The Honor Council has been increasing outreach efforts in the past year to better inform students and professors about the Honor Code. Additionally, the student body will have the opportunity to vote this semester on a revision proposed by the Honor Council.
“I think that we don’t necessarily have a good reputation, or a reputation at all, because people are confused about what we are, or view us as a punitive body,” said sophomore Ali Baird, Secretary of the Honor Council. “On our end, we could improve reaching out to students and letting them know what we do.”
This past year, members of the Honor Council visited every First Year Experience class to go over the Honor Code. For the 2017-2018 year, they hope to implement an online course for all first-year students, which would review the Honor Code and clarify any questions students may have about violations. The test would be similar to “Think About It,” the online course that reviews drugs, alcohol abuse, and relationships.
Currently, the Council is composed of 33 students and two faculty advisors. They meet every Wednesday for lunch to discuss ongoing projects, upcoming events, and anonymous case updates. The topic of conversation then switches to proposed amendments of the Honor Code or investigation handbook.
Last semester they decided to propose changes to some of the specific wording in the Honor Code. During Blocks 7 or 8, students will get to vote on whether said changes are ratified. Most Honor Code violations are brought about by professors who suspect a student of cheating. Once the Honor Council is notified, two unbiased members are assigned to the case. The investigators, who cannot know the accused person, “meet with the person bringing the suspected violation, the suspected student, professors, and any other potential witnesses to collect relevant evidence,” said Baird.
They then decide whether to charge the person, and whether the violation was flagrant. If the student pleads guilty, the Council recommends the student receive a No Credit grade for a non-flagrant violation, or at minimum a suspension for a flagrant violation. The final decision is made by either the professor or President Tiefenthaler.
If the student pleads not guilty, a panel composed of five to eight Honor Council members convenes to hear the case. After considering all evidence and testimonies, the Council decides whether it was flagrant, non-flagrant, or no charge. The consequence of being found guilty is the same as pleading guilty. On average, there are 25 cases a year, 60-70 percent of which end in a guilty verdict. This year, there have been only five cases that have required a panel.“
A lot of the cases we get are dropped because we assume innocent until proven guilty,” said junior Stephanie Kelly, co-chair of the Honor Council. “In general, the students admitted to CC may have a higher moral standard, and that’s why a lot of cases get dropped. I think I have higher hopes that the CC population respects those values.”
“I think that it’s a positive thing that we have a student-led body to promote ethics of fairness of academic integrity,” said Baird. “I would hope that other people are taking their academic work seriously and respecting the hard work other students are putting into tests and completing assignments.”