Honor System FAQs

The Honor System at the College of Charleston has two parts – the Honor Code and the Code of Conduct. The system governs student academic and civic behavior. Continue reading below to understand more about the Honor System process and find the answers to commonly asked questions.


Where can I get more information on the Honor System?
The Student Handbook contains complete information on the Honor System at the College and is available online. 

Who addresses alleged violations?
Students who are alleged to have violated the Honor Code or Code of Conduct will receive outreach from the Office of the Dean of Students. Students who elect to have or are referred to a formal hearing for the allegation may appear before the Honor Board of the College of Charleston or a single administrator. Alleged violations that occur in on-campus residential spaces may also be addressed by the Department of Residence Life.

What is the Honor Board?
The Honor Board is a body of students, faculty, and staff of the College that hears cases involving alleged violations of both the Honor Code and the Code of Conduct. The Board conducts hearings, determines whether the alleged student has violated the Honor System, and issues sanctions. Formal hearings may take place before either a full Board (typically 3 students, 1 faculty, and 1 staff) or a single administrator.

What are the sanctions imposed for Honor System violations?
When considering consequences for student misconduct, the College focuses primarily on educating students about their behavior, but may impose sanctions up to and including suspension and expulsion in order to preserve a safe and healthy environment for the College community. Examples of educational sanctions may include substance abuse counseling or community service. Additional information regarding potential sanctions can be found in the Student Handbook, however, each situation is considered individually by our office. 

Can any student become a member of the Honor Board?
Yes. The Board must be representative of the student population of the College and accepts applications from all students regardless of major, year in college, gender, ethnicity, age, nationality or religion. However, there is a minimum GPA requirement (2.5), and all applicants will be interviewed. Additional information about the Honor Board is available on the Honor Board webpage.

What happens when a student is accused of violating the Honor Code or the Code of Conduct?
The Student Handbook outlines in detail the procedures for reporting and handling violations of the codes. In a nutshell, however, after a report of an alleged violation is made to the Office of the Dean of Students, the allegation is further investigated to determine the next best steps of the resolution process. The alleged student will be notified of the allegation and a meeting will be scheduled for the student to review the allegation(s), their rights, and the overall conduct process procedures. 

Will I be allowed to defend myself against an allegation?
Yes! All alleged students are given the opportunity to present their information to the Office of the Dean of Students. Students may choose an advisor to help them through the process, but must speak for themselves! This advisor can be a parent, loved one, attorney, or another member of the College of Charleston community. Our office has a list of potential advisors who are familiar with our processes if you are interested in connecting with them.

In the event of a formal hearing, no one, including an advisor, will be allowed to speak for you, but you may invite witnesses to participate in the hearing in support of your summary of events.

What criteria must be met for a student to be found “in violation” of the Codes?
The Honor System does not require proof “beyond a reasonable doubt.” This system is based on a preponderance of evidence, that is, if the decisional authority (e.g., Office of the Dean of Students staff member, Honor Board, etc.) determines that the evidence against you shows that there is a “more likely than not” chance that you committed the offence, then you will be found in violation. In other words, if the decisional authority reviewing your case believes there is a greater than 51 percent chance that you violated the Honor System, then you will be found responsible.

I was found “in violation” of the Honor Code or Code of Conduct, but I didn't do it and these sanctions are harsh! What can I do?
Students are permitted to contest any informal resolution from our office; the process to contest an outcome and request a formal hearing can be found at the bottom of your outcome letter.

After a formal hearing, there is an appeal process available. Appeals can be made against both the findings of the decisional authority (i.e., Honor Board or single administrator) as well as the sanctions imposed by the decisional authority. However, there are specific criteria for launching an appeal (see Student Handbook for more information).

If I get in trouble, will my parents and friends find out?
Almost all cases referred to the Office of the Dean of Students are kept confidential. However, in cases involving violations of the College’s alcohol or drug policies by students under 21, the College exercises its right to notify parents. In cases involving crimes of violence, others can be informed of the charges and outcomes.

But I didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to do that! How can you charge me for something I didn’t know about?
As a student, you will be held accountable for contents of the Student Handbook. This means that while officially enrolled at the College, you are responsible for knowing the contents of the Student Handbook and abiding by its rules. It is your responsibility to understand the policies at College of Charleston.

Who can report violations of the Honor Code or Code of Conduct?
Any member of the College Community can report violations of the Honor Code or Code of Conduct. The College can also receive reports from those not affiliated with the College of Charleston, including City of Charleston officials or residents of the peninsula. 

Students can be held accountable for their behavior off campus. The College reserves the right to exercise jurisdiction over off-campus activities that would violate the Honor System had they occurred on-campus (Student Handbook).

My professor has guidelines in their syllabus that differ from those in the Honor Code. Which should I follow?
You must comply with the directions of your professors. The Honor System, including the Honor Code, upholds and enforces individual professors’ guidelines and requirements for their courses, whether they are stricter or more lenient than the Honor Code.

I think that I am being treated unfairly by my professor. What can I do?
The College provides formal procedures for student grievances. Students may file complaints against faculty, staff or administrators of the College. The Student Handbook outlines these procedures in detail. Student complaint information, including the reporting form, can also be found on the Hub

What’s the most common violation of the Honor Code?
By far the most frequent violation of the Honor Code is plagiarism. Many students are unclear on what constitutes plagiarism. The Student Handbook defines plagiarism as:

  • The verbatim repetition, without acknowledgement, of the writings of another author. All significant phrases, clauses, or passages, taken directly from source material must be enclosed in quotation marks and acknowledged in the text itself and/or in footnotes/endnotes.
  • Borrowing without acknowledging the source.
  • Paraphrasing the thoughts of another writer without acknowledgement.
  • Allowing any other person or organization (including Generative AI) to prepare work which one then submits as his/her own.
When in doubt—cite! If you don’t know—ask!

Does the College keep records of Honor System violations?
All conduct records are maintained by the College for seven (7) years from the time of their creation except those that result in expulsion or are pending cases, which are maintained indefinitely. No earlier than one year after the date of sanction completion, a student may request that their conduct record be marked non-reportable. This stipulation does not apply to the XX grade sanction, pending cases, or expulsions. This request must be made in writing and will be reviewed by the Executive Vice President for Student Affairs or their designee.

I have a question that’s not addressed online or in the Student Handbook. Who can I ask?
Contact the Office of the Dean of Students at 843.953.5522 or deanofstudents@charleston.edu. Your question may be included in our next FAQ posting!

When in doubt—cite! If you don’t know—ask!

Good advice