Committee work delayed

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April 26, 2011

2:02 AM

After nine months of meeting, the Honor System Review Committee will not have submitted a proposal for reform by the end of this academic year.

Created in October by College of William and Mary President Taylor Reveley, the committee has been working to identify problems in the Honor Code and to propose solutions.

“The committee has been working long and hard, and we are not at a point where we are going to produce anything, even preliminary findings, before the end of the semester,” committee chair and government professor Clay Clemens said. “It will be much later than we initially proposed, but [Reveley] is willing to accept it.”

Friday’s meeting included a discussion of Honor Code section five, which deals with infraction policies.

“Currently, the code calls for every alleged infraction to trigger a hearing,” Clemens said. “We have proposed a couple of means for making the process go faster.”

Accelerating the process was a major goal identified in the meetings, and while solutions have been proposed, the committee has not come to a consensus on how best to achieve it.

“There have been a couple of proposals so far, an expedited honor process is one,” John Pothen ’11, former chief justice of the Undergraduate Honor Council, said.

“There are a number of options available to essentially skip the process and allow for immediate or almost immediate resolution,” Pothen said.

Though most of the honor code has been examined, additional problems are still being addressed and evaluated.

“We have talked through the majority of the code at this point,” Pothen said. “There is no clear consensus for what should be done in most of those areas. The majority of them are contentious and will need a lot of discussion. They may even need to be submitted with a couple of ideas from the committee.”

The committee includes members of the Undergraduate Honor Council, members of the Student Assembly and members of the Student Conduct Council.

In its efforts to come to a plausible reform proposal, the committee has looked for outside guidance.

“We have gained valuable knowledge from the campus community through surveys to students, faculty, current and former council members and individuals on campus that have gone through the conduct system that has influenced our focus and level of priority,” committee member and Undersecretary for Student Rights Zann Isacson ’13 said. “The difficulty lies in building a system based on the current platform which prioritizes fairness to all parties involved, maintains the integrity on campus, and preserves our historical tradition.”

The Honor Council reform process comes in response to recent criticisms, and is also part of a frequently-occurring review process.

“The honor system gets reviewed regularly. There is not a set period of time. The last major changes were made in 1997,” Clemens said. “It is both a regular process and some expedited by the flaps of the last two or three years.”

The committee will hold one last meeting before the end of the year during finals to discuss sections six and seven of the code, and will reconvene in the fall to continue discussion.

In the fall, the committee hopes to submit a proposal of changes to the community at large for comment, and then to Reveley by the end of the semester.

“We had hoped initially that at this point we would be sending out proposals to the student body and college community at large,” Pothen said. “We found the task a little bit bigger than the plan originally sort of officiated.”

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