Student Council hears Honor

Honor Chair, medical student face-off on merits of elected jurors, informed retraction's true impact

Honor Committee Chair Stephen Nash, a fourth-year College student, and fourth-year Medical student Taylor Richardson spoke at Tuesday’s Student Council meeting about the proposed Honor Committee reforms.

Students will vote on the twofold proposal February 25-28. The first reform removes the option for trials to be heard by a randomly selected jury of students, and replaces it with a jury of elected Honor representatives. The second proposal, informed retraction, allows students accused of honor offenses to admit their wrongdoing instead of going to trial. Students would then be required to leave the University for one year before returning, at which time the violation would be removed from their record. Students will vote on the proposals as a package, rather than as individual reforms.

“[Honor’s] internal problems are leading to great external problems,” Nash said, calling for decisive reform of what he said is a broken system.

Richardson said the committee’s bylaws were not the problem, and said the system should support random student juries.

“Because we have single sanction, you should be able to trust all [students] to be honorable and we should be able to trust everyone here to render accurate and fair decisions [as jury members,]” Richardson said.

Nash, however, said the jury reform would create a fairer trial for all students brought up on honor offenses by creating more consistent verdicts.

“What we have is an inexperienced jury interpreting facts [and] bylaws,” Nash said. “The more dishonest you are able to be, the more likely you are to be reintegrated into community of trust.”

Richardson also spoke out against allowing students to return to the University after admitting an honor violation. “Next year I will be a physician and I can’t expect there to be an informed retraction,” he said. “The real world will demand more of us.”

The proposal also privileges students with the financial means to take time off, Richardson said, disadvantaging international students or those on financial aid.

“Our current system treats everyone exactly the same,” he said.

Nash said the new system would permit students to finish out the semester so they could sort out financial affairs before leaving.

”[The reform] is not perfect, but we think it’s substantially better and will protect the honest student,” Nash said.

Nash and Richardson were invited to the meeting to help inform and educate the Council members as representatives of the student body, said Council chair of the representative body Alex Reber, a fourth-year Engineering student.

“Even I’m still undecided,” Reber said. “I think the questions that were asked [at Council] show how much is unknown, but this gives us the opportunity to educate people to the full extent of the changes.”

related stories