action are not eligible for financial aid during their repeated term. This contingency makes the Honor Code a monumental threat to FLI students, who, without financial aid, would find themselves thousands of dollars in debt as a result of student loans, which are suggested as an alternative way of funding study at Princeton. These effects of the Honor Code can have devastating impacts on FLI students — students who rely on a Princeton education for the chance of upward mobility but instead find themselves deep in debt.

FLI students, like many students, are often afraid of disappointing family and friends. A lack of community support in these situations also puts FLI students at a disadvantage compared to their wealthier peers, whose communities often include people who are college-educated and have been exposed to academic integrity systems similar to Princeton’s Honor Code, and may understand the process better.

TL;DR version: FLI students need to be able to cheat without academic consequences because structural racism.

Maybe one real-world change Emilly could make is withdrawing from Princeton in protest and being replaced by someone whose moral compass hasn’t been completely warped by social justice ideology.

You mean Kevin Kruse, the Princeton history professor and plagiarist? Yeah, I could definitely see that. Emilly Santos sounds like she learned everything she knows about credibility from Kevin Kruse.


Anyway, the best way to help FLI students — or any students — avoid violating the Honor Code is to explain it to them clearly and inform them that if they pledge to abide by said code, they’ll be expected to abide by said code. It’s crazy, I know. But it’s so crazy, it might just work.

And let’s face it: Honor Codes aren’t just problems for FLI students. Case in point:

*Chef’s kiss*


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