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UNC’s Honor Court’s faculty advisory committee’s return a success so far

The University’s faculty advisory committee to the honor system has garnered nothing but praise since its official return to UNC on Oct 3.

Faculty and students have expressed approval of the committee and describe its revival as long overdue.

The new committee is similar to one in place at the University of Virginia, but honor systems at public universities feature different levels of faculty involvement.

Sociology professor Andrew Perrin, who has been involved with the honor system reform, said he hasn’t seen the committee used in his 11 years at UNC.

“It will be a positive influence on the system because it will bring faculty back into the process and give them a sense of investment,” he said.

“It will provide an additional level of accountability for the system to make sure it is running appropriately.”

The committee’s revival responds to a call for action by the educational policy committee’s Sept. 28 resolution.

The resolution drew from an honor system report that revealed faculty discontent.

“There’s always been a provision for the committee in the honor code (for the faculty advisory committee), but it’s just been dormant,” said chairwoman of the faculty Jan Boxill.

All members accepted Boxill’s invitations.

The committee’s chairwoman is political science senior lecturer Donna LeFebvre.

Other members are biology senior lecturer Kelly Hogan, French senior lecturer Valerie Pruvost, political science associate professor Isaac Unah and computer science professor Kevin Jeffay.

Boxill said she is reinstating it to provide students with expertise and advice on educational sanctions.

Student Attorney General Jon McCay said the faculty advisory committee is a positive step.

“They will be able to address barriers that exist between faculty and the system,” McCay said.

But he said the committee will not disrupt the student-led system.

“They won’t be involved in the adjudication process. They are clearly defined as an external advisory committee.”

‘There isn’t one right way’

UVa.’s Honor Committee features a similar faculty advisory committee.

UVa.’s advisory committee is a public forum open to all faculty. It typically includes about 10 professors with strong opinions about the honor system, said Ann Marie McKenzie, chairwoman of the school’s Honor Committee.

Similar to UNC, UVa.’s faculty advisory committee is not involved in the adjudication process but offers advice on relations between faculty and the student-run Honor Committee.

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“They don’t overstep any boundaries because we’ve put them in a position where they can only give advice and can’t do anything substantive with our honor proceedings,” McKenzie said.

But not all honor systems are independent of faculty influence.

The University of Pennsylvania uses a system in which faculty hold a large role in trial decisions and punishment.

When a professor reports academic misconduct, the Office of Student Conduct decides the guilt and punishment. A student can accept or appeal the decision.

If appealed, the case goes to a hearing panel consisting of three professors and two students for cases of academic integrity.

“Sometimes at Penn, students aren’t involved in punishments and decisions,” said Aaron Roth, co-chairman of the school’s Honor Council.

“We benefit from the perspectives of professors and students,” he said.

But Roth said hefty faculty involvement isn’t the best option for every university.

“There isn’t one right way to do it because it’s important to consider the culture of a school,” he said.

“I do think that faculty benefit the system, but I’m not going to say every school should do it.”

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