BY CHLOE JENSEN '20
This past Friday, a Mount Holyoke student sent a video to alt-right conservative website, The College Fix. This video featured professor Rosnick urging his students to vote, and in doing so, consider the lives of minorities and women.
Although Rosnick mentioned no presidential candidate by name, the video sparked an uproar among many conservatives around the country. This resulted in hundreds of 1-star reviews on our college Facebook page. Although many current students and alumnae balanced the 1-star ratings with positive 5-star ratings, and the social media controversy that this issue caused has mostly blown over, in many ways, the issue is still very pertinent, especially regarding the Honor Code.
In explaining this conflict, it is important to note that Massachusetts “makes it a crime to secretly record a conversation, whether the conversation is in-person or taking place by telephone or another medium,” according to the Digital Media Law Project. But beyond the legal consequences, posting this video violated not only the Honor Code, but the Mount Holyoke community as well. It is clear that the student who uploaded the video to this alt-right website did so without the consent of Professor Rosnick or the Mount Holyoke community. While the student may have disagreed with professor Rosnik’s message, they should have taken the video with the consent of professor Rosnick. Such actions have dire consequences for not just classroom policy, but many of the procedures throughout the Mount Holyoke student body.
I remember signing the Honor Code on the eve of my first night of classes. The Honor Code was not an aspect of Mount Holyoke that I had thought a lot about in making my decision to attend, it just seemed like Mount Holyoke’s slightly sophisticated and serious way of expressing their views against academic and community dishonesty. However, Mount Holyoke’s Honor Code has a significant impact on its students, and in many ways, it shapes our community of trust.
Because everyone here has signed the Honor Code, it is not only expected but required that we maintain honesty and good intentions throughout our time at Mount Holyoke.
The Honor Code embeds a sense of trust in Mount Holyoke students, faculty, and staff alike; the students are responsible for upholding this code throughout their time at Mount Holyoke. For this reason, professors and staff immediately trust that we are not cheating on our exams or plagiarizing our papers. While studying here, I have never had to upload my papers to websites like Turnitin to ensure I was not plagiarizing, and I have had numerous opportunities to take my exams unproctored.
Furthermore, the Honor Code affects not only academic dishonesty, but in many ways, standards of community living. While studying in the library, I know that I can comfortably leave my laptop in an open space while using the restroom because I trust that no one will take it.
I do not feel the need to uphold this standard because someone is checking or forcing me to, or because of the disciplinary consequences that follow, but because I want to stay true to this community. To me, to break the Honor Code is not only to plagiarize a paper or steal a laptop, but to break a sense of trust established among the Mount Holyoke community as a whole.
This is why the professor Rosnick video upset me so much — not because of the influx of negative reviews on Facebook, or even that someone disagreed with his statement, but that a student would decide to violate the Honor Code. It may seem that this video did not directly affect me or any student studying here, but in many ways, it affected all of us. Professors may feel less inclined to confide in students regarding personal or controversial issues. And while professor Rosnick’s comments were arguably ill-timed and inappropriate, we can guarantee that many professors will think twice before making similar comments.
This controversy should serve as a reminder that the night before you began studying here, you signed an Honor Code in which you were expected to not only uphold the rules of said code, but of the community and yourself.