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Honor Committee discontinues the Alternative Sanction Working Group

Working Group for considering a multi-sanction system will not be renewed for another term

<p>Currently, if an Honor violation proceeds to a hearing and is met with a guilty verdict that student is faced with expulsion from the University.</p>

Currently, if an Honor violation proceeds to a hearing and is met with a guilty verdict that student is faced with expulsion from the University.

The Honor Committee underwent a change to its structure over the summer, choosing not to renew the Alternative Sanction Working Group for the 2019-2020 academic year.

The Honor Committee — which includes subcommittees that operate yearly and working groups that are commissioned by term to focus on more specific and time-sensitive goals — typically dissolves its working committees when their objectives are reached.

The Alternative Sanction Working group was active between May 2018 and March 2019. It acted primarily as a way for the Honor Committee to consider how having a multi-sanction system — a system in which a guilty verdict does not automatically result in expulsion — would function at a hearing given the Committee’s current features, including the Conscientious Retraction, Informed Retraction and Single Sanction. Conscientious Retraction allows students to admit to an honor offense before it comes under suspicion and thus avoid expulsion. Informed Retraction allows students to admit to an honor offense before their case proceeds to a hearing and receive a two-semester suspension. Currently, if a case proceeds to a hearing and is met with a guilty verdict that student is faced with expulsion.

Lillie Lyon, a fourth-year College student and chair of the Honor Committee, said that the Alternative Sanction Working Group was intended to provide the Committee with insight on a multi-sanction system.

“The Working Group achieved that goal, so we decided not to renew it for another term, and instead channel our energy into other projects,” Lyon said. “Among these is the upcoming Popular Assembly, which will provide great opportunities for us to discuss the current state of the Honor System and garner input on the Honor System from the student body.”

During a University-wide referendum in the spring of 2016, the student body nearly voted to amend Honor’s constitution to allow for a multi-sanction system in favor of the current single sanction policy, but the measure failed to receive the required 60 percent majority of the total vote share. Honor’s current adjudication process is not considered to be multi-sanction as a guilty verdict after a trial has begun can only result in a student’s dismissal from the University.

In December 2018, the Committee considered developing a non-binding, ranked poll to gauge community interest in a multi-sanction system. This poll would present four options, three different multi-sanction systems and one single sanction, which is the current system. Community members would rank their preferences, and if one of the alternative options garnered a simple majority of votes, the Committee would be obligated to respond in some manner. The Working Group considered the poll, but it was never referred to the Committee for a vote.

“This decision [to disband the Working Group] was made for a number of reasons, including time constraints, concerns regarding the purpose of the Working Group, and concerns regarding how to appropriately craft and present such a poll in order to achieve a result that was (1) true to the opinions of the student body, (2) specific enough as to provide a meaningful result and (3) not so specific that the student body would be unprepared to vote in an informed manner,” Lyon said.

Honor support officers could not be reached for comment on the decision to remove the working group.

Changes within the support officer pool were also added this year. Instead of support officers being recruited, selected and trained to serve in all three pools as advisors, counsel, and educators at the same time, they will now be asked to serve in only one of those pools.

“The goal is, primarily, two-fold — to increase support officers’ knowledge and experience in their given roles and to increase engagement from students who may be interested in serving in one particular role but not all roles,” Lyon said. “We think that it will encourage more students to get involved and allow our support officers to get more extensive training and experience.”

This division of roles will allow officers to become more experienced and knowledgeable, so that they can better serve their separate roles, according to Lyon. She is hopeful that the separation of the officer pools will help with recruitment.

“We're…hoping that we'll get people who maybe weren't interested in Honor before when they had to serve in all four roles, or…when that role was much more multifaceted,” said Lyon. 

Lyon said the split will also aid in the retention of new members.

“Historically, people who were interested in education across their role were so focused on case processing that they kind of got lost, but now we're hoping to pull those people back in,” Lyon said.

In addition, the Honor Committee has added co-chairs for recruitment and selections. The Executive Committee — a standing subcommittee comprised of the Honor chair and four vice chairs — appointed Kyle Ding and second-year College student Schuyler Guare as recruitment co-chairs and second-year College student Andy Chambers and second-year College student Charlotte Paulussen as selections co-chairs. During the recruitment and selection process, these new positions will be tasked with clearly explaining the three pools to help prospective support officers better understand the roles they are able to serve.

Historically, Honor’s recruitment and selections processes have been run by senior support officers, who are primarily tasked with training the new class of support officers each fall, according to Lyon.

“We created the recruitment co-chairs and selection co-chair positions in an effort to alleviate our senior support officers’ workload and ensure that, when selecting support officers for leadership positions, we are selecting them specifically for the role in which they are expected to serve,” Lyon said. “At this time, we do not foresee any additional large-scale changes to the structure of the Honor Committee or the support officer pool.”

During a meeting Sept. 1, the impeachment amendment voted on and passed last spring had to be removed from the Constitution due to low voter turnout in the spring election. Although the amendment passed in the spring with 89 percent of students voting in favor, less than 10 percent of the total student body voted in favor. According to Honor bylaws, at least 10 percent of the student body must vote in favor on the issue for an amendment to be passed.

Correction: This article previously misstated that Honor support officers could not speak to the press, and has been changed to reflect that support officers did not return a request for comment. In addition, the article stated that at least 10 percent of the student body must vote for an amendment to be passed. It has been changed to reflect that at least 10 percent of the student body must vote in favor of an amendment for it to be passed.