Honor Committee to host 'Honor Congress' to crowdsource improvement ideas

Forum open to students, small groups to foster discussion


The Honor Committee will host an open-forum for students and community members Thursday to address recent problems with the Committee identified both by committee members and fellow students.

The “Honor Congress” will be held at 5 p.m. in the University’s Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library. The Congress will feature student small group discussions about various issues regarding the current state of honor at the University. Michelle Butler, outgoing vice chair for community relations, said she hopes this event will help guide the Honor Committee to improve the honor system going forward.

“We have had an idea to do an event like this for a while,” said Butler, a fourth-year College student. “We try and deal with [problems facing the honor system] the best we can, but at a certain point it’s not just up to the Honor Committee, it’s up to the students.”

Demographically-disproportionate report rates, inconsistent jury verdicts and faculty circumvention of the system by dealing with honor offenses internally raised major concern among Committee members, according to the Honor Congress’ Facebook event page.

“I see these as the high-level problems that lead to daily frustrations, such as the low reporting rate and inconsistent verdicts,” said incoming Honor Chair Nick Hine, a third-year College student, in an email.

Students can register to participate in the event online and indicate which issues regarding honor are most important to them, Butler said. Honor will compile the information to create small focus groups of students to discuss at the Congress. An Honor Committee representative will sit in on each small group as an information resource during the discussion.

“The main part of the event [is] small, informal discussion groups,” Hine said. “I hope the discussions will produce ideas and solutions for some of these persistent problems.”

With the current Honor Committee less than a week away from leaving office and transitioning to the next Committee, Butler says the Congress will offer an excellent opportunity for incoming officers to gain insight into what problems they will be facing in their upcoming term, as well as how they might address them.

“I think it actually comes at a really good time,” Butler said. “This event will mark a really good transition point.”

Butler said the Committee will take action on any helpful suggestions made during the event.

“[What we do] is really going to depend on what comes out of the Congress,” Butler said. “If it [requires] a constitutional change, for example, that would have to wait until the voting period next year.”

On the other hand, Butler said something such as a change in the way the Committee educates students about the honor system could be implemented very soon.

The Committee anticipates 150 to 200 students will attend the Congress, Hine said, though the space can accommodate up to 500.

“I hope that we can work closely with students from the Congress when we implement any initiatives that come out of the Congress,” Hine said.

Published April 1, 2014 in FP test, News

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