The Honor Code has been a Knox institution since 1951, critical to protecting the academic integrity of the college and the degrees it produces. Created and maintained by students, Honor Board member have the right to change the Code as they see fit.
However, these changes have been made mostly under the student radar. Of 50 students polled anonymously, only one, a student senator who helped draft the document, has read the Honor Code in its entirety. A new education committee charged with informing students about the details and processes of the Honor Code hopes to change that.
The committee reported several changes to the Honor Code. Firstly, a standard reporting form will soon be available online for professors to hasten and formalize the reporting process. A diversity initiative has also been added to help the Honor Board more accurately represent the spectrum of students found on the Knox campus. In addition, the Board created a new position so that it can now accommodate 15 student representatives.
New members will be chosen from a variety of cultural and academic backgrounds. Having a variety of majors on the board helps avoid scheduling conflicts, which created problems with achieving quorum in the past.
A few changes to the position of co-chair have also been made. The co-chair will no longer have a vote during the hearing process, but still presides over all meetings. The process for selecting a new co-chair has been updated to include more members of the board, ensuring that the best people can be tapped to take over the position.
One of the biggest changes comes in the form of an informal resolution process and changes to the penalty system in formal hearings.
For a first infraction, a student may no longer have to appear in front of the Honor Board. Instead, the student and the professor may come together to resolve the infraction without application of the formal penalties provided that the infraction is minor. This will aid in catching mistakes early before they have become habitual. Even in the informal resolution, however, a report will still be filed with the dean’s office.
The Honor Board also now has more discretion when applying penalties. No longer will the standard first offence result in an F in the course, nor will a second offence entail automatic expulsion. Honor Board members may now choose from and deliberate on a variety of penalties and choose the one most appropriate on a case-by-case basis.
The new options include a warning, zero credit on that assignment, zero credit on that assignment category (if one test or quiz is called into question, all of them may be subject to zero credit), mandatory withdrawal from the course resulting in an F, suspension or expulsion.
Greater flexibility allows the Honor Board more room to make the decisions they feel suit the violation. These penalties may still seem severe, but as current Co-Chair Senior Lissa Mann said, “We would rather have people be scared of it than not aware.”