Honor Code and Community Responsibility

Guidelines for Community Responsibility  

The following statement was adopted by the Mount Holyoke College faculty in April 1973:

The quality of life in a college such as Mount Holyoke relies on the conscious choice of students, staff, faculty, and administrators to commit themselves to honest and active participation in the creation and preservation of the College community. The decision to form such a community of scholars confers upon its members the special rights and responsibilities that allow the College to function most effectively. The very act of choosing to become a member of the Mount Holyoke community implies a commitment to free inquiry, a search for understanding as central to the liberal arts education, and a willingness to share in the responsibility for maintaining an environment in which these goals may be attained. Should an individual fail to assume such responsibility incumbent upon them, the community itself, through its officially constituted bodies, must take action.

The privileges and responsibilities of the community must embrace both academic and social life at Mount Holyoke. Guidelines only suggest the scope of community responsibility; effective functioning of the College community rests ultimately on the personal integrity of each of its members. 

Being a member of this community is a privilege; sharing in the maintenance of this community is a responsibility. The Mount Holyoke College community believes in the necessity of maintaining an environment in which every individual may pursue the lifestyle of their choice. Toward this end, it is the community’s responsibility to protect individual rights, and it is the responsibility of every member of this community to respect the rights, opinions, beliefs, and feelings of others. Each member of the Mount Holyoke community is expected to treat all individuals with a common standard of decency. Discrimination by any member of the Mount Holyoke community will not be tolerated. 

Community members are drawn together by a common desire to further understanding of the world, each other, and ourselves. Every member is encouraged to explore the opportunities and challenges that this unique institution provides and is expected to share in the responsibility of maintaining an environment guided by mutual respect and understanding.

The Honor Code 

I will honor myself, my fellow students and Mount Holyoke College by acting responsibly, honestly and respectfully in both my words and deeds.

Upon matriculation, each student brings a wide variety of experiences, hopes and goals to Mount Holyoke College. These backgrounds create and continually shape communal goals and ideals. The honor code is the hallmark of life together at Mount Holyoke College. Simply stated, it means that each student is responsible for maintaining their own integrity and the integrity of the Mount Holyoke community. While broad in its applications, it provides a guideline for decision making that holds each student to principles of good conduct toward themselves and others.

While this code of honor allows for a significant degree of individual freedom, the definition of a general framework of values is necessary. In choosing to live by a social honor code, students agree to integrate the following standards into the College’s definition of personal honesty as outlined in the following interpretation of the code:

Responsibility: Though each student’s individual conception of responsibility is unique, the College trusts that every student will demonstrate ownership of their actions and will recognize the ways in which their actions affect their peers, the College, and the greater community. Each student maintains the ability to express themselves with integrity, which is crucial to the development of a community that is personally challenging, both intellectually and socially. 

Honesty: A sense of honesty is fostered by the individual’s ability to express themselves in a candid and forthright manner. 

Respect: Respecting themselves and others requires that every individual maintain the integrity of their own values, while acting in a way that is careful and considerate of others. In the College community, mutual respect can be obtained only by valuing free inquiry, respect for difference, and intellectual honesty.

The framework of the Mount Holyoke College Honor Code assumes adherence to the rules and regulations of the College, which are designed to promote intellectual and social pursuits and to ensure personal safety. In addition, the College protects and upholds civil rights, and is committed to an inclusive and diverse community. A Mount Holyoke student demonstrates their respect for individual freedom by conducting themselves with maturity and honor, and by showing due concern for the welfare of other members of the community.

Student Evaluation of Faculty Teaching

As the semester draws to a close, students are required to submit an online course evaluation for each of their courses. This requirement is a reflection of the importance the College places on students and faculty supplying each other with timely, thoughtful feedback. Students who do not submit their evaluations on time will be blocked from access to their degree audit, unofficial transcript and grades until they have submitted the overdue evaluations or, at minimum, until they record a “decline to evaluate” response.

Student Groups on Campus

All student groups are held to the policies and procedures outlined in the Student Handbook, similar to individual students. A student group and its officers and membership may be held collectively and individually responsible when violations of College policy, the honor code, and or community standards by the organization or its member(s): 

  • Take place at organization-sponsored or co-sponsored events, whether sponsorship is formal or tacit. 
  • Have received the consent or encouragement of the organization or of the organization’s leaders or officers. 
  • Were known or reasonably should have been known to the membership or its officers. 

Student groups will follow the same general student resolution and disciplinary processes. In any such action, individual determinations as to responsibility will be made and sanctions may be assigned collectively and individually and will be proportionate to the involvement of each individual and the organization.

Student groups will include but are not limited to recognized student organizations, student government, club sports, class boards, etc.

Social Media Guidelines

Social media is a great way for students to communicate, share thoughts and ideas, be social, and engage in productive and constructive dialogue. It can also be used in ways that cause harm and distress to others.  

While the College may not control websites, social media and other venues in which harassing communications are made, when such communications are reported to the College, it may engage in a variety of means to address and mitigate the effects and help connect students with law enforcement when appropriate.

Members of the community are encouraged to be good digital citizens and to refrain from online misconduct, such as feeding anonymous gossip sites, sharing inappropriate content social media, disrespecting privacy, or otherwise using the ease of transmission and/or anonymity of the internet or other technology to harm another member of the Mount Holyoke College community.

The Honor Code Council encourages you to be responsible and think before you post:

  • Consider how to make your discourse constructive and/or positive.  
  • When responding to posts, comment on the idea, not on the person. A good rule to follow: if you wouldn’t say it to them in person, don’t say it online.
  • Be inclusive in conversation, consider all viewpoints before you share (think who you are talking to). How can you make this a learning experience?
  • Think about your digital footprint and ask yourself ... 
    • What would you want your future employers to see?
    • How will you feel about this in 10 or 20 years?
  • Recognize that social media is a snapshot of someone and what they have chosen to share. There is always more to the person than to the profile. Don’t compare yourself to the snapshot you see.
  • Look at the privacy settings and consider who you want to be seeing what you post and share.
  • Social media never really goes away, even with the most private settings. Don’t put anything online that you wouldn’t want to be shared or associated with later.  Don’t rely on others to keep your information private.
  • Remember the honor code: I will honor myself, my fellow students, and Mount Holyoke College by acting responsibly, honestly and respectfully in both my words and deeds.
  • We are all part of an incredible community: Don’t use social media to tear others down, think about how you can lift them up.

If you have a concern about posts you have seen or feel that someone has violated the honor code with their post, you can notify the Honor Code Council.

Conflict Resolution Through Positive Confrontation

Differences of opinion, ideals and values are inevitable in a diverse community. The College encourages individuals to speak directly with the person(s) with whom they experience a conflict. Addressing conflict early and often can build a common understanding of behavior, establish clear expectations and boundaries, and preserve future interactions with the parties involved. 

No Contact Orders

No Contact Orders (NCOs) are directives to students by select campus administrators or their designees that restrict the contact and/or communication between or among designated parties. No Contact Orders are not considered to be disciplinary actions and do not become part of a student's conduct record. However, failure to abide by a No Contact Order may result in disciplinary action and could result in disciplinary sanctions and a conduct record.  

On a small campus, a No Contact Order could inadvertently prevent one or both parties from accessing educational opportunities, so such orders are not automatically granted when requested. The College will consider all facts and circumstances that may be relevant to whether a No Contact Order should be issued, including, but not limited to, the following factors:

  • There are allegations, threats or evidence of physical violence.
  • There are allegations, threats or evidence of emotional abuse or harassment.
  • There is a substantial risk of emotional harm from continued contact between the students.
  • The NCO is requested or agreed to in good faith by all students affected.
  • There are allegations of serious College policy violations.

All NCOs will be mutual. In other words, any student(s) on one side of an NCO is prohibited from contacting any student(s) on the other side of the NCO.

“Contact” includes, but is not limited to, direct or indirect communication in person, through others, by email, text messages, social media-based messages and postings, and other forms of communication.

Additional Protective Measures

When deemed necessary by the College, NCOs may include additional protective measures or other terms specific to the safety, well-being or other needs of students subject to the NCO. Any additional terms will be stated in writing in the NCO. Additional protective measures or other terms need not be reciprocal. They may include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Restricting a student from being in close proximity to another student.
  • Restricting a student’s access to certain campus locations, including where another student lives.
  • Restricting times and/or locations for use of College facilities.
  • Requiring that students not be enrolled in the same academic course(s).
  • Requiring that students not participate in the same cocurricular activities.

No Contact Orders do not guarantee that designated students will avoid sightings or passing interactions on campus or in the local community, and incidental contact will not be considered a violation of the No Contact Order. The College expects that all parties will be intentional and thoughtful in working to avoid contact.  

Interpersonal Conflicts

Students who have interpersonal conflicts that do not raise concerns for safety or potential policy violations will not be granted No Contact Orders. It is expected that students requesting NCOs do so in good faith. NCOs are issued at the College’s discretion and the College may decline to issue an NCO where it determines safety is not at risk.

Students with conflicts for which an NCO is not appropriate should pursue other forms of conflict resolution and may contact the Residential Life staff or Ombuds Office for assistance.  

No Contact Order Administrators

NCOs may be issued by the following Mount Holyoke College administrators or their designee:

  • Vice President of Student Life and Dean of Students
  • Associate Dean of Students and Director of Residential Life
  • Associate Dean of Students and Director of Student Involvement
  • Associate Dean of Students for Community and Inclusion
  • Associate Director of Residential Life
  • Residential Life Area Coordinators
  • Title IX Coordinator or Deputy Title IX Coordinator

No Contact Order Review

The College reviews No Contact Orders at the beginning of each academic semester. No Contact Orders may remain in effect until graduation or withdrawal of at least one of the designated students, unless the No Contact Order is modified or rescinded by the College in writing. A student seeking the modification or rescission of a No Contact Order shall make such a request to the administrator who issued the original No Contact Order. Students may request that contact restrictions be lifted after an appropriate sustained period of compliance. Such decisions will be made in consultation with the administrator who issued the No Contact Order. The class schedules of students with NCOs are checked before the start of each term to determine whether students have registered for the same classes. The issuing College Administrator will contact the involved students with any concerns.

When No Contact Orders are administered as an interim measure through the College’s Gender-based and Sexual Misconduct Policy, alleged violations will be resolved under that policy.

NCO Violations

Any violations of NCOs are subject to disciplinary action under the College’s policies. Retaliation is strictly prohibited. A violation of an NCO by a student who requested it may result in revocation of the NCO. If you believe someone has violated an NCO, please report it to the College Administrator who issued it. If at any point you feel your safety is in jeopardy, contact Public Safety & Service at 413-538-2304.

To request a No Contact Order, contact one of the campus administrators listed above.