Running the College of William and Mary Honor Council isn’t cheap.
For each of the past three years, the Student Assembly has granted the Honor Council an operating budget of $1,500. Individual cases brought before the council require a lot of paperwork, and without proper SA funding, the Honor Council’s office bill would be tough to cover.
And now, that funding is on the line.
“Our funding in the future is going to be dependent on the committee that has been formed by the Student Assembly and the Honor Council,” Honor Council Chairman John Pothen ’11 said. “The budget in question [is] $1,500, which is actually fairly essential to the work we do.”
Last semester, The Necessary Honor Council Reform Act made changes to the SA finance code that prevents the senate from providing any funding to the Honor Council. Future allocations to the Honor Council are contingent upon the premise that “fundamental reforms are enacted to protect student rights and prevent frequent procedural irregularities.”
The task of defining those reforms has fallen to a joint committee composed of five Honor Council members and five SA members. The committee has met weekly since Sept. 12 to discuss possible reforms and address the dearth of knowledge within the College community about the Honor Council.
“As it’s written, we cannot fund the Honor Council,” Sen. Noah Kim ’13 said. “The reform would have to be sufficient. I can’t tell you what would constitute efficient reform.”
According to Kim, who serves on the committee, the committee has already agreed to recommend an oversight function that would allow an appeals committee member to sit in on Honor Council proceedings.
“In the beginning, there was a lot of education that needed to happen,” Honor Council liaison to the SA Eric Robinson ’11 said. “The general view, I would say, is that there needs to be a way for increased student engagement in the honor process.”
The committee is trying to complete its review of the Honor Council by February, when the SA budget allocation process begins. The Honor Council has access to its $1,500 until then.
“We’re working on a pretty tight schedule,” Kim said.
Recommendations will be made to both the Honor Council and to the Honor Code Review Committee, recently formed by College President Taylor Reveley. Any proposed changes to the Honor Council’s bylaws must be approved by three-quarters of the council’s membership.
“I’m excited for the committee’s recommendations,” Robinson said. “We’ve shown a desire to work with each other and continue to move forward.”
Robinson added that if the Honor Council did not agree with the committee’s recommendations, it would try to use the recommendations to compromise with the SA.
According to Robinson, there is no backup plan for funding if the SA deems any bylaw reform insufficient.
“Really, right now, we don’t know. We don’t know what would happen if the SA didn’t fund us,” Robinson said. “We want SA funding; we want to work with the SA.”