Campus / Honor Code Review / News / May 11, 2011

Prepping for Honor Code review

Discussion on a review of the Honor Code is becoming reality as Associate Dean Lori Haslem has put together a committee beginning a full-scale review next fall.

The review has two goals: to “get a clear understanding of how members of the campus community understand the purpose and processes of the Code” and to “begin making recommendations about ways to improve or update the Code,” she said.

The committee will not be making changes to the Code, only “collecting information and analyzing it” and making recommendations, Haslem said.

She plans to meet with the committee once before the year is over, but after that “they will … be on their own.” 

The committee will most likely collect opinions about the code through surveys and possibly focus groups next year and begin making recommendations next spring or the following fall.

The committee consists of three faculty members, the TRIO writing coordinator and four students. One of the students and one of the faculty members are currently on the Honor Board.

Some Honor Board members are concerned about the lack of representation of the current Board on the committee.

“Honor Board members have more experience working with the Code and are more familiar the problems with it,” one Honor Board member said.

The member is also concerned about the diversity of opinions represented on the committee.

According to one member, “They haven’t done their background research enough to know that some of the members have similar opinions on things … people who have tried to enact change in the past are not on the committee, which is concerning.”

Haslem said they “tried to represent diversity” within the members of the committee, bringing in people from different backgrounds and roles on campus.

Although the committee “does seem like a fairly diverse group,” an Honor Board member said, “expertise is more important than straight diversity.”

“At its core, it’s not a bad system,” said the Honor Board member, but the committee “would have to do a great job of finding information from experts.” A committee with more Honor Board members would have “less fact finding and more debate of the facts themselves.”

The member agrees with Haslem that a review is necessary. It is important to look at how the Code is working on campus and “constantly try and make the Code better.”

“I don’t necessarily think there’s something wrong with it,” Haslem said. “It’s working fine in so many ways, but any good thing has to be assessed over time.”

Discussion of a review began last year between Haslem and Dean of the College Larry Breitborde.

Haslem, in her time as a faculty member and in her position as a Dean, heard comments from faculty saying the Code was  “not upholding what it was supposed to uphold” and brought up the idea to Breitborde.

Although the Code is reviewed annually by the Academic Standing Committee, it has not been reviewed by the entire campus community in a long time, according to Haslem.

They want to “make sure the Code is written in such a way that everybody is happy signing on to it,” she said. 

“In the late 50s, when the Code was developed, teaching happened a lot differently than it does now,” Haslem said.

“It needs to be adapted to what’s going on currently,” an Honor Board member said.

Some changes that might be made include giving First-Year Preceptorial professors the freedom to teach students who make citation errors rather than bring them to the Board and also making it easier for the board to deviate from standard punishment to take into account specific circumstances, among other things.

Haslem hopes this review “renews our sense of what a core value the Code is to a Knox identity and to a Knox degree.”

“The Code is something that requires buy-in from the whole community,” Haslem said. “This will be an important committee.”

Gretchen Walljasper

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