The forum, organized by the Student Advisory Committee to the Chancellor, was moderated by Chancellor James Moeser and Faculty Council Chairwoman Sue Estroff.
Moeser opened the discussion by saying the Honor Court is a great asset to the University but that its role at UNC needed to be evaluated.
"I think there are some serious questions to be asked about (the Honor Court)," he said. "I think the purpose of this forum is to hear from students and faculty -- is this working? Does the Honor Court work in the year 2001?"
Estroff brought up the idea of having more faculty involved in the Honor Court, perhaps even having a faculty judge preside over a student jury, and separating academic cases from student conduct cases. "There is one group of people on this campus that gives grades -- that's the faculty," she said. "(The Honor Court), in order to work, has to be shared."
Student Attorney General Taylor Lea said she does not think the two types of cases should be handled separately because she said they affect the University community equally. She said while she welcomes more faculty involvement, it is unlikely to happen as shown by the faculty's lack of interest in the past. "We can barely get faculty to sit on (appeals board) meetings," Lea said. "The current level of faculty involvement is so low I think it's ludicrous to assume they would sit in on original hearings."
The issue of trust between the faculty and the Honor Court also was brought to light. "I think many faculty lack confidence in the honor system," said Pamela Conover, a panelist and political science professor. "Not so much lacking confidence in the students themselves but lacking confidence in the Honor Court process. I think it's frustrating for faculty to start the process and then have it dismissed for lack of evidence -- or bringing this to trial and feeling they're on trial themselves."
Estroff said she plans to form a faculty council executive committee to review the Judicial Instrument, which outlines the student judicial process at UNC. She said she hopes to have a proposal in six months. "There will be more faculty involvement," Estroff said. "One thing hasn't changed -- we are committed to a shared system. ... I think we all agree the system is out of balance."
But while there was disagreement on most issues, participants seemed to agree that better communication between the Honor Court and the University is necessary. "I'm a freshman and one of my biggest problems is I don't understand the Honor Court and the Honor Code," said Matt Tepper, a Freshman Focus Council member. "I think about it when I sign, but I don't understand how the court works."
Lea said the Honor Court has ideas about improving communication, including sending a CD-ROM about the Honor Code to all incoming freshmen and testing them online on the material.