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Honor Committee discusses community service as potential sanction in new multi-sanction honor system

The committee considered the benefits, supervision and implementation of a community service sanction and announced plans to gather student feedback

At their next meeting, the Committee will discuss how to ensure student compliance with whatever sanctions they may face due to an Honor offense
At their next meeting, the Committee will discuss how to ensure student compliance with whatever sanctions they may face due to an Honor offense

The Honor Committee debated the possibility of community service as a sanction and announced plans to gather student feedback about the new multi-sanction system, including student surveys and scheduling a tentative University-wide town hall for next Monday. The Committee met quorum during the Sunday evening meeting but did not yet vote on these proposals. 

The Honor Committee passed a referendum in March codifying a new multi-sanction system — the first of its kind in the Committee’s history — that will allow for an Honor panel to assign sanctions based on a holistic review of each individual offense. 

Second-year engineering student Rep. Lukas Lehman spoke in favor of a community service sanction. According to Lehman, giving back to the community would allow students to re-engage with the University in constructive ways.

“Doing your sanction means committing yourself to the community of trust,” Lehman said. “Cleaning up the corner, cleaning up Mad Bowl, or working with the community for training makes sense because you are recommitting yourself to the community of trust.” 

The Committee debated how it would supervise community service projects, whether students should choose their own service opportunities to count as honor sanctions as well as the timespan of the projects. 

Rachel Liesegang, vice chair for the undergraduate community and third-year College student, emphasized how it is important to ensure that a community service sanction would mandate action beyond a charged student’s existing engagements. 

“I think we should provide organizations [to volunteer with], and I think we should certainly accept student proposals, but I also don't think we should be as relaxed as just saying they can choose whatever organization they want,” Liesgang said. “If they're just going to keep volunteering for [an organization they already work with], they're not actually going through any rehabilitation.”

Although limited guidelines for the sanction will be listed in the bylaws, a small group of Committee members led by Carson Breus, vice chair for sanctions and second-year College student, will create an unofficial and evolving document — referred to as the Sanction Guidelines — separate from the bylaws to provide examples of possible community service. 

In addition to discussing the community service sanction, Nishita Ghanate, vice chair for investigations and third-year College student, announced plans to have Honor representatives send surveys to as many students as possible in their respective schools. Survey questions would allow students to provide feedback about what Honor’s new multi-sanction system should look like. To increase engagement, the Committee is considering raffling off rewards like gift cards for survey respondents. 

“We would like to highly encourage all Committee members to send it to their respective schools,” Ghanate said. “That way, we can get as much feedback as possible about what restorative justice and the sanctions should look like.”

Liesegang also announced tentative plans for a University-wide town hall next Monday from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. She said that details are not yet confirmed, and the location is to be determined, but the meeting would provide a chance for students to question representatives and air their concerns and hopes for the multi-sanction system.

At their next meeting, the Committee will discuss how to ensure student compliance with whatever sanctions they may face due to an Honor offense. One of the proposed measures would be a hold — a temporary block on course registration — placed on a student’s SIS account until the sanctions are completed. 

According to Hamza Aziz, Honor Committee Chair and third-year College student, provided an example of how such a hold could incentivize students to complete a sanction. 

“Let’s say we levy a sanction of writing an apology letter and then we say there’s a registration hold placed on your account until that apology letter is deemed completed by the Vice Chair of Sanctions,” said third-year College student and Chair of Honor Hamza Aziz. “It is just something that exists to perhaps raise motivation for the time we’ve pushed on the sanction.”

The Honor Committee will reconvene April 30 at 7 p.m. in the Trial Room for their final in-person meeting of the semester. 

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article stated that the Sanctioning Guidelines would be voted on by the entire Committee. The guidelines will not be voted on by the entire Committee and the article has been updated to reflect this change. 

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article also misstated that the Sanctioning Guidelines would be an official document — similar to the bylaws and constitution — that required convicted students to utilize. The document will actually be evolving and unofficial. The article has been updated to reflect these changes. 

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