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The Daily Tar Heel

Discussions Begin onUNC Court

The temperature outside was frigid, but the cold weather did not stop heated discussion about UNC's Honor Court proceedings from resuming Monday night.

Prompted by recent critiques of the University's student-led judicial system, the Student Advisory Committee to the Chancellor held a sparsely attended open forum at the Paul Green Theatre in hopes of further examining the University's Honor Court.

About 30 students and administrators - including Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Sue Kitchen and members of SACC, the Honor Court and attorney general staffs - discussed awareness, the meaning of honor, students' rights and the possibility of a revamped jury.

Lerissa Rentas, student body vice president and SACC chairwoman, said Monday's discussion is part of an ongoing campaign to reassess the system's effectiveness.

"We want to make sure we represent all students," Rentas said. "This topic is going to be big over the next couple months."

Rentas said the SACC will present a report to Chancellor James Moeser in February detailing important issues raised by faculty and students. She said February also will culminate in a larger open forum in which Moeser and other administrators will hear faculty and student concerns.

But Monday night, students discussed the possibility of having more open hearings and bringing in more students to sit on the Honor Court panel, which consists of trained students who act as a jury would during a hearing.

Senior SACC member Sachin Patel said each student should take pride in the University's Honor Code. But he said it would not be practical to have random students selected to hear cases involving academic integrity.

"You don't want an irresponsible student deciding your fate," Patel said. "If honor is such a big deal, then it should permeate our life to a greater degree. Right now, honor is not a presence at UNC."

In the midst of the student-led discussion, Kitchen joined the forum by asking how one should promote a greater sense of honor at UNC.

After Kitchen's question, sophomore George Tsai said students have to find honor within themselves rather than get it from an outside influence.

"Trying to instill honor in 24,000 students is impossible," Tsai said. "Honor is such an intangible idea."

While students and administrators grappled with UNC's student judicial process, the issue of boosting awareness also emerged in the discussions.

Honor Court member Josh Bosin said UNC's system protected students' rights, but he said more should be done to increase student and faculty understanding of UNC's judicial system.

"We have to raise awareness, period. That's why we're here, and that's why a series of dialogues will continue," Bosin said.

Junior Seth Shore, associate attorney general in charge of outreach, said he is spearheading an effort to make UNC's Honor Court process more accessible.

Shore said a Web site is being developed that outlines the most important aspects of UNC's Honor Court system without using confusing legal terminology.

"We want to be proactive instead of reactive," Shore said.

"I encourage suggestions as we figure out ways to inject (the honor system) into our lives."

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