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Honor Committee reports two guilty verdicts for last semester

December marks five months of the newly implemented multi-sanction system in action

Of the three hearings held in this time frame, Honor found two students guilty and another two students not guilty.
Of the three hearings held in this time frame, Honor found two students guilty and another two students not guilty.

The Honor Committee found two students guilty in cases reported between May 12 and Dec. 17 according to a report shared from Hamza Aziz, Committee chair and fourth-year College student. Aziz also provided updates on the implementation of the new multi-sanction Honor system and initiatives undertaken by the Committee throughout the semester to aid the new system.

From May 12 to Dec. 17, 27 reports were filed with the Committee, with 11 currently under investigation. Nine students filed an Informed Retraction, with three Informed Retractions filed prior to May 12. Another two students filed a Conscientious Retraction. 

An Informed Retraction allows an accused student to take responsibility for an Honor offense by admitting the offense to all affected parties and agreeing to make amends with the Community of Trust through specific sanctions. A Conscientious Retraction allows a student to admit to an Honor offense before the student has reason to believe they have come under suspicion for committing an Honor offense. 

Two reports are currently proceeding to a hearing, while three other reports have been dropped — the report does not specify further details. One student has left admitting guilt. 

Of the three hearings held in this time frame, the Committee found two students guilty and another two students not guilty. All three hearings held resulted from allegations of cheating on academic assignments or exams. 

In one of these cases, the Committee found the accused student guilty of using ChatGPT generative software to cheat on a closed-book exam. Although the student argued that similarities between their response and ChatGPT generated answers could be explained, the Committee said the two shared significant similarities and the exam did not match the student’s past work. 

Given the rapid rise of similar technologies, the Committee has held extensive discussions over the past year regarding proactive measures and its approach to such cases.

One case reported prior to May 12 is currently undergoing the Contributory Health Impairment process, an analysis determining whether the accused student faced any health impairment including a mental disorder, disease or medical condition that contributed to the honor offense. The CHI process often includes an assessment by a psychiatrist or therapist in order to verify the impairment. Of cases that have undergone the CHI process, none have returned back to a traditional Committee hearing.

In addition to providing case updates, Aziz acknowledged the Committee’s first five months under the new multi-sanction system. Last March, the Committee passed the multi-sanction system referendum which transformed the historic single sanction of suspension to a multi-sanction system — including but not limited to suspension, expulsion, education and amends. 

Aziz attributed the referendum’s success as proof of student advocacy and the power of student self-governance.

“Importantly, this change reinforces a distinctive truth: the Honor System truly lies in its students’ hands,” Aziz said. “We, collectively, can improve and mold it to reflect our shared values.”

The system was formally ratified July 1, and the Committee has been working to ensure that the new system undergoes a smooth implementation process. Given the expansion of possible sanctions, Aziz said the Committee has worked to provide “restorative and proportional outcomes.” 

The report highlights one new sanction, the XYZ Case Study, which takes the viewer through the details of a case from a sanctioned student’s point of view. These case studies are published and are viewable on the Committee’s website.

Aziz also provided a brief overview of initiatives undertaken by the Committee over the course of the past semester. The Committee organized International Student Days, a two-day event that helped to acquaint international students with the Honor system and its developments. The Committee also worked with other student groups to organize finals initiatives such as Well-Being tables providing activities to destress in libraries.

Aziz encouraged students to complete an anonymous survey that will help the Committee gather information about student perception of the honor system and Community of Trust in preparation for “Honor Week” in February. The survey can be found here.


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