“…correct models and standards are set lest the worst social and moral patterns become impressed upon and stand for all the students of the community. It is with this…point in mind that Kenyon affirms basic standards of behavior that cannot be disregarded with impunity.”
The introduction to the Kenyon College Student Handbook (adopted in 1964 and revised in 1972) describes the moral and social reasoning behind the regulations that are outlined in the proceeding pages. This redefines our rules as values, which carry more weight because “patterns of student attitudes and conduct have even more far-reaching implications…when one remembers that students determine the character of the entire community.” When individual students behave honorably, our community as a whole is honorable.
Moreover, and unlike the proposed Honor Code, the rules outlined in the Student Handbook are backed up by consequences for non-compliance, providing a mechanism for enforcing honorable moral and social behavior. Moral guidelines are not adhered to out of convenience, and it takes more than a pinky-swear to ensure compliance. It is in this Rousseau-ian sense of moral freedom that we check our raw self-interest by setting laws that reflect our values and coercing ourselves into adherence.
With this in mind, I would ask readers what value a consequence-free wink-and-nod at Kenyon’s values would add to our existing standards for honorable behavior. As we consider whether to add an non-binding Honor Code on top of our existing value structure, I would encourage all Kenyon students to read their Handbook and see if anything’s missing. If you, like me, forgot where you put your Student Handbook, you can check it out at the link below: