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Senate examines academic Honor Code

| Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Student senate met Wednesday night to discuss the University’s Honor Code, last week’s “A Time to Heal” dinner and vote on a resolution regarding senate members also being directors in the executive cabinet.

First Year of Studies Dean Hugh Page and senior Abby Davis, co-chairs of the University Code of Honor Committee, gave a brief presentation on the University’s Honor Code, which is currently under review.

“We’ve actually been working on this for a little over a year and thinking about what our post-productive next steps would be,” Hugh said.

Page said the Code is verbose, which can lead to confusion for students.

“It’s dense and it does not necessarily promote the kind of close and sustained reading that one would hope,” he said. “There are codes that are much shorter — codes, for example, like for the United states military academies that are about a sentence or two long. Our’s is rather at the extreme opposite end of that spectrum.”

Ideally, the recommendations and changes will be available for the next school year, Page said. 

“The best of all possible goals would be for us to recommend our changes before the end of the academic year,” he said. “It may prove to be way too ambitious, but at the very least we’d like to collect all of the community sentiment by the middle of next semester.”

The senators then discussed the Oct. 28 “A Time to Heal” dinner, sponsored by the Gender Relations Center and the University Counseling Center. Senators who attended described their experience at the dinner and guided a discussion about the event.

St. Edward’s Hall senator John Kill said the dinner highlighted a facet of sexual assault that is often neglected in discussion.

“I think healing is one of the aspects of sexual violence that we never think about, because we always get caught up in the who or when of the act and then the procedures and prevention,” he said. “But the thing is, it still happens, so it’s important to continue that aspect of healing. There are always people who are going to be victims of sexual violence and dating violence, and let people know this is something people are always struggling with.”

Rebecca Blais, director of internal affairs, along with other members of the internal affairs committee, presented a resolution to amend the senate constitution. The issue in question was whether senators could also serve as directors to the executive cabinet. Two senators, John Kill of St. Edward’s Hall and Michael Finan of Dillon Hall, currently serve as directors. Directors are nonvoting members of senate, unless they’re also senators, and Blais said holding both positions is a potential conflict of interest.

“By having someone serve as both a director in the executive cabinet and as a senator, that has the potential to give cabinet undue influence in senate,” she said. “Jack [Kill] and Michael [Finan]  have remained unbiased in their votes and they’ve been polite in their voting and abstaining, but nothing required them to do that. In the future, if we were to get people who weren’t quite as ethical as them, it could give the cabinet influence that they shouldn’t necessarily have in senate.”

The resolution passed.

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About Megan Valley

Megan Valley is one of the Associate News Editors for The Observer. A junior majoring in English and the Program of Liberal Studies, she hails from Flushing, MI and lives in Flaherty Hall.

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