Cooperation should not be a fairy tale
February 11, 2011
Given the Student Assembly’s demand for reform of the Honor Council and its subsequent threat to deny it funding, it can hardly be expected that the beliefs held by members of the SA will change anytime soon. I’m sure Sen. Zach Marcus ’12 meant well with his sponsorship of the Peter Pan Act, which stated that the SA did not believe the Honor Council intentionally violated student rights. However, it is wishful thinking to believe that passing such a measure will erase all prior statements, opinions and emotions. Rebuilding the bridges burned between the Honor Council and the SA will take a lot more work.
Rejected 3-9-7, one may think the bill was a waste of time and effort, but I don’t fully agree. The one section of the bill I found worthwhile was the idea of placing negotiations with members of the Honor Council in the charge of a specific senator. The Peter Pan Act included this, appointing Marcus to the role.
With all the existing tension, the SA should be more concerned with creating avenues of communication and fostering future negotiations. It should not waste time and effort voting on whether or not it thinks the Honor Council intentionally violated student rights. I can’t speak for the Honor Council, but I would prefer the groups to be able to communicate effectively instead of the College having to endure continued attacks from both sides. If necessary, perhaps provisions should be made for an outsider, such as an administrator or faculty member, who could act as a mediator.
The actual vote on the Peter Pan Act was very interesting. Nearly the same number that rejected the bill abstained from voting. While one senator attributed this to a lack of “gut,” I think something else was at play. Obviously, a great deal of the SA still feels strongly about the Honor Council’s conduct. Given that, even if you disagreed, what difference would it make to vote against your fellow senators on a bill that wouldn’t change much? Most likely you would make enemies of many of the other senators, while not achieving much — if any — progress. And after witnessing the intensity of feelings with regard to the Honor Council, I wouldn’t want to get on the majority of the SA’s bad side either.
I have a feeling that the Honor Council would not have been willing to let everything in the past go simply with the passing of the Peter Pan Act, and because of that, I don’t believe it to be very central. The SA should either be actively working to reform the Honor Council, or it should back off — and not just in terms of words. Actions are what it took when attempting to initiate reform and actions will need to be taken to mend the situation. That is, of course, on the condition that members of the SA actually want to ease the tension with the Honor Council. And from the outcome of the vote on the Peter Pan Act, it looks like they’re not quite ready for that.