One Third of Respondents Broke the Honor Code

May 2, 2019

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Students overwhelmingly supported the statement that “it’s possible to do well academically without cheating at Middlebury.” Nearly nine in 10 respondents agreed to some degree with the prospect of succeeding without cheating. Still, over 35% of respondents also admitted to having broken the honor code, and  57% said they have never broken it.

There was an overwhelming skew towards STEM-oriented classes when students identified their hardest class they have taken at Middlebury. Mathematics was most frequently listed as the hardest department students have taken a class in; the Computer Science, Political Science and Chemistry departments were also named by more than 10% of total respondents. Traditional humanities courses were less frequently perceived as difficult.


The Zeitgeist survey also looked beyond students’ academic qualms and into issues they may face in the classroom. Students were asked how many times in any given week they feel they are unable to express their opinions. As a whole, roughly one in seven respondents reported feeling unable to speak freely more than three times in a given week; over half of respondents reported withholding their opinions one to three times a week.

Students who identified as social conservatives reported dramatic differences in their willingness to express opinions in class. 48% of social conservatives withhold their opinions four or more times during an average week, compared to 14.5% of the student body as a whole.  Most saliently, 17% of social conservatives reported withholding their opinion more than 10 times a week, compared to a mere 2% of the overall population.

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