Honor Committee hears from UJC, HRL on recruitment procedures

The Committee is seeking to generate a more diverse pool of support officer applicants

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The Honor Committee held its final meeting of the academic year Sunday evening. 

Fota Sall | Cavalier Daily

The Honor Committee held its final meeting of the academic year Sunday evening. During the meeting, the Committee heard presentations from Kevin Warshaw, a third-year Engineering student and University Judiciary Committee chair, and Harper North, a second-year College and Batten student and incoming vice chair for selections for Housing and Residence Life. Each person spoke on their respective organization’s recruitment process for support officers and resident advisors. 

The presentations came one week after the Committee began discussions around making changes to the recruitment of support officers — University students who participate in the workings of the Honor System by staffing cases and working with Committee representatives — in order to reduce the complexity of the process and recruit a more diverse pool of support officers. 

Ory Streeter, a Medicine student and Honor Committee chair, opened the meeting by saying Honor is “always looking to increase the diversity of our applicant pool for support officers.”

Streeter expressed that Honor support officers “are vitally important to the functioning of Honor” and should consist of a “diverse pool of people … with a lot of different backgrounds, a lot of different skills.” 

A report released by the Honor Audit Commission in February revealed that only about 20 percent of surveyed students agreed with the statement “the Honor Committee represents the diversity of the University.” The Commission was created by the 2015-16 Honor Committee to review the honor system as a whole and help better connect students to the Honor Committee.

Warshaw and North then proceeded to talk briefly about the logistics of their respective organizations’ application process and how each organization works to ensure as broad of an applicant pool as possible. Warshaw advised the Committee to consider the goal of a support officer pool consisting of “diverse background[s] and having an entire group be able to approach an idea from different perspectives.” 

Warshaw said UJC began recruitment in the fall semester by utilizing conventional outreach methods including chalking, handing out flyers and maintaining an active social media presence. However, the group realized that these methods were “not necessarily the most effective way of connecting with people,” especially considering the reputation of UJC as being highly selective and lacking diversity.

After the application deadline passed, Warshaw said, a trend was observed that approximately 50 percent of the applicants were white males. In order to remedy the lack of diversity in the applicant pool, UJC chose to extend the application deadline to several weeks later and make pushes in outreach to specific minority organizations, friends and RA contacts in order to increase the number of diverse applicants. 

The decision proved successful for UJC, as Warshaw noted that only about 15 percent of applicants who applied for the second deadline in the fall semester were white males. 

North also spoke to the importance of having a broad and hands-on outreach in HRL’s recruitment process for RAs. North said HRL has a vice chair specifically in charge of organizing and overseeing the selection process due to the fact that HRL receives approximately 400 applicants for RA positions every year — a number comparable to Honor’s support officer applicant pool. 

According to North, HRL “pursue[s] a boots on the ground approach in a lot of ways” when it comes to recruitment, saying that one of their primary strategies is working closely with numerous student organizations around Grounds to give presentations at general body meetings. 

Unlike UJC and Honor, however, HRL “[hasn’t] traditionally struggled” with diverse recruitment due to the fact that RAs have traditionally been comprised of a diverse group of University students, North said. HRL does not formally collect demographic data of RA staff but North is working to attempt to begin demographic data collection.

When asked about how Honor can effectively recruit a more diverse support officer pool under a long-standing reputation as being an elitist organization, Warshaw reiterated that active and broad recruitment throughout the University community would be the best way to dispel notions of elitism. 

“As long as you’re just sort of casting as wide of a net as possible, then it sort of breaks down that argument of being elitist,” Warshaw said. 

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