Class of 2015 pledges to uphold Elon values

Thursday’s 6th annual Call to Honor ceremony in the Academic Village emphasized the pillars of Elon’s Honor Code.

Elected officers of all four currently enrolled classes at Elon led the Call to Honor program.

Freshmen gathered in the Academic Village on Thursday morning for the 6th annual Call to Honor, where elected campus leaders shared how Elon University students are expected to live by the core principles of the Honor Code as members of the academic community.

“Elon’s academic and social honor codes have been joined into a unified code to remind us that once we become members of this community, Elon’s principles of honor apply to us both on and off campus,” said senior Sam Warren, president of the Student Government Association.

As part of the Sept. 15 ceremony, the elected presidents of each currently enrolled class took turns addressing the four pillars of the university’s Honor Code – honesty, integrity, responsibility and respect. Prior to the ceremony, they had signed their names in the Call to Honor Book, which includes signatures from alumni dating to 1936.

Honesty: “Honesty means keeping your word to others and meeting your obligations,” said Taylor Martin, senior class president. “When you practice honesty, others come to see you as a person who can be trusted and relied upon.”

Integrity: “Integrity means being guided by our internal core commitments and behaving toward others in ways that are consistent with them,” said David Brown, junior class president. “Our integrity means that we are true to our word and can be trusted to carry out our responsibilities and live up to our pledges.”

Students signed the pledge on poster boards on tables surrounding the Call to Honor gathering.

Responsibility: “Every action we make, whether in a small community like here at Elon or in the vast regions of the real world, creates a ripple that extends further and affects more people than we think,” said Ryan Budden, sophomore class president. “Acting as a responsible individual draws upon your past, affects your present and determines your future.”

Respect: “As a community we consider it paramount to respect the differences that we will encounter, whether on campus or in a study abroad course,” said freshman class president Joe Incorvia. “We will meet people from different countries, races, ethnic and religious backgrounds. … Remember that everyone here is a valuable member of our community, and all deserve the same respect you want for yourself.”

The ceremony also featured remarks by Elon President Leo M. Lambert and from Darris Means ’05, who encouraged students to sign the honor pledge following the program at tables surrounding the commons.

“Because our culture teachers us to value ourselves as individuals, we sometimes think that our actions affect only ourselves,” said Means, the associate director of the Elon Academy. “That is too narrow a view. The reputation of a university can be affected by the actions of just a small group, or even a single person. Imagine the damage to our reputation – indeed to the value of our community – when incidents such as hazing, dangerous drinking behaviors, and academic cheating occur.

“Individual students can get swept up in the actions of a group, or thinking that the rules of a community don’t apply to themselves, or choose to take an easy way out of a challenging situation. These are very short-sighted behaviors.”

Students also received a commemorative coin inscribed with the word “honor.”

Lambert led students in reciting the Call to Honor.

“Today we are entrusted with the honorable legacy of Elon University, dedicated to the intellectual, personal and spiritual growth of all its members, to the advancement of knowledge for the good of all, and to the service of local, national and global communities. To that end, we affirm our commitment to the core values of our university:

“We commit ourselves to honesty, being truthful in our academic work and in our relationship with others.

“We commit ourselves to show integrity, being trustworthy, fair and ethical.

“We commit ourselves to responsibility, being accountable for our actions and for our learning.

“We commit ourselves to respect, being civil, valuing the dignity of each person, and respecting the physical and intellectual property of others.

“With these commitments we join generations of Elon students as bearers of its honor.”

Students said afterward that bringing the class together created an opportunity to reflect on responsible citizenship, especially in light of the recent episodes where occupants of passing vehicles hurled racial insults toward students. The episodes prompted a Sept. 9 community forum in McKinnon Hall and a special College Coffee on Sept. 13.

“Honor is a big deal to me because I’ve been a victim of acts similar what happened here on campus,” said freshman C.J. Moore. “Keeping honor in this community is important. This is the reason I came to Elon, for these four values. And this needs to happen more than once in our freshman year. … I’m happy we had this ceremony, but believe me, there’s more that needs to happen.”

Andy Lynch, a freshman from Portland, Maine, said he appreciated the symbolism to the Call to Honor ceremony. “They did a good job presenting what the different tenets mean to us as students, and that as students at Elon, we respect these values,” he said.

Lynch also reflected on the value to signing the honor pledge at the tables behind the audience. “With your name on that, there’s physical evidence that you pledged to be part of this pact,” he said. “And it means you stopped and thought for a minute, just to realize what you’re doing.”