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The Daily Tar Heel

Students Mull Honor Court Ideas

Officials from the student attorney general's office heard the perspectives of about 10 students who voiced concerns and suggestions about the Honor Code and the Honor Court.

The forum, organized by the Cobb and Joyner residence hall housing staffs, meant to serve as a follow-up to a February forum led by Chancellor James Moeser.

Melinda Manning, a housing department official and the organizer of Wednesday's forum, said the discussion aimed to share the opinions of regular students as opposed to just the opinions of those directly involved in the court. "At the previous forum, mainly students connected with the system attended," she said. "That gave us the idea for this one -- to get what normal students really think."

The Honor Court is a student-run judicial system composed of members of the student attorney general's office. The system came under fire last semester when several students in a Computer Science 120 class were convicted of academic cheating for doing group work on a programming assignment.

Several Honor Court members, including Student Attorney General Brad Newcomb, Judicial Program Assistant Emily Thorn and Graduate Student Attorney General Valerie Pruvost, attended the forum to listen to students' suggestions. Newcomb asked the participants how to get students interested in and better educated about the Honor Code. "How do we get the average student to get involved with something that doesn't impact their daily life?" he asked.

The students gave suggestions for increasing interest, such as holding more forums, producing fliers and providing more information about the court at C-TOPS.

Participants also said it is the faculty's obligation to educate students about violations of the Honor Code. "I think the teacher should specify the gray areas," one audience member said. "They should say, 'You can do this, you can't do that.'"

Newcomb agreed, but also said professors cannot describe every possible situation. He said students should consult professors or Honor Court members if they find themselves in a questionable situation.

Students also expressed concern about the competency of the Honor Court members who judge cases. "I don't think students are responsible enough to decide stuff like other people's academic careers," one student said.

This concern prompted Newcomb and Thorn to describe the Honor Court process and how the system works. Newcomb said the main goal of the Honor Court is to provide a just outcome for the students.

Students attending the forum said they appreciated the accessibility of the Honor Court members. Junior Sarkari Sanders said, "I don't really think the Honor Court needs to be reformed because they are already open to suggestions."

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