Integrity at Western
We, the faculty, students, administration, and staff of Western Washington University, are deeply committed to integrity as a necessary principle of liberal education. This can only be truly achieved when we commit to integrity throughout all of our activities at the University, including our work, academics, and campus life. To this end, each of us has a responsibility to be fair and honest. As a community of students, faculty, staff, and administrators, we recognize that our actions reflect on each of us and on Western as a whole. As such, we honor integrity as vital to our community and the ideals of liberal education.
What does it mean to have integrity?
First, we use the term “integrity” rather than “honesty” because integrity is a broader, more holistic concept. Integrity applies to all of the the principles, values, and behaviors that contribute to good character, including, for example, honesty, fairness, respect, perseverance, and courage.
Integrity matters because it has long been recognized as one of the main qualities of what we simply but significantly call “a good person”, one who is respected and admired for their character. We exhibit integrity within the classroom when we pursue and develop our own ideas. We respect the work of others by crediting them, and paraphrasing their words rather than assuming their language as ours.
How does one demonstrate a lack of integrity (cheat)?
When someone lies, they are demonstrating a lack of integrity. What does it mean to lie? Anytime a person does something the class or assignment does not allow, represents someone else's work as her/his own, or copies material from an external source (such as the World Wide Web) without giving credit to that source, a person is cheating. We deliberately use the word cheating, defined by Merriam Webster Dictionary as “to deprive of something valuable by the use of deceit or fraud”, because it references the fact that when a person cheats, someone else is deprived of their right to fairness in academic endeavors. The Academic Honesty Policy provides specific examples of cheating.
Some students erroneously think that dishonesty is synonymous with plagiarism, but there are actually many ways in which they may be asked to exhibit integrity at Western—in the classroom, on field trips, in the community, at play, and in our daily interactions with one another. We encourage the Western community to make integrity a part of a wider discussion on the kind of community we want to be rather than as simply focusing on how to avoid plagiarism.
Why does integrity matter?
Academic integrity and personal responsibility are important parts of the personal and professional worlds in which the Western community engages. Integrity matters when we interact with one another, as it requires that we be respectful and considerate of one another. Integrity matters in our professions because it is by honest and fair work that societies grow and thrive. And our honest approach to academic work enables us to extend our minds, to commit to excellence and to become true scholars. Dishonest, disrespectful, and unfair behavior is not a victimless crime; it creates an uneven playing field, it reduces trust between colleagues, and it lowers the standards to which the Western community holds itself. With time and commitment, the practice of integrity evolves from duty to habit.
Active Minds Changing Lives
The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once stated “Intelligence plus character – that is the true goal of education.” This concept underlies Western’s motto, “Active Minds Changing Lives”. To stretch and develop our active minds, we as a community must challenge ourselves to develop our own ideas, our own opinions and our own perspectives. But to be truly life changing, a liberal education must also involve a commitment to integrity, ethics and character.