Community Council Update

By Ellie Reinhardt

The Community Council met on Monday, Oct. 14 for its third meeting of the year to discuss a report written by the Honor Code Review Committee at the end of last year. A Community Council meeting the previous week consisted of a discussion on the hard alcohol policy at the College, a conversation that will continue at its next meeting.

According to the Undergraduate Honor Code Constitution, the Honor Code Review Committee meets every four years to “examine the honor system and its operation and make any appropriate recommendations for revision to the faculty and the Community Council.”

In order to best discuss the Honor Code review process that occurred last year, the Community Council hosted two members of the Honor Code Review Committee —  Associate Dean for Judicial Affairs and Student Life Karen Guttentag and Professor of Mathematics Steve Abbott.

According to Guttentag, the mission of the Honor Code Review Committee is to “take the pulse of the honor code and the academic integrity environment at Middlebury.”

“[The Honor Code Review Committee] divided our recommendations into three categories this year,” she said, alluding to suggestions to support students capacity for success, strengthen the honor code itself and strengthen the culture of academic integrity.

Community Council will review the edits made by the Honor Code Review Committee and discuss possible areas of improvement before sending them to the Faculty Council for further review.

At the meeting, the areas discussed included the possible addition of a section regarding mosaic plagiarism, the peer-proctoring element of the honor code and the wording of certain sections that implied moral versus obligatory action in response to Honor Code violations.

One of the most discussed points was the ability of students to self-proctor and the levels to which students are able to and should be able to proctor their peers.

“This is a student honor code,Abbott said. ”It was created by the students and it was meant to be owned at that level. There needs to be some way to have that self-proctoring, self-reporting doable.”

This conversation brought up questions about some of the language used in the Honor Code and how it can best encourage students to take action in reporting Honor Code violations.

“Ambivalence and discomfort [in self-policing] is shared by probably a majority of the student body and why we invited the Student Honor Code Committee to really say, ‘Is this working, is the student body willing and comfortable around this particular requirement or do we need to adjust this in a way that’s going to work better for our community?’” Guttentag said.

As the discussion continued, it was decided among all those present to continue the conversation regarding the Honor Code and the edits made to it throughout the year.

The discussion then turned to the importance of the Honor Code at the College.

“It’s a relationship between the institution and the values and the value of your education and the value of that integrity goes along with it,” said Associate Dean of Students Doug Adams.

“We’re always selling the honor code as something that exists between students but really it’s a relationship in part between students, but also in part between ourselves and our professors and I think most people here really respect the people whom we learn from,” said Student Government Association President Rachel Liddell ’15.

The group then discussed a social Honor Code and what that would mean for the College and how it could be implemented. Adams indicated that that discussion had begun last year but was never finished. He said, “We have an honor code and the question is, ‘can we have an honor code that extends to the entire community all the time?’”

The meeting ended with a quick dialogue on revamping the guest registration policy, suggesting a number of ideas for Public Safety to consider over the next few months.