Community Council Update

By Emma Dunlap

On February 16, 2015, Cate Costley ’15 and Alison Maxwell ’15 of the SGA Honor Code Committee attended this week’s Community Council meeting. They presented a drafted amendment to the constitution of Middlebury’s Honor Code and received feedback from Community Council members.

Maxwell said, “The student body is very divided on whether or not the Honor Code is useful or applicable to our lives. Student apathy is driving this [proposition]…if we have an honor code, we want to know that students want an honor code.”

Costley and Maxwell hope to pass an amendment that will incite students to think about the value of the honor code to the Middlebury community. If their proposed amendment passes, it will prompt a school-wide vote on the Honor Code that requires at least two-thirds of the student body’s vote.

“This [proposal] would stimulate discussion,” Costley said.

One option that was brought up proposed a complete suspension of the Honor Code’s implementation for two years. This proposition prompted some negative responses from council members who felt this action could be extremely drastic and unreasonable.

Blake Shapskinsky ’15 said, “I see maintaining and revising as relevant but not suspending it… that is a huge executive change. If anyone ever voted to suspend, it would cause a lot more trouble than it should.”

Katherine Brown ’18 said, “Suspending the honor code would greatly change all academic processes at the school… if we do suspend it, I would question whether or not this institution is the way I want it to be…or if I would I want to be here.”

However, SGA President Taylor Custer ’15 was in favor of putting suspension or rejection as an option.

Custer said, “Ideally, if the Honor Code is doing what it is supposed to be doing, then there is not cheating on campus…[but] surveys suggest that there is cheating on campus, so, clearly, the Honor Code is not doing something right.”

He continued, “Do students actually own [the honor code]? I don’t necessarily think that’s true or if students really think that. Putting in this voting measure…would show how important the honor code is.”

Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of the College Katy Smith Abbott said that she would be in support of an amendment that would possibly suspend the Honor Code because it would maintain a spark of “the high stakes of eradicating an Honor Code.”  However, she believes completely eradicating the Honor Code would present too many issues.

Costley said, “[The possibility of suspension] gives this an edge…as a community, we have been apathetic about integrity and this is to kickstart a conversation.”

The second topic the council covered was Custer’s proposal to extend Thanksgiving Recess to include the Monday and Tuesday of the week recess begins. To accommodate for this, Custer proposed adding two days to the beginning of the fall semester. According to Custer, 33 percent of the student body skips class on Monday and Tuesday to start Thanksgiving Recess early. Some of the members presented reasons why they thought this proposal would not be compatible with “the nature of Middlebury’s compressed schedule,” as noted by Smith Abbott. Additionally—according to Horticulturalist Tim Parsons—campus facilities would lose two much-needed days for preparing the campus for the fall semester.