Opinion editor Maggie Zellner sat down with outgoing Deputy Student Attorney General John Harris to get his perspective on all things honor system, particularly faculty concerns.
Daily Tar Heel: Let’s say a professor feels wronged because the honor system found a student not guilty and the professor is sure the student is guilty. How does this compare to the harm that could be done if an innocent student were found guilty of a violation?
John Harris: The purpose of a justice system is not to ensure that all who are guilty are found guilty, but rather to ensure that none who are innocent are found guilty.
DTH: So what do these professors mean when they say they’ve been harmed by the honor system?
JH: Well, there’s an issue of the knowledge differential between the faculty and students. Let’s say a professor says you plagiarized and you say you didn’t, and the honor system sides with you. You can see where the faculty member is coming from if you view it as a faculty-student conflict.
But really, there’s a faculty member, a student and an independent third party that has been designated by the University to resolve the conflict — that’s the honor system.