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Honor Court attempts to balance increased efficiency with fairness

Efficiency Infographic[2].jpg

Infographic courtesy of the Undergraduate Honor System. 

Students that went through UNC’s Undergraduate Honor System this year got in and out almost two weeks faster than students last year -- cases took about 62 days last year, compared to 46 days this year. 

Undergraduate Student Attorney General Jacob Friedman said an improvement in efficiency caused the time it takes for a case to be resolved to drop greatly. 

“Last year we set a goal to increase the efficiency by 10 percent, and we made it out to 25 percent,” he said.  

Friedman said the long processing times are sometimes due to the honor court’s thorough system. 

When a student is first reported to honor court, their case is reviewed by the attorney general to see if there is sufficient evidence to proceed. If the case moves forward, the student is assigned a managing associate who assigns the student a defense counsel and schedules the hearing. Once both the reporting party and the student gathered all the evidence they need, they will proceed to the hearing, which can last anywhere from a couple of hours to a couple of days depending on the complexity of the case. 

Friedman said the honor court deals with both academic and non-academic cases that can vary greatly in the amount of time they take to resolve.

“The most common charges we had this year were unauthorized collaboration on the academic side — plagiarism is also a very common charge — and then on the conduct side, like non-academic cases, that’s usually controlled substance, as well as stealing or damaging property,” he said.

Friedman said the honor court system received 234 reports last year, which primarily consisted of three main types of cases: not-guilty hearings, student instructor alternative resolutions and honor court alternative resolutions. 

Freidman said since last year, all three types of cases have dropped their processing times by at least 10 days because of slight efficiency improvements. 

“We tracked all case delays greater than three days, had better intra-staff communication, and this year I also appointed Seth Alexander as the deputy of process efficiency to basically oversee and be accountable for the efficiency of the overall system,” he said.

Alexander said in a statement that although cases are now moving faster through the honor court system, he doesn’t want students to feel rushed or neglected.

“We want students to have all the time that they need. These changes are a balancing act between due process and efficiency,” Alexander said. 

Aisha Pridgen, director of student conduct, said she believes this improvement in efficiency will help ease the tension that students experience when going through the system. 

“All the hard work that the honor system, particularly leadership, but the body as a whole has done to try to make sure they’re providing a system that’s as efficient as possible shows why it’s important to have the honor system here at Carolina, for our students and our campus,” she said.


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