Campus / Honor Code Review / News / January 19, 2011

Faculty discuss Honor Code

Due to unfinished business at the first January faculty meeting, a second meeting was held on Jan. 17. Shortly after 4 p.m. the meeting was called to order but fell short of quorum. As such, neither of the two resolutions could be debated.

Associate Dean of the College Lori Haslem, on behalf of the Academic Standing Committee (ASC), called for faculty input on how to better teach academic integrity. The issue grew out of the inordinate number of Honor Board cases in which the respondent has pleaded ignorance to the standards enforced by the Honor Board. Some of the proposals circulated included explicitly including academic integrity in the guidelines for First-Year Preceptorial. “It seems to be that FP has to carry the burden,” professor of Psychology Tim Kasser said. But he went on to say that it would also require a continued effort throughout the curriculum. President Roger Taylor reinforced this later point, saying, “Rather than saying it’s FP’s job, it’s the faculty’s job.” The faculty, for the most part, supported FP focusing on the subject.

There was a brief discussion on the Honor Code in general. Associate professor of Environmental Studies Peter Schwartzman commented on the discrepancies to which different professors enforce the Honor Code. He argued that it sends a message to the students that “it’s whatever individual professors feel like doing with their time.” Dean of the College Lawrence Breitborde reiterated Schwartzman’s point about uneven application and added that there are “not many descriptions of what the Honor Code is; rather a list of things you should not do…We can have the ‘don’t do’ list too, but we need to have a positive statement of what intellectual honesty is.” Taylor suggested that the reason some faculty hesitate to invoke the Honor Board is the harshness of the punishments.

Haslem noted that some peer institutions give lesser punishments for first offenses and to underclassmen. Newer faculty members Visiting Assistant Professor of Mathematics Mercredi Chasman and Assistant Professor of Computer Science Jaime Spacco said that the systems at their previous institutions were similar to the one Haslem described and voiced support. In the end, Haslem called for a straw-poll vote for support on the measure of a summer tutorial, with which the faculty overwhelmingly agreed. They hope this measure, in conjunction with changes to FP, will reduce the number of Honor Board cases.

Maxwell Galloway-Carson

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