Will Almquist is a senior from Charlotte. He came to UNC as a Morehead-Cain Scholar and served on the undergraduate Honor Court for two years before being named chairperson in March. He spoke with Daily Tar Heel staff writer Anna Freeman to discuss his experiences and thoughts on the Honor Court after assuming a leadership role.
The Daily Tar Heel: What exactly does the Honor Court do, and how is it organized?
Will Almquist: Broadly speaking, the Honor Court is one of the three branches of the honor system. The two other branches are honor system outreach and the attorney general’s staff.
Honor system outreach is probably the easiest to explain: That’s the branch that’s really responsible for the honor system’s relationship with the campus. Obviously, the honor system is only as good as the community that it acts upon. So, the outreach program is really in charge of that.
The second big branch is the attorney general’s staff. They’re counsel, so basically, when a student is charged with (an) honor violation, there’s a defense counsel that will represent them in front of the Honor Court ... The way the Honor Court system is, we ultimately populate the hearings panel. The system is entirely student-run. When a case makes it to the jury, the student who is accused has the right to be heard by a panel of their peers, and the Honor Court essentially provides them that panel.
That can count anywhere from three to five members, and they’ll hear the case, evaluate it in terms of the incident. Whether they’re convinced evidence exists the student (is) responsible or not, they’ll proceed to issue an appropriate sanction that’s consistent with (the) University’s interests and the educational development of the student at the University.
DTH: What do you like about your job?
WA: I think the thing I like most about my job is working with other students in the system and even students that are coming through the system. Ultimately, everybody in the system has the interests of the University at heart, and they spend a lot of time to protect its interests.
So, I really get inspiration from the efforts of my colleagues and the hours they work in order to uphold the system, and I will say it encourages me to work that much harder, because we’re all here for the same thing, which is to protect and uphold a proud tradition of honor and integrity at Carolina. That’s pretty exciting to me.
DTH: What are some struggles you’ve experienced on the Honor Court?
WA: One challenge that particularly interests me is striving to represent every student that’s affiliated with the University at the undergraduate level, and obviously there’s a separate graduate system. That’s somewhere along the order of over 20,000 people.
DTH: What is the future of the Honor Court?
WA: The short answer to that question is somewhat hard to say. The Honor Court’s job is ultimately to uphold the Instrument (of Student Judicial Governance). As I’m sure you may be aware, the Instrument changed recently.
We’re looking at faculty will now sit on academic panels; we’ve introduced new types of hearings — that’s the future of the honor system in a nutshell. How do we adapt to these changes? And overall how do we continue to stay relevant to the University?