Student Senate passed three of the four Honor Code amendments brought to the floor during the May 9 meeting but voted against the sixth proposed amendment. Respondents will continue to be referred to as either “guilty” or “not guilty” following their Honor Board cases.
Prior to the vote, Associate Dean of the College Lori Haslem encouraged Senate to remember that the amendments came out of a lengthy and deliberate process.
“That report came out of a really long and careful process with lots of work and lots of interviews and thinking, and so I guess it’s just kind of a plea from me also that when you think about voting that you remember, I don’t want to start sounding like I’m lobbying up here, but I want you to remember that these proposals that are coming out aren’t just the work of some little committee somewhere,” Haslem said.
The amendment in question was voted down by a slim margin, as it received eight yay votes, 11 nay votes and three abstentions.
There were arguments both for and against the amendment, as a five-minute period was given to senators who wished to comment on a particular amendment before the body voted.
Senator junior Robert Turski supported the measure as a step towards reducing the amount of legalistic language present in the Honor Code. Turski stated that because the college is a learning institution, the amendment should be passed.
“There is a good argument to be said that we’re not members of the legal government, we’re not working for the government, we’re not working with the law. Instead, we’re paying to be taught something, so I think that we go to this college accepting certain responsibilities and I think that’s why this is such a good word for this. This isn’t about breaking the law of the country. This is about not holding our end of the bargain,” Turski said.
Senator senior Alex Uzarowicz countered by saying that the Honor Code was responsible for holding students up to a near legal standard, in that academic honesty can in many cases represent academic theft.
“Since we are well-known as an institution that publishes [in] journals … let’s say that a student does publish their work and is later found to be plagiarizing somebody else’s work. That certainly has legal repercussions because that is stealing someone’s rights, someone’s own work,” Uzarowicz said.
Furthermore, Uzarowicz said, changing the titles the respondents receive post-trial does not affect the gravity of their transgression.
“So I really don’t believe that changing it from guilty to ‘accepted responsibility’ will make such a big difference … my reasoning is that if you steal someone else’s work, that is infringing on their copyrights. I know that we’re not as serious as a publication or a newspaper, but we should still hold students to that standard,” Uzarowicz said.
The process has serious repercussions for the accused and should therefore maintain serious terms, senator sophomore Payton Rose.
“I think legalistic language is very important. It keeps the system serious,” Rose said. “As I’ve mentioned before, the fact is academic dishonesty is a very huge deal to be accused of, and any sort of proceedings should be gone forth with that sort of legal standard. Changing this to ‘not responsible’ … doesn’t feel like it’s being taken as seriously, and this is something I want to be taken very seriously.”
All of the other amendments were passed with varying degrees of support.
The third amendment was passed unanimously, the fourth was passed by a 12 to nine margin and the fifth passed with 11 votes in support, eight votes against and two abstentions.
Haslem stressed that the amendments were aimed at creating a Code that is in line with the desires of the faculty, who look to ensure that there is an educational message at the root of the system. The ultimate goal is increasing faculty and student buy-in so that the Code is used and understood uniformly by all members of the college.
“We want to make sure faculty buy into the Code, and if they don’t, we risk that the Code may not stand over time,” Haslem said.