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The Daily Tar Heel

COSC Discusses Honor System Changes

Group will submit report to Moeser

COSC members discussed recommendations created by a task force this summer, which released a report proposing various changes to the student judicial system.

Among the suggestions are proposals to change the standard for being held accountable in Honor Court cases from "beyond a reasonable doubt" to "clear and convincing evidence" and to institute an "XF" grade for students who fail a class due to academic dishonesty.

The committee -- composed of students, faculty and administrators charged with reviewing the student judicial system -- will create a parallel report with suggestions of its own to be submitted to Chancellor James Moeser by the end of the semester. The group will submit a preliminary report by Oct. 14.

COSC member and Student Body Vice President Aaron Hiller said that the committee's focus should not be on creating the report but that the report should reflect changes being made by the committee.

Committee members will break into groups to study the task force recommendations in depth and create their own recommendations. But in Tuesday's meeting, the group discussed the two topics they said would be most controversial.

Carey Richter, chairwoman of the Student Affairs Committee for Student Congress, said that most students do not understand the standard of proof and that Congress will be reluctant to approve the change if constituents do not understand it.

Dave Gilbert, assistant dean of students, suggested the possibility of setting different standards of proof for academic and conduct cases. It is more important to change the standard for conduct cases because in academic cases there is often more hard evidence, he said.

Stephen Weiss, former COSC chairman, said some Honor Court staff might be confused over what the standard of proof exactly means rather than having a specific problem with it. Many interpret it as "beyond any possibility of doubt," he said.

Committee members also discussed the possibility of instituting an XF grade that would indicate on a student's transcript that the student failed because of academic dishonesty. The grade could be restored to an F if the student chose to participate in an ethics class.

Weiss said he is concerned that the XF grade might be a violation of the Federal Education Rights of Privacy Act but that the University's legal counsel assured him that is not the case because students' transcripts already are private.

He said participation in an ethics class is not a violation of the act as long as enrollment in the class is open to anyone and attendance is not a sign that the student has been held accountable of an Honor Court violation.

But Weiss expressed doubt that many students would voluntarily enroll in the class.

At the meeting, committee members said they hope to be more proactive this year and educate students and faculty about the role of the Honor Court and the judicial system, Gilbert said.

He said, "We want to create a shared understanding of what honor is on campus."

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