Students discuss future of Honor Code
By biconews On 29 Feb, 2000 At 05:00 AM | Categorized As Archives | With 0 Comments

By Tom Goodhue

Students filled the Common Room of Founders last Tuesday to discuss the future of the Honor Code. The discussion was held in the wake of Sunday’s Plenary where the Cede received 65.7 percent “Yay” vote instead of the 66.667 percent required for its ratification.

The discussion was broad and covered a number of issues, including the procedure for a Special Plenary and the philosophy behind the Honor Code. Much discussion focused on how the Honor Code affects Haverford.

Afterward sophomore Jess Latterman said, “We need perspective. I think the Cede works much better than people think.” Jess also noted that “Haverford students sometimes take the Code for granted. Colleges without honor codes are much different places.”

Other students argued that without an honor code Haverford would lose its uniqueness. Several suggested that many students choose to come to Haverford because of the Honor Code. Kate Conway, a sophomore, commented on the relationship between the Code and the College: “People

come to Haverford because it is Haverford, and a lot of what Haverford is, is because of the Honor Code.”

Some students expressed a different opinion regarding which aspects of Haverford College influence a student’s decision to apply or matriculate. “I think a lot of people are here not because of the Honor Code, but for other things, like academics,” one student stated.

Senior Maura Purcell, the former Honor Council Chair, commented that a “lot of students will say they came here because of the Code and take it seriously. Yet we have an inordinate amount of trouble getting students to be jury members, even though that is a part of being under the Honor Code.”

Many students argued that the Code is an important part of the community, and that changing the Code could cause a change in the community. Junior Andy Ray said, “I think we need to experience a reevaluaion or reawakening of our curiosity of other students. I think we need to alter the Code for the better.”

Purcell questioned the standards of community at Haverford as expressed in the Honor Code. “What are these community standards? Who’s holding anyone to anything?”

Conway suggested that changing the Honor Code would not necessarily make the community into what people want it to be. “I think that the Code is one part of the community. I wonder how much a change in the Code will affect the community at large in ways that people think it will.”

The involvement of the administration and faculty with the Honor Code was also discussed. Some concern was voiced because faculty have the choice to ignore the Honor Code. Other students believed that he faculty and administration should be engaged in discussion regarding the Honor Code.

Sophomore Travis Combs argued, “We look to our teachers and our administrators for guidance. I think we need their input in the Code.”

The ability of the administration to overturn any Honor Code approved by students was noted. In an email to students, President Tom Tritton tried to lay such concerns to lest: “Please know that I stand ready to help your work in any way possible, including keeping out of the way. The Honor Code belongs to Students and you have the opportunity his year to craft it into an even more meaningful presence in your lives.”

Another controversial topic was student adherence to the Code. Some students argued that the Code was being violated regularly, and should be changed to better reflect the morals of Haverford students. Others argued that the Code is not a set of rules, but a set of values to be interpreted.

Ray claimed that the Code was being broken daily, and used confrontation a an example. In a letter to the Haverford community he discussed the failure of people to confont him following his violation of he alcohol policy at Fall Plenary. “The fact that my actions at Plenary went unchallenged for 22 days is indicative of a significant problem within this community. Not only does our confrontation policy require reevaluation, our collective sense of curiosity and exploration must be reinvigorated.”

Sophomore Elena Guarinello, however, believes that the Code can be interpreted in a number of different ways. “You cannot ever have absolute understanding of the Code because everyone has different understandings. Where there’s overlap is where we have a sense of community. You can’t expect everyone to have your understanding.”

Overall, students seemed very pleased with the discussion. Latterman felt that, “For a Haverford discussion, it went really well. People seemed to be really focused.”

Student Council Co-President Wheaton Little was also pleased with the discussion, and hopes that “discussion continues with active involvement.” He sees the Honor Code discussion as a chance to test the mettle of the Haverford Community. “I think this is the opportunity to be a community or not be a community. I have a lot of faith in Haverford. I came here because I saw amazing potential.”

Discussion about the Honor Code will likely continue for several weeks. Under the Constitution, a Special Plenary may be called if a petition with signatures from 40 percent of the student body is submitted to Executive Council. For quorum to be reached at a Special Plenary, 75 percent of the student body must attend for quorum, and two-thirds of the assembled body must vote in favor of the Honor Code for it to be ratified.

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