In its second meeting of the 2021-2022 term Sunday night, the Honor committee passed an amendment which will require the Honor chair to publish by-law amendments within three weeks after the committee votes for the changes to go into effect. The committee also discussed redefining vice-chair positions.
“By-Law Amendment on Responsibilities of the Chair" was first proposed to the committee April 11 by Thirumalai Achintya, Honor representative and graduate College student, and unanimously passed Sunday with a vote of 17-0. Two-thirds of the committee’s 25 members needed to vote for the reform for it to be enacted, and 17 members were present at the meeting, just above the required two-thirds needed.
The background section of the document proposing the amendment references the actions of the previous committee, which passed only one bylaw amendment during the spring. However, while the amendment was approved Feb. 14, the 2020-2021 committee — chaired by Ryan Keane — did not publicly publish the updated bylaws by the end of its term March 31.
The amendment removed the failure to pay rent as an example of stealing from the bylaws, though this will not limit the Committee’s ability to hear cases related to rent in the future. The February amendment came after several students who lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic last spring said their landlords threatened them with Honor charges if they failed to pay rent by a certain date. This caused Honor to revise its policy and stop hearing cases related to rent while the University’s in-person operations were suspended due to the pandemic.
This new bylaw seeks to eliminate the gray area regarding when updated bylaws must be shared with the public after being passed by the committee.
“In the aftermath of passing amendments to the Honor bylaws, the chair should be bound to publish the updated document on the Honor website within a set period of time,” the amendment proposed Sunday said.
Before Sunday’s amendment was passed, Honor’s bylaws did not compel the chair to publish committee approved bylaw changes within a certain period of time. This amendment will add language to bylaw section VII.A and give the Chair “three weeks from the date on which the amendment was, by vote of the Committee, intended to go into effect to publish the changes.”
If a “necessary delay” occurs, the Chair will be required to update the committee on the amendment’s status after three weeks from the date of the “intended enactment has elapsed.”
Following the unanimous vote to pass the bylaw change, the committee discussed a proposal to redefine vice-chair positions.
The executive committee currently has five executive committee positions — the chair, vice chair for investigations, vice chair for hearings, vice chair for education and vice chair for community relations. Third-year College student Andy Chambers, third-year Commerce student Margaret Regnery, second-year College student Gabrielle Bray, third-year Architecture student Caitlin Kreinheder and third-year Commerce student Jack Stone hold the positions for the 2021-2022, respectively.
Executive committee members are generally undergraduate students because these positions require a significant time commitment and previous experience with Honor.
“Several graduate members of the Committee have since raised issue that nearly 1/3 — 32 percent — of this University is made up of graduate or professional students, but there is scarcely a position on the executive board well suited for a graduate student,” the proposal read. “The lack of graduate representation on the executive committee has far-reaching implications.”
Two proposed solutions were suggested. The first of which could be completed with a bylaw reform and would change the title and responsibilities of the vice chair for education into the vice chair for the undergraduate community and would reform the vice chair for community relations position into the vice chair for the graduate community.
Lucien Mirra, Honor representative and graduate Education student, said that having a vice chair position specifically for graduate students would also increase communication with faculty members. He said that graduate students work more closely with faculty on dissertations and often work as graduate assistants or teaching assistants.
“I think that's one of the advantages of its position of the … vice chair for graduate community is that that could maybe kind of liaise directly with the [Faculty Advisory Committee] subcommittee chair and really work together,” Mirra said.
With the proposal for one vice-chair who interacts with the graduate community and another who interacts with undergraduates, concerns were raised about how Honor would interface with organizations who have both undergraduate and graduate members.
“For example, like [Honor] giving money to [Multicultural Student Association] to support them with accommodations during Ramadan, how does something like that get done when that's an organization that could fall into either undergraduate or graduate,” Kreinheder said.
A second idea consisted of adding an additional vice chair position to the executive committee to specifically interface with the graduate community.
The meeting concluded with committee members voting unanimously on an informal Zoom poll to aim to pursue reforming vice-chair positions in future meetings.