The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Sunday May 28th

Faculty proposes new honor system

The honor system intends to hold students accountable for academic discrepancies — but many faculty members see flaws in the system.

Melinda Manning, the assistant dean of students, has been working on the preliminary stages of a new proposal for the honor system that will appease faculty members and retain students’ rights.

“A lot of faculty aren’t using the current system — instead, they are coming up with their own punishments for students who they think are cheating, which is problematic because the students don’t have options,” she said.

Manning brought up a policy change to the educational policy committee on Wednesday that was initially suggested by a 2002 task force.

A final report from the task force then recommended implementing a failing grade to students found of academic dishonesty, which would be labeled “XF” on a transcript.

This sanction would also put students on probation, meaning, along with other restrictions, that the student cannot serve as a leader in a student organization.

“A big goal is to regain the trust of the faculty with trust of the system, and a problem is that the system takes too long as it is,” Manning said.

A semester suspension is currently the standard sanction granted by the Honor Court to students who have plagiarized or shown other academic dishonesties.

Jeff Spinner-Halev, a member of the committee, and other faculty members said current sanctions for students are too harsh.

“A lot of (faculty) will be forgiving with some penalty for the first time a student shows an academic discrepancy, but the second time, we would want a harsher punishment,” he said.

Committee member Andrea Biddle said punishment should match actions.

“Certain types of cheating deserve harsher punishment,” she said. “If a student copies an exam and turns them both in, then that’s clearly cheating.”

Committee members discussed other options as well, such as faculty members reporting the plagiarism, and talking with the student to come up with a sanction.

The Honor Court would still be an option, as well as a mediator between the faculty member and student.

Inspiration for a revised honor system came from other universities, including the University of Maryland, which originated the XF system.

A date for a completed proposal for UNC has yet to be set, but Manning hopes to have it finished soon.

“We want to get all of this done when Chancellor Thorp is still here,” Manning said.

Contact the desk editor at university@dailytarheel.com.

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