Monday, October 11, 2010


Is the educational program at Rollins intended and designed to be more than an instiller of knowledge of various kinds, an up-loader of information and an instructor of information processing, to the end that students acquire the data of history or literature or sociology or physics, for instance, and practice the respective methodologies of those disciplines?

Or is something more fundamentally developmental intended by the idea of a liberal education to which Rollins subscribes—something implied in the old-fashioned phrase, “a scholar and a gentleman”? Thus, not only intellectual development would be Rollins’ aim for its students, but also the inculcation of character, the character of gentility, generosity, kindness—which implies respecting the dignity of others and serving interests over and above personal ambition. This would be done by promoting the well-being of the wider community, both within the College and beyond, in the spirit of a plaque on campus that declares: "Life Is for Service."

Assuming this latter motive to be true for Rollins, then our current deliberations about instituting a Social Honor Code, complementary to the existing Academic Honor Code, speak to the issue of character development and reinforcement, of holding each other to standards of decency, dignity, and integrity. In the area of academic honesty, some specific behaviors are promoted and others prohibited with respect to following the standards of scholarship. Likewise, specific social behaviors would be prescribed and proscribed, some precisely and others more broadly.

But what concerns a Social Honor Code, rather than what explicit laws and rules may designate, is more the “spirit” than the “letter” of the law. The Code has more to do with attitude and intent than with explicit infractions entailing set penalties (which are matters for Campus Security and the Dean of Students to enforce and prosecute). The Code points instead toward the ideals of behavior that members of the College community subscribe to and strive to realize in their interactions with others. What sportsmanship is to athletics, over and above avoiding penalties called by referees, honor and integrity are to the College community at large.

These are standards not so much enforced as exhibited and are easier caught than taught. Therefore, it behooves those who work at the highest levels and those who have been at Rollins the longest to exemplify the Rollins Way of honor and integrity, of dignity and generosity, and of meeting high levels of performance appropriate to their spheres of work. Thus will the spirit of the Rollins Way pass down to new students and to other new members of this academic and social community, influencing them to live likewise.