Honor Principle

sallway imageHistory & Essays


Reed College is truly a unique place.  Many look to its demanding academics and quirky students, but what really sets Reed apart is the Honor Principle.  The Honor Principle is a common moral standard for the Reed community that demands a constant evaluation of action and consequence in order to create a community of mutual trust and safety.

The Honor Principle allows a level of self-governance unmatched by nearly all academic communities. Members of the Reed community do not govern their behavior according to a codified set of rules. The Honor Principle demands that we evaluate our conduct in relation to the community and assume responsibility for our actions. Rather than evaluating our actions against the “objective” measure of a rule, actions are evaluated on a case by case basis.

The reflection and discussion mandated by the Honor Principle create the uniquely cohesive community at Reed. All members of the community must have concern for each other’s interests, ensuring that everybody’s rights are respected as dictated by the Honor Principle. Students, staff and faculty commit themselves to uphold the Honor Principle and to be active participants in the community.

Below is a selection of essays that various community members have written regarding the Honor Principle.  Some describe the Honor Principle’s historical development, and some delve into its practical application. All, however, help the formation of a more complete understanding of how the Reed community uses the Honor Principle.