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Honor Committee plans Dorm Talks and finals week initiatives

Dorm Talks will be reintroduced for the first time since the pandemic

<p>The Committee will implement the first “finals push” event this week when they will host a free Chick-Fil-A lunch for students at 1515 Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.&nbsp;</p>

The Committee will implement the first “finals push” event this week when they will host a free Chick-Fil-A lunch for students at 1515 Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. 

The Honor Committee convened Sunday to discuss various options for "finals pushes" — the efforts the Committee makes to support students during finals season. The Committee plans to begin by  hosting an informative session about the Honor System for students with free Chick-Fil-A Friday. The Committee said they also plan to consistently distribute school supplies, snacks and energy drinks in University libraries throughout finals season. Additionally, the Committee deliberated on options for Dorm Talks on artificial intelligence, which will serve to inform new students about the ethical use of AI and gain better insight into up-and-coming perspectives.

With finals week approaching, the Committee will hold several “finals push” events, which they have offered consistently in the past. Laura Howard, chair of the Committee and third-year College student, said that the annual events are designed to support students during finals season — when people might risk missing meals due to spending time studying. 

“If people are struggling to find meals because they’ve been in the library, we’ll drop off food there,” Howard said. “It’s our initiative to help people out during such a stressful time, so we try to have all of the schools [host] events.” 

The Committee will implement the first “finals push” event this week when they will host a free Chick-Fil-A lunch for students at 1515 Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Beyond providing students with a break from studying, the lunch exists to increase the Committee’s visibility to the University community by providing a presentation to students about the Committee’s structure and the multi-sanction system. 

The Committee made a significant transition from a single-sanction system to a multi-sanction system in July 2023, shifting away from the previous practice of imposing only suspension as punishment for Honor violations. Under the new framework, students found guilty of violations may face a variety of sanctions, ranging from educational and rehabilitative measures to more punitive consequences such as suspension or expulsion. 

Following the switch, the Committee has undertaken several initiatives aimed at gathering increased student feedback on the system, including Honor Week which ran from Feb. 4 to Feb. 9. The week was composed of a series of community-wide events aimed to enhance understanding and awareness of the multi-sanction system among students. 

Will Hancock, vice chair for the undergraduate community and second-year College student, said that the Friday event should specifically focus on educating students about the multi-sanction change, as he has noticed gaps in student understanding of the multi-sanction system. 

“I found, at least in educating [during] Honor Week, there is not a lot of knowledge on what the multi-sanction system is actually made up of,” Hancock said. “ I think that's super important to like the philosophy of our new system … so baking that into hopefully these conversations.” 

The Committee will continue to outline conversation starters and goals for the “finals push” discussion. They plan on distributing snacks and energy drinks to University libraries throughout finals season, and opening a tab for Grit Coffee as well — though plans beyond the Friday Chick-Fil-A event have not yet been finalized.

In another effort to enhance student outreach and introduce incoming students to the Honor System, the Committee will also reintroduce dorm talks in the Fall 2024 semester. These informative and conversational sessions about the Honor system — traditionally hosted by Honor in first-year residence halls — will return for the first time since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. In a memo Howard wrote for the Committee that outlines the planning and intent behind the program, it notes that the talks were a regular occurrence, but discontinued due to quarantine requirements. 

Dorm Talks will consist of a roughly thirty-minute session, beginning with a presentation delivered by members of the Committee, followed by an interactive discussion with first-year students. 

The memo outlines that the Dorm Talks will also focus on the intersection of AI and academic integrity. Through the discussions, the Committee said they intend to collect more student opinions about the use of AI in academic settings. According to Howard, student perspectives regarding AI can help the Committee evaluate policies moving forward — a practice that Howard seeks to employ more generally. 

“We can use [student feedback] to inform what Honor does in the future,” Howard said. “If a bunch of students say that it’s totally fair to use AI to create an outline for a paper, then that’s something that we should be aware of — we can speak to faculty about it and inform them.”

Implications of and policy options for AI have also been a central concern for the Committee in recent years. According to the memo, Dorm Talks will also draw insight from the Generative AI in Teaching and Learning Task Force — a University task force created in March 2023, designed to understand the implications of AI use through faculty input. GENAI is staffed by 4 faculty members, two research assistants and the Committee chair.

Howard said that the Committee will also aim to engage transfer and graduate students in these talks, saying that they hope to find a way to engage with all new students.

“We’ll also be doing some interviews with transfer students as well,” Howard said. “We want to incorporate all incoming students.”

For transfer students, the memo said the Committee intends to organize events hosted in Newcomb Hall. However, deliberations are ongoing regarding the most effective approach to engage graduate students, who do not all share a common residential space like incoming undergraduates.

Hang Nguyen, graduate College Rep., said that in-person orientation events are options for reaching the graduate community — because graduate students may engage in more independent research and have less opportunity for exposure to Honor, conversations during events can serve as a similar opportunity.

“If we plan [the talks] the right way, we can really get the word out about Honor to populations that don’t interact a lot with Honor, by virtue of not really focusing my classes, but on [graduate] research,” Nguyen said. 

The Committee will continue to discuss plans and logistics for Dorm Talks, while also working on other “finals push” initiatives, as representatives are tasked with reaching out to their respective schools individually. 

The Committee adjourned at 7:45 p.m. They will reconvene Sunday for the final public session of the Spring 2024 semester. 

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