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To the Editor,

I write to share clarification and historical context in response to the letter by former Honor Committee chairs that was published on Monday, Dec. 11​.​ ​The authors declare​ that for violations of the honor system​, “in 1893, Princeton students settled on a consequence — one-year suspension​...”​​​ In fact, for the majority of the Honor System's existence, the standard penalty for Honor Code violations was expulsion. A one-year suspension was not ​a listed penalty in the Constitution of the Honor System until 1974​.

​As indicated by the ​editor’s note ​to the former chairs’ letter​, w​hen undergraduates ​first ​adopted the Constitution in 1895,​ the recommended penalty for sophomores, juniors, and seniors was expulsion​,​ while ​the recommended penalty for ​first-year students ​was suspension​. ​B​y​ 1904, the ​standard ​penalty ​for all students was expulsion​.​

In 1921, undergraduates amended the Constitution to allow for “leniency in exceptional cases of violation of the Honor System​​” — suspension for at least one semester, but only after a unanimous vote of the Honor Committee at two separate meetings​. Nevertheless, the standard penalty remained expulsion.

Only in 1974 was the Constitution amended to explicitly allow the Honor Committee “a direct choice between permanent expulsion and one-year suspension​.​​​” Finally, ​in 1980, the​ standard penalty students faced changed to “suspension for one year​.​”

Zhan Okuda-Lim ’15, Former U-Council Chair and U-Councilor​

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