One of the most prized and well-known aspects of Elizabethtown College is its commitment to integrity. When first-year students arrive and participate in the induction ceremony, they sign the Integrity Pledge, agreeing to uphold it for the duration of time they are here at the College. This pledge is a long-standing tradition at the College, and it is extremely important that each student takes it seriously, for violating the pledge could truly jeopardize their future.
The College’s Pledge of Integrity was adopted in 1995 by students, staff and faculty of the school collectively. The pledge, as written in the student handbook, reads, “Elizabethtown College is a community engaged in a living and learning experience, the foundation of which is mutual trust and respect. Therefore, we will strive to behave toward one another with civility and with respect for the rights of others, and we promise to represent as our work only that which is indeed our own, refraining from all forms of lying, plagiarizing and cheating.”
The Integrity Committee on campus, along with co-chairs and seniors Dan Silver and Erin Johnson and faculty advisor Dr. Louis Martin, are making it a point to speak to each First-Year Seminar (FYS). During these sessions, they are giving first-year students helpful advice and tips on ways to avoid plagiarism and the importance of being honest and upholding the pledge. These initiatives are in place to help promote campus-wide understanding of the pledge and to encourage others to uphold it as well.
Johnson explained that in these sessions, members of the committee will be going over academic aspects of integrity. “We will be talking about ways to avoid cheating through adequate test preparation and ways to avoid plagiarism through proper paraphrasing techniques. We will also be answering any questions that first-years have about integrity,” Johnson said.
First-year Corey Aspril believes that the pledge is not only applicable to academics, but to social situations as well. “I think it’s good for the College to have the pledge because it teaches students self-control and honesty and helps them in the process of becoming more mature as they continue through college life and beyond,” Aspril expressed.
Although the committee is strictly covering academic integrity in these presentations, Johnson agrees that the pledge can be carried through and seen in a variety of aspects of campus life and way members of the campus community interact.
“Integrity is important in building strong relationships. These relationships can be with friends, professors or colleagues. As the pledge states the basis of these relationships is mutual trust and respect,” Johnson explained. “If you have integrity, that will lead people to trust you and to respect the decisions you make. They can trust that what you do is not a selfish decision but one that has considered all people involved. What kind of world would we live in if no one had integrity? Who could you trust?”
The committee has high hopes that the first-years will get the most out of these presentations with regards to their futures. The committee plans to hand out valuable resources for test preparation and paper writing. Along with these papers, there will be online resources provided to assist in additional paper writing. These online resources explain proper paraphrasing techniques in a clear, concise manner. There are also hopes that, through these presentations and open discussions, students will have a better idea of how the pledge can be seen in all aspects of life, and that they will carry these ideas with them through life beyond college and into the real world.
First-year Austin Whitlock could not be happier that the committee is coming to speak to his FYS and that the College has a pledge such as this one in place for all students to follow. “The pledge of integrity is a good thing because it makes students take a step back and think about if what they are doing is of good moral judgment, whether it be in the classroom or outside of the classroom,” Whitlock elaborated.
Overall, it is the hope of the committee and the College community that the students will take many important and helpful tips and ideas from the presentations and that any lingering questions about the pledge will be answered. Open discussion about the pledge is encouraged, and having this initiative in place is one large step in assuring that students come to Etown the same way they leave: upholding integrity, honesty, civility and respect toward one another and themselves.