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Students aren't using lawyers in Honor Court cases

But few students are availing themselves of the right to use an attorney in these cases.

In the 2014-15 school year, less than 1 percent of original hearings in Honor Court included the use of an attorney in the actual hearing.

So far for this school year, there have been none.

Dean of Students Jonathan Sauls said students may choose to not use a lawyer in Honor Court proceedings because it is not a replica of the criminal justice process, and lawyers may not be aware of the University’s legal process.

“Not very many opt to (be represented by an attorney) ... but it is absolutely their right,” he said. “Students are advised of that opportunity.”

Sauls said this right is in the materials that are shared with students when they are informed of their basic rights.

Joe Cohn, legislative and policy director of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, said students may not exercise their right to an attorney because they may not know the right exists, or it could be because the hearings happen so quickly after the charges are brought that students can’t hire one.

“The legislation was aimed at preventing an imbalance of power where students were having to defend themselves against very serious charges that were being brought against them by deans and provosts,” he said.

Lawyers cannot be involved in cases of academic dishonesty or cases with all-student judiciary panels, but they can be involved in cases that are heard by the University Hearings Board.

Tom Hardiman, associate director in the Office of Student Conduct, said the new policy has been beneficial as it has prompted his office to develop relationships with lawyers.

He said having lawyers involved sparks collaboration, allows Honor Court to resolve matters in a more efficient manner and shows that these lawyers have faith and trust in the Honor Court system.

“We’ve found it helpful because they’ve seen our process,” Hardiman said.

Faculty on Honor Court

The Honor Court has successfully recruited enough new faculty members to accommodate a policy change that allows a faculty member to sit on academic not-guilty hearings.

The Committee on Student Conduct passed this resolution in the beginning of the 2014-15 school year, and in Spring 2015, new faculty members underwent an extensive training session to prepare them to serve on the Honor Court.

The first faculty member sat on an original not-guilty academic case in the fall of 2015.

Will Almquist, undergraduate Honor Court chairperson, said faculty members, like students, want to uphold values of academic integrity, and serving on the Honor Court is not forced upon them.

“Their enthusiasm was great from the beginning,” he said.

Ina Kosova, undergraduate attorney general, said this new policy was made to help faculty realize how serious and professional these cases are and to familiarize them with the process.

“We felt that both faculty and students are stakeholders in ensuring academic integrity,” she said.

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Kosova said they have worked very hard to preserve the student aspect of the Honor Court, while adding a faculty perspective.

“Clearly students haven’t complained or anything like that,” she said. “Faculty have expressed how positive of a change this is in order to provide new faculty members with a more intimate look into the way the honor system functions.”

David Navalinsky, a professor who serves on the Honor Court, said he was looking for ways to engage more with students in and outside of his department.

“For me, the Honor Court was a way for me to engage with other students and to have a bigger sense of campus, I guess,” he said.

Navalinsky also said it’s always great to have mentorship in situations like these.

“These students are making some pretty big decisions,” he said.