DTH: There seem to be a lot of faculty, or at least a vocal minority, who don’t really understand what you do. What would you say to them?
ACG: The most basic thing to understand is that we deal with the Honor Code violations that are reported to us, and we process these cases from beginning to end. We represent students and we represent the University. We try to get to a mutually agreeable outcome, an outcome that we think is the truth about what happened.
DTH: And then what? What do you hope to see happen after you’ve gotten to the truth, or some approximation of it?
ACG: The process has several goals. One of them is correcting the behavior and using this an educational opportunity — for students to learn from their mistakes and take responsibility for their actions. But it’s also to punish the behavior in line with our sense that the University has been wronged and the offense needs to be punished. Not just to correct the behavior, but also to prevent it from happening again.
DTH: Why does it take so long? Is it fair to say you guys are just trying to be as thorough and as fair as possible to both sides?
ACG: Yeah, I think that’s reasonable. There are several steps in the process. Where I think it could be shortened is the amount of time between those steps.
DTH: Does every student who is accused of a violation have to go through this whole process?
ACG: No. We don’t want every single student whose case gets reported — whether there are grounds for it or not — to have to go through our process. It’s a cumbersome and difficult process.
DTH: So that’s where the Student Attorney General comes in?
ACG: Right. There needs to be a sort of gatekeeper — which is the Student Attorney General — who decides whether or not there are grounds for charging a case.
DTH: And what happens next?
ACG: At that point, there has to be somebody who explains to the students what the process is. Because they’re usually as clueless as anybody is about the way our system operates and what types of decisions they should make.
DTH: And that’s just the first step?
ACG: Yep. A week can pass between when a case is reported and when it’s charged. And if there are scheduling issues, it can take another week to have the meeting with the case’s managing associate. And then we deliberately wait at least two weeks after that to have the hearing, in order to make sure students are able to prepare for their case.
DTH: So does anyone get paid for this?
ACG: I’ll get a stipend. It’s about $200 a month. Most of it will probably go toward buying food for meetings and supplies. But the counsels work for free.
DTH: And how many hours a week do you expect to put in? It sounds like a full-time job.
ACG: I can see myself working between 30 and 40 hours a week next year. Counsels may work fewer total hours than that, but every time they have a case, they put everything they have into it.
DTH: And they put everything else on hold.
DTH: So, finally, what would you say to students who see the honor system as a police force — who think you’re out to get them? What incentive do they have to support the honor system?
ACG: When you live in a community — and UNC is a community — there’s a sort of code, and you are honorable because you expect everyone around you to also be honorable.
We don’t drink and drive, but not necessarily because we’ll get caught every time or we’ll always hit someone.
We don’t drink and drive because we also expect to be able to walk down the street at night without getting hit by a drunk driver. It’s a pretty basic type of contract.