But we, the students, also need to form our own assessment. Or at the very least, we should start talking about where we want to go from here.
We need to ask how we want our Honor Code enforced - whether the system that tried those 24 students this fall is the same system you'd trust with your own academic fate. And we need to ask ourselves exactly what "honor" means to us today.
We can consider just making our system simpler.
At UVa., the review panel recommended keeping its "single sanction," which automatically expels any student convicted of cheating. Furthermore, any witness who doesn't turn cheaters in immediately is equally guilty and gets the same punishment.
But I think we're moving in the opposite direction here. In fact, UNC recently did away with its own "rat clause," which requires students to snitch on their classmates. And systems that are simpler aren't necessarily more fair.
Maybe what we need is simply to have our system be more visible - better understood and acknowledged by the students. But because of University rules and, more importantly, federal law, disciplinary hearings at UNC must be held behind closed doors.
In general, unless the student requests that the hearing be open or that the record be disclosed, no information about that hearing can be given to the general public. The result of this is that the rest of us have only second-hand knowledge of how the honor system works.
For the sake of discussion, consider this possible solution. In the real world outside UNC, everyone is invested in the legal system through jury duty. In fact, it's jury duty that makes us trust that convictions handed down in court are (to use Al Gore's favorite phrase) "the will of the people."
What if we had jury duty for honor cases at UNC? Like in the real world, it would need to be mandatory, and students would need some sort of orientation on how our student laws work before they could hear a case. It sounds like a hassle, but consider the benefits: Many UNC students would have the opportunity to serve, giving a better understanding within the student body of how the system works.
We might also have more confidence that the system was ultimately being run by average students, rather than a group of self-selected Honor Court appointees - a group that DTH columnist Ashley Stephenson disdainfully described as "college kids in grownup clothes."
But then again, maybe that's a bad idea. It would mean that this small-world campus might get a little smaller; you might meet somebody only to realize that you convicted him or her last year for plagiarism.
Or maybe you have an even better idea? Even if you just want to talk, there are students and faculty who want to listen. To begin an ongoing discussion about the honor system, the Student Advisory Committee to the Chancellor is holding an informal open forum at 7 p.m. today in Paul Green Theater.
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If you can't make it, don't worry: There will be an even bigger discussion at the beginning of next semester. If you don't go to a discussion, consider sending a quick note to your Student Congress representative or to anybody involved in the honor process.
Don't let others decide what happens for you, because ultimately the system belongs to all of us. Make your own decisions, and then make your voice heard.
Rudy Kleysteuber is a junior biology
major from McLean, Va., who swears he has
neither given nor received unauthorized aid on this editorial. He can be reached at