Skip to main content

Honesty – The Vanderbilt Community Creed

Posted by on Friday, April 15, 2016 in Academic Life, Vandy Bloggers.

Editor’s Note:  The Vanderbilt Community Creed is a statement of shared community values created by VU students. The Creed reflects the principles our community holds dear and serves as inspiration for the intellectual and personal growth Vanderbilt students strive toward. In this series of blog posts, we will explore the Community Creed–not just its lofty ambitions, but also what it really means to the lives of Vanderbilt students.

“HONESTY is a commitment to refrain from lying, cheating, and stealing. Recognizing that dishonesty undermines community trust, stifles the spirit of scholarship, and threatens a safe environment, we expect ourselves to be truthful in academic endeavors, in relationships with others, and in pursuit of personal development.”

Former Vanderbilt Dean of Students Madison Sarratt (1888-1978) once said “Today I am going to give you two examinations, one in trigonometry and one in honesty. I hope you will pass them both, but if you must fail one, let it be trigonometry, for there are many good men in this world who cannot pass an examination in trigonometry, but there are no good men in the world who cannot pass an examination in honesty.”

The second tenant of the Vanderbilt Community Creed is a guiding force for the actions of every student at Vanderbilt. In the pursuit of academics, Vanderbilt students are held to high standards of honesty and integrity. The honor code was originally proposed by Professors Edward S.Joynes and Milton W. Humphreys in 1875, just two years after the university’s founding. Every incoming Vanderbilt student since that time, within their first few weeks on our campus, gather together to partake in the Honor Code Signing Ceremony. All signatures are then framed and hung in the Sarratt Student Center, named after Dean of Students Charles Madison Sarratt.

VU Honor Code Signatures

The Honor Council, led by current Vanderbilt students, who coordinate with Vanderbilt faculty, was created to be protectors of the Honor Code, to inform Vanderbilt students about the Honor System, and to enforce the guidelines of the Honor Code. While the Honor Council are leaders of honesty at Vanderbilt, all current Vanderbilt student are encourage to foster a community of sincerity and integrity on campus. Current student Larissa May is furthering the cause of honesty at Vanderbilt into social media with her campaign #halfthestorry, which encourages students to paint a full, honest picture of their lives and involvements, beyond the glamorized snapshots we often see on social media platforms. Her campaign is just one of the ways Vanderbilt students are spreading the message of honesty both on and off campus.

While every student comes to Vanderbilt to further their education and seek new opportunities outside of the classroom, all students leave with a strong sense of honesty and integrity that they can carry with them through the rest of their life experiences.

VU Students on Honesty

“To me, honesty at Vanderbilt is so pervasive that it’s simply part of our routine. The fact that on the first page of each Vanderbilt test, there is a line to write your name and then a line to sign your understanding of the Honor Code pledge speaks volumes about how much our professors and students value honest work. One of the greatest life lessons I’ve learned as a Vanderbilt student is that your academic work only holds value if it has been done with honesty and integrity.”  –Jordan Barone, ‘16, Arlington Heights, IL

“To be frank, honesty is what this school runs on. That includes both honesty to others and honesty to yourself. The community at Vanderbilt is one that promotes trust among all it’s members. My professors feel comfortable leaving classes alone to take exams and I feel comfortable leaving my laptop alone on a table in the middle of a busy dining hall because we trust in our fellow Commodore’s ability to be honest. At the same time, being a member of the Vanderbilt community means being honest to yourself. That means not lying to yourself about who you are, or cheating yourself out of time spent doing what you love. Being a member of the Vanderbilt community is all about making choices, and I consider us all so lucky that the choice to be honest is one that everyone takes incredibly seriously.” –Andrew Brodsky, ‘16, Hot Springs, AR

Learn more about Honesty at Vanderbilt:

Office of The Dean of Students

Undergraduate Honor Council

The Honor System

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  • Deborah Humphrey Nustad

    May 24th, 2016

    It’s wonderful to see that the Honor Code and, more importantly, the spirit of honesty and integrity is still such a vital part of the fabric of Vandy. Having been an Honor Council officer nearly 30 years ago, it’s great to see deeply rooted values continuing and, in fact, expanding! Thanks for the great article, Anisha!