Honor reviews outreach effort
The Honor Committee met Sunday evening to discuss its continued efforts to win support for proposed honor code reforms from students and faculty members.
The proposal, entitled the Restore the Ideal Act, would give a student accused of an honor offense the option of offering an informed retraction, which allows him to plead guilty, complete that semester, then take a one-year suspension from the University. The suspension would be wiped from his transcript upon his return. Packaged together with informed retraction comes the Committee’s proposal of jury reform, which would require all honor trial juries to be comprised solely of Committee members, instead of randomly chosen peer students, which is the current practice.
Honor has sponsored a widespread campaign to encourage support for the initiative by lobbying different constituencies around Grounds, releasing a video explaining its reasoning and creating a Facebook event that has had more than 500 people pledge their support. The Committee has met with some strong backlash, however, with an opposing Facebook event receiving the support of nearly 1,000 people, and numerous groups and individuals, including former Committee members, publicly announcing their disapproval.
Honor Committee Chair Stephen Nash has been working to combat these measures, and said he received positive feedback when the act was presented to the Faculty Senate last week.
“That went extremely well,” Nash said. “The more we’re able to explain [the proposal] to individuals, the better.”
Nash spoke about the proposal to the Jefferson Literary and Debating Society Friday evening and took questions from Society members. He said the Committee has spoken with the Pan-Hellinic Council, Minority Rights Coalition, Inter-Fraternity Council and Multicultural Greek Council, and will be reaching out to Student Council Tuesday.
In an interview after the Committee meeting, Nash said the campaign promoting the Honor reforms and other costs associated with the proposal itself would be paid for through private donations, rather than state funds.
“I know in the past there have been private campaigns for and against proposals, and this is nothing out of line with those,” Nash said. “We have state funding and we have private funding, and we’re using private funding.”
Nash said that the funds spent during the campaign are solely to engage the student body in discussion of the reforms.
“We’re all doing this to try and make a better system, whether you agree or disagree,” Nash said. “We think we owe it to students to pass down a stronger system than we have now.”
Clifton Bumgardner, the Committee’s vice chair for trials, said he and fellow Engineering Honor Representative Rob Harrell met last week with the Engineering Student Council to discuss the proposal. Nursing School Representative Brooke Atkinson said she also held an information session for graduate nursing students as part of the outreach effort.
The Committee also discussed the upcoming elections and the transition of representatives that will take place following elections at the end of this month.
Every University school has at least two students on the ballot for a Committee spot in the upcoming election, which she said was “unprecedented” in recent memory, said Anne Gregory, the Committee’s vice chair for community relations.
“I would hope in the future that elections continue to be more and more competitive,” Nash said, “As students then have an active ability to choose people to represent them.”
Nash and other student leaders are planning a debate co-sponsored by the Minority Rights Coalition for the roughly 10 College students running for five Honor representative positions.