Honor Council holds lightly attended mock trial

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March 20, 2009

3:59 AM

The College of William and Mary Honor Council held a mock hearing Wednesday night as part of the first annual Ethics Week, an event jointly sponsored by the Honor Council and Student Conduct Council.

Honor Council Chair Bailey Thomson ’10 said the week’s events were designed, in part, around increasing transparency of the organizations.

“The only thing seen by students is the case log published each semester,” Thomson said. “This worried a lot of students.”

Thomson said that students are often suspicious of Honor Council proceedings because privacy issues prevent case rationales and evidence from being published.

“Sometimes, even similar cases can have different outcomes,” Thomson said. “The thing is each [proceeding] is case-specific, and people aren’t aware of the various stages.”

The event began with a film starring Kelley Quinn ’09 as a student who chose to plagiarize a paper, and then followed her through the judicial process as she was brought to trial. Attending council members supplemented the mock trial with explanations of each stage as well as student rights and responsibilities.

The session also served as a training exercise for newly elected members who had not yet witnessed any trials.

Few outside the Honor Council community were present. Only around ten non-members attended the event.
Students voted down a referendum on Honor Council proceedings by a margin of more than two-to-one last month. Thomson said that the lack of trust in the Honor Council by the campus community was an issue the organization would have to face.

“It’s become clear we need to work on improving the image of the Honor Council to the community,”
Thomson said. “It’s our hope that those who have questions will attend [future] events like this. However, we really hope to engage those who were opposed in the past.”

Thomson said plans for the event had been settled before the referendum was voted down. However, similar events will take place in the future.

“It’s pretty clear with the referendum that there is not clear communication between students and the Honor Council, and tonight we can start that up,” Honor Council member John Pothen ’11 said.

Other events from the week included a town-hall-style meeting Tuesday in the Wren Chapel with College President Taylor Reveley to discuss community thoughts on integrity and a screening tonight of the film “Gone Baby Gone,” which discusses the moral implications surrounding a kidnapping case.

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