SGA Affirms Commitment to Honor Code Reform

By Middlebury Campus

Author: Ashley Elpern Editor-in-Chief

The Student Government Association (SGA) unanimously approved a resolution re-affirming its commitment to strengthen the Honor Code system at Middlebury College at its meeting last Sunday.

As the SGA and Community Council move towards bringing the Honor Code to the forefront of campus life with the upcoming referendum vote to pass new Handbook language crafted by the Community Council, both organizations are increasing their involvement in raising student awareness.

In discussing how the SGA could facilitate such activities, SGA President Brian Elworthy ‘02.5 said that some senators “did not feel that they had been given enough time or that they were as deeply involved in the process to vote affirmatively or negatively” to support the Community Council’s new language.

In response, Elworthy sponsored an impromptu resolution, which states “the SGA Senate is committed to promoting academic honesty through a more prominent Honor Code on campus. The SGA Senate is committed to active involvement in facilitating student discussion on the evolving nature of the honor code language.”

After unanimously passing the resolution, the SGA formed an Honor Code Referendum Committee, comprised of two SGA senators, Erin Sullivan ‘04.5 and Kevin Sullivan ‘04.5, two members of the SGA cabinet, Gail Gaddis ’04 and Suzanne Slarsky ’02, and one member of the Community Council, Becky Ruby ‘01.5.

E. Sullivan said that the committee’s goal is to “plan how we are going to promote and facilitate discussion on the Honor Code and to inform the community of what is going on and what will be in the referendum.”

She asserted that “publicity is the key” and that the SGA hopes to heighten awareness so that students can make informed decisions when voting to accept or reject the new Honor Code language.

Ruby echoed E. Sullivan’s ideas of fostering discussion and focused on the fact that the SGA feels strongly that its role is to facilitate “greater understanding of the new Honor Code”instead of just accepting or rejecting the Community Council’s language. “Without stating an SGA stance…this will hopefully lead to fair and impartial debate about the new language within the student body.”

Elworthy noted that considerable time was spent debating the appropriate ways to address faculty adherence to requiring the Honor Code and making sure that students understood its importance.

Community Council on Monday revisited faculty compliance, adding a line to its language in the category of Faculty Responsibilities stating that, “Questions or concerns regarding faculty compliance with the Honor Code should be directed to the Office of the Dean of the Faculty.” The Council passed this line unanimously.

Erica Rosenthal ’02, student co-chair of Community Council, remarked that “this new language only reinforces what is in practice and provides guidance for members of the College community that are unsure of who to address these concerns to.”

Although the SGA focused some attention on creating a social Honor Code to encompass broader themes beyond academic dishonesty, Elworthy stressed that the SGA will not be addressing this at the present.

“Currently we are trying to strengthen what I see as a tenuous component of the Honor Code system and that is the academic component,” he said. “We need to have a strong academic honor code before we do anything else.”

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