In the early years of Wells College, student life was governed by a set of rules. These rules included required periods of exercise, noise levels, and times for lights out in the evenings. Eventually, many students became concerned by the amount of rule-breaking going on at the school. In 1897 they decided to adopt a system of self-governance, with rules drawn up and agreed upon by the students. They hoped that by having the students agree on the rules they would feel a greater responsibility to keep them.

The first code was signed by a group of students on a trial basis. Following the successful trial, the system was presented before Collegiate, which had only recently been founded. The code was unanimously adopted and implemented for every student belonging to Collegiate. Students were elected to a committee to enforce the new honor system.

Many of the rules in the code were considered common sense by the students, such as the amount of exercise required by each student daily or the times students should go to bed at night. For example, the rules stated each student should do45 minutes of open-air exercise a day, go to bed at 10:00pm (with the exception of seniors, who were allowed an extra half hour), and refrain from playing an instrument from 3:00pm-5:30pm on Sundays. The students noticed that the new honor system improved daily chapel attendance, but the hoped-for reduction of noise in the library was not realized.

The Honor Code has undergone changes since 1897, but remains an integral part of the Wells Community.

Information taken from the print collection of the Wells College Archive, Louis Jefferson Long Library, Aurora, New York.

Tiffany Raymond ’10 Reference and Instruction Librarian Wells College Long Library