This year, students lost their right to vote for members of the school’s Honor Committee after annual elections were eliminated. Rather than being elected by students, members of the Honor Committee were selected by the faculty and administration.
Historically, the Honor Committee has dealt with cases of cheating and plagiarism and provided recommendations as to what a student’s punishment should be.
This year’s Honor Committee began working at the end of last semester. Since then, they have been working to create presentations for morning meeting, but they have not yet handled an actual case of cheating.
According to school Director of Admissions and Outreach, Mary Babbitt, the Academic Committee—consisting of the heads of academic departments and some administrators—wanted to change the mission and function of the honor committee.
Faculty members wanted to keep a student-run Honor Committee, but also felt that changes needed to be made.
History Department Chair Dr. Michelle Berry values student involvement in the Honor Committee. Berry said, “I used to be on the Honor Committee for years … I just like the institution and I think it is a fantastic tradition.”
The Academic Committee hoped the Honor Committee would do more than simply deal with incidents of cheating. Instead, they hoped it would also raise awareness about academic honesty issues.
According to Head of School Dr. Julie Sherrill, teachers wanted to select the students for the Honor Committee. Sherrill wanted students with “the skills and dispositions to probably be a very responsible member.”
Drama teacher Lisa Bodden is now in charge of both Honor Committee and Student Council. Bodden said that teachers wanted to bring the Honor Committee back, but said, “Time was the major issue here which led to the teachers choosing students for the Honor Committee.”
Bodden explained that “We, as a faculty, nominated students across the Upper School. Then, I took all of those nominations and sent an email out to all of the teachers and asked them to let me know if they had any reservations with any of the students on the list.”
“I didn’t want to know why, and just wanted to remove the students,” said Bodden. Once the potentially problematic students were eliminated, there were 16-20 potential candidates left.
Faculty members then voted, and the candidates who received the most votes were asked to join. However, not all teachers voted in the election.
For many students, the change is not a concern. Junior Spencer Martin said, “I don’t really have any thoughts on the Honor Committee because they don’t really do anything.”
Senior Esteban Quintana said, “I personally liked when the Honor Committee members were chosen by each class. This allows for more trust and support when you go to the Honor Committee. I would be fine with the teachers nominating and then students voting, but right now I don’t even know who is on the Honor Committee.”
Freshman Oliver Bates, a student on the Honor Committee, supports the new process. Bates said, “I think it’s fair that I wasn’t elected by the students.”
Junior Carly Caylor, also a member of the Honor Committee, said, “I really liked the point about being backed by teachers and them picking, but I believe, in the future, when it’s more organized, we should have students backed by teachers then have the students vote.”
Bodden indicated that a more limited process of student elections might take place next year. She said that Honor Committee members would still be pre-selected by teachers, but students might be able to choose from those students.
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2014-2015 Honor Committee Members:
- Brandon Swartz
- Sarah Klaehn
- Jacob Sabino
- Violeta Kiefer
- Carly Caylor
- Yuxi Xia
- Patrick Kerwin
- Elaine Wright
- Oliver Bates
- Thomas Peters
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