Honor Committee discusses new internal structure proposal
Potential change to combine support officer roles; some Committee members question bylaw change
The Honor Committee continued to discuss a proposal to combine support officer roles during its meeting Sunday evening. The combination of roles expressed in the bylaws would go hand-in-hand with combined recruitment and training of support officers.
Currently, Honor Committee support officers are selected each year to serve as either counsel, advisors or educators. Counsel represent both the accused student and the community during trial, advisors guide students through the trial process and provide emotional support and educators inform members of the University community about the Honor Committee. Most members of the Honor Committee are not opposed to folding the educator pool into the advisor and counsel pools.
Under the proposed changes, a substantially smaller pool of support officers — 40 instead of the nearly 70 per year chosen now — would train together and be permitted to serve in any of the three support roles.
Fourth-year College student Conor O’Boyle, the vice-chair for trials, said the changes would improve the job each current support officer can do. Honor Committee Chair Behrle, a fourth-year College student, said the Honor Committee had issues with retention, mutual ignorance across support pools and spreading training resources thin.
“There is I think widely [a] recognized problem … that too many support officers do not feel fully equipped to do the job … we ask them to do,” Behrle said.
Third-year College student Nick Hine, a senior advisor, said the new combined interview process would focus on ensuring candidates could participate in various parts of a trial and present information about the Honor Committee to the general student body.
“Since we’re obviously trying to get more holistic candidates, we’re going to make both of the interviews [for support officer] longer and more in depth,” Hine said.
While combining recruitment and training would require only executive committee action, removing support officer specialization would require a bylaw change. Fourth-year Engineering Student Colin Leslie, an Engineering Honor Committee representative, joined other members of the Committee in questioning the need for a bylaw change.
“Implementing a change that’s been worked on extensively for the past week or week-and-a-half … seems a little rushed to me,” Leslie said. “I’m just extremely concerned we are going with the big bang approach as opposed to phase I.”
Leslie said issues with the selection and training process could leave the Committee without competent support officers.
Fourth-year Commerce Student Will Dantzler, a Commerce Honor Committee representative, said the proposed changes could exacerbate issues with support officer competency, which the changes seek to address.
“It seems to me, if we’re giving [support officers] three roles to develop expertise in instead of one, it limits the amount of expertise [they can develop],” Dantzler said. “I think our current system where people are siloed into one of those two roles [counsel or advisor] is effective.”
Fourth-year Commerce student Patrick Shikani, the second Commerce Honor Committee representative, said he was concerned certain support roles would attract more interest from support officers than other roles in the new system, potentially leaving roles understaffed.
Behrle said the differences between just combining training and recruitment, which most members of the Committee supported, and adding bylaw changes to do away with specialization was that a bylaw change would allow the officers to actually take on the multiple roles they trained for.
O’Boyle said many support officers were interested in learning about the other support officer pools.
“The only counsel who said they were not interested in cross training were the counselors planning on graduating [this spring],” O’Boyle.
The Committee will likely vote on the changes this coming Sunday, Behrle said.