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Honor court panel to add faculty

Years in the making, the new version of the Honor Code — part of the Instrument of Student Judicial Governance — will include six major changes.

One of these reforms will be the addition of a faculty member to Honor Court hearing panels. The new panels will consist of four students and a faculty member, selected from a predetermined pool of volunteers.

These panels are responsible for hearing both sides of Honor Code violation cases and determining the guilt or innocence of accused students.

Honor Court Chairwoman Dakota Foard — who oversees hearings and is responsible for the training and selection of panel members — said this change was initiated by faculty complaints concerning a lack of inclusion in the hearing process.

“The changes were an effort to be open and responsive to (these) concerns,” Foard said.

The faculty member will only be present in cases of academic dishonesty when the student is pleading not guilty.

Attorney General Raquel Dominguez said as the honor system exists now, faculty members file reports of academic dishonesty but have very little involvement in what happens afterward.

She said faculty members have the chance to become more involved in the hearing process with this change.

Syma Lakhani, a junior from Gastonia, said that this reform would change the dynamics of the hearing panels and that there may be some concerns raised by having a faculty member on the panel.

“There’s definitely a difference between working with just students and working with faculty,” Lakhani said.

Wilson Parker, a member of the Committee on Student Conduct, addressed these concerns, saying there won’t be a substantial difference in how hearings play out under the reformed honor system .

“(These are) responsible adults, capable of making fair and reasonable decisions,” Parker said.

Parker said fair and effective management of the panel will be key to maintaining even footing within the hearings.

“You want an environment that is open, inclusive and egalitarian,” Parker said.

Dominguez said there are measures to maintain fairness for panel members and accused students. She said that in hearings, panel members follow a script and adhere to strict standards when questioning an accused student.

Dominguez collaborates with Foard for the enhancement of the system on campus. Dominguez said adding a faculty member is not simply a response to complaints, but a chance to improve the entire system.

“We are hoping to gain some valuable insight from the perspective of the faculty member,” Dominguez said.

Dominguez and Foard said the change will benefit both faculty and students.

“Moving forward, (the changes) will help us have a stronger system, and I encourage people to look into (them) further,” Foard said.

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