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Faculty adviory committee recommends more education on honor system

Educating faculty members about the nuances of the student-run honor system is the first major goal to emerge from the faculty honor system advisory committee.

The newly formed committee met for the first time Friday to discuss how the members could best aid the honor system and increase faculty involvement.

Initiatives proposed in the meeting included supporting outreach efforts from honor system leaders, who are currently creating educational videos about how the court works, and planning visits to academic department meetings.

Jan Boxill, chairwoman of the faculty, said she has found in her research that many faculty members don’t fully understand the Honor Court unless they have direct experience with it.

“So much of what I’m getting in emails is folklore,” said Boxill, who requested feedback on the system through surveys.

She said the committee — which has been dormant for years — allows five faculty members the chance to advise the student honor system leaders and increase faculty involvement.

Donna LeFebvre, chairwoman of the committee, said appointing liaisons to the honor system in every department would also be a step toward increasing faculty involvement in the system.

These liaisons would be able to answer questions about the Honor Court and give advice about proceedings, she said.

This would alleviate situations in which faculty members might not know if they should file a case, she said.

Isaac Unah, an associate professor of political science and member of the committee, suggested that the representatives who explain the honor system to academic departments bring a faculty committee member to add legitimacy.

“One of the charges of this committee is to educate the faculty about the Honor Court,” he said.

Boxill said she has heard anecdotes from faculty members who find that their lack of understanding of how the court works deters them from utilizing it.

Reporting and detecting plagiarism — one of the major reasons why the system is under review — was also discussed at the meeting.

Kelly Hogan, a biology professor and member of the committee, said she found that when she put a particular plagiarism case through the court system, she was asked to recommend a sentence.

Hogan said she was unaware of what types of punishments exist for different cases of plagiarism, which she added are not always black and white.

About eight students involved with the honor system attended the meeting, including Student Attorney General Jon McCay and Honor Court Chairwoman Michelle Healy.

Boxill noted at the start of the meeting that the group will exist long after the system reform takes place, while there is a short-term task force charged with considering changes to the system.

The advisory committee plans to meet again in December.

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