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SCU Engineering News

A Matter of Honor

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Updating an outdated Honor Code instituted by School of Engineering students in 1962 is the task mechanical engineering student and Markkula Center for Applied Ethics Hackworth Fellow Kadee Mardula has set for herself in her senior year.

As a Hackworth Fellow, Kadee has taken on the challenge of promoting ethical reflection and reflective ethical action among her undergraduate peers. “I’d like to add ethical value to an engineering degree here at Santa Clara,” said Kadee; “cheating affects us all and diminishes the value of an SCU degree. We’re in this together at SCU, and an individual’s behavior reflects on us all.”

“The general consensus is that the current Honor Code, which was created by School of Engineering students in 1962, is not effective today—it is used only sporadically and doesn’t have the buy-in from faculty and students that is needed to make it effective,” Kadee continued. “I want to find out what’s wrong with the Code and what students and faculty members think about how we should go about fixing it. And I’d really like to see our Honor Code linked to other professional engineering societies’ codes so that students can view their behavior at SCU as a stepping stone to how they will conduct themselves in their professional careers.”

In launching this project, Kadee has been meeting with student engineering clubs, talking with engineering freshmen, and polling students and faculty to get their opinions about the current Code and how (or whether) it should be updated. Responses cover a wide range of opinions; some believe an Honor Code is unnecessary, others think it is fine as it is, but a number of respondents cite the need for clarity and specificity in an updated document. A common theme is the notion that Broncos need to be made aware of how cheating affects not only themselves, but everyone in the School and alumni, as well; they need help in seeing the bigger picture.

“This is a difficult project,” said David DeCosse, Director of Campus Ethics Programs for the Markkula Center; “The nature of the topic is challenging—it either invokes passion or disinterest, but Kadee is doing a great job bringing this to her peers and battling on.”

In the spring quarter, Kadee plans to draft a new Honor Code, incorporating aspects from the various engineering societies’ professional codes. Then she will solicit feedback on the updated version and how to implement it. “I really want to create a culture that gets behind the honor code,” she said; “I see this document as an expression of community and a way of making Santa Clara engineering students even more valuable to employers because they will have that secure ethical background.”

Kadee invites alumni involvement with this project; to offer your opinion, contact her at kmardula@scu.edu.

More on Hackworth Fellowships here.