This page addresses some frequently asked questions about the Honor Council and its procedures. For questions about the Honor Code and academic integrity at Harvard College, see the Honor Code website. To report a concern about a potential violation of the Honor Code, and for more information about reporting, visit the Office of Academic Integrity and Student Conduct website.

Questions about the Honor Council

What is the Honor Council?

The Harvard College Honor Council is a body of students, faculty, and administrators working to uphold the Honor Code and raise awareness about academic integrity within the Harvard College community. The Council includes voting members, who investigate concerns about violations of the Honor Code and determine appropriate responses, and Student Academic Integrity Fellows (SAIFs), who advise students through the Honor Council process. For more information about the structure and principles of the Honor Council, click here.

Who is on the Honor Council?

The voting body of the Harvard College Honor Council is composed of undergraduate students, graduate teaching fellows, faculty, and administrators. Membership of the current Honor Council voting body can be found here. In addition to voting members, undergraduate Student Academic Integrity Fellows (SAIFs) play an important role advising students going through the Honor Council process. A list of SAIFs for the 2016-2017 academic year can be found here.

How are Honor Council members selected?

Beginning in November, the Honor Council will invite students, faculty, staff, and other members of the Harvard College community to nominate undergraduates to serve on the Honor Council. Nominated students are then invited to apply to the Council in January. Faculty and staff members are appointed to the Council by the Danoff Dean of Harvard College. For more information about membership selection, as well as a timeline of the nomination and application process, see Selection of Members

What kind of concerns does the Honor Council investigate?

The Honor Council responds to all potential violations of the Honor Code and rules on academic integrity, including suspected plagiarism, inappropriate collaboration, and improper use of sources. For information about Harvard College's Honor Code and academic integrity policies, see the Honor Code website and the Harvard College Handbook for Students

Questions about Student Academic Integrity Fellows (SAIFs)

What is a SAIF?

A Student Academic Integrity Fellow (SAIF) is an undergraduate student trained in the procedures and policies of the Honor Council. SAIFs provide support to students going through an Honor Council review by explaining the Honor Council procedures, helping students understand their options during the Honor Council process, offering feedback on draft personal statements, connecting students to resources outside of the Honor Council, and remaining a point of contact for the student following the conclusion of the review. While SAIFs may accompany students to their interactions with the Honor Council, they do not deliberate or vote on cases.

For more information about the role of SAIFs, click here. For a list of current SAIFs, see 2016-17 SAIFs.

Do I have to work with a SAIF?

When a student is going through the Honor Council process, s/he has the choice of whether or not to work with a SAIF, as well as the choice of which SAIF to work with. Selecting a SAIF, or choosing not to work with one, will not affect any proceedings or how the Honor Council reviews a case. Students can also choose to stop working with a SAIF at any point in the process.

What are the benefits of choosing a SAIF?

A SAIF can offer support throughout the Honor Council process in a number of ways including: 

    • reading through personal statement drafts and providing suggestions on how to best communicate a student's perspective to the Council
    • providing advice on how to think about potential questions that may be addressed during the Honor Council appearance
    • accompanying a student to the Honor Council appearance
    • connecting a student to resources outside of the Honor Council
    • remaining a point of contact for the student following the conclusion of the review

To what extent are SAIFs confidential?

A SAIF will keep all information about a case and SAIF-student interactions confidential outside of the Honor Council. However, as members of the Honor Council, SAIFs cannot allow a student to be dishonest to the voting members of the Council and may, in some cases, share case-relevant information with other Council members. In the event that this must happen, the SAIF will discuss with the student exactly what they are going to disclose to the Council before doing so.

Questions about the process

What happens in an Honor Council meeting?

During an Appearance, the student will have the opportunity to further explain her or his case to the Council team and will have the option to answer follow-up questions from members of the Council team. The student is also welcome to ask her or his own questions of the Council team. Details about the Procedures of an Appearance are available here

What are the possible outcomes of an Honor Council case?

The Honor Council employs a range of responses when reviewing potential violations of the Honor Code or rules on academic integrity. A full list and explanation of each possible response available to the Honor Council can be found here.

If you have any additional questions about the Honor Council or its procedures, please contact us at honorcouncil@fas.harvard.edu.