After extensive debate, College Council (CC) voted last Wednesday to create the Committee on Community Interactions. Consisting of nine students, two advisory faculty and three advisory staff, the Committee’s goal, according to CC Co-President Peter Nurnberg ’09, is to “explore interactions that involve students – both inside and outside of the classroom – on the Williams campus.”
While the Stand With Us Movement had originally identified the formation of a social honor code as one of its three main goals, rising criticism forced the social honor code sub-committee to reconsider its proposal. Further suggestions and criticisms led to an open CC meeting, where students debated the structure and projected goals of the Exploratory Committee on Community Ethics initially proposed by Stand With Us.
Following substantive disagreement with an opposition movement, members of CC and Stand With Us met to discuss the Committee’s proposed structure and purpose. The meeting examined the specifics of the Committee, and two alternative proposals, one with non-voting faculty and one with voting faculty, were sketched out. Due to scheduling conflicts, no members of the opposition coalition were able to attend, but some of their concerns were definitively addressed in the new proposals.
Several additional issues were resolved during last Wednesday’s CC meeting. In light of concerns over faculty interest and engagement, CC members voted to limit the scope of the Committee to only those interactions involving students.
During the meeting, Wood Neighborhood Governance Board Representative Jon Prigoff ’08, pointed out that it was “a little presumptuous of us to create a committee that would expressly regulate faculty behavior.” He added, however, that discussions of community needed to include faculty and staff. “It is impossible to look just at student interactions to address this issue,” said Haydee Lindo ’08, proxy for minority concerns.
Still, CC voted to limit faculty to non-voting roles. An alternative form of the Committee, containing six voting faculty members in addition to the vice president for diversity, the College chaplain and a representative from the Dean’s Office, was defeated after vigorous discussion. Co-President Jeremy Goldstein ’09 stressed the importance of the Committee being student-driven. “This is designed to be an introspective look at campus life from the students, by the students and for the students,” he said.
CC representatives also cautioned that students would be more wary of recommendations from a Committee with an extensive faculty presence.
A large part of the meeting was devoted to issues surrounding the autonomy of the Committee. Members of CC expressed concerns that the Committee may presuppose a problem. According to the proposal presented, the Committee will first investigate potential situations, followed by the filing of a report. Further action, including the compiling of potential recommendations, would be then subject to a CC vote before a final student vote to implement any proposals or solutions from the Committee. The Committee will not have any independent decision-making authority.
CC set a deadline of Oct. 15 for the entire procedure, with the possibility of appeal for an extension. The Committee will also be required to present its progress monthly to CC. Students will be elected to the Committee on Community Interactions through the CC Appointments Committee. The process to submit self-nominations will begin next month.
CC members stressed that the Committee’s formation by no means will result in a social honor code, emphasizing its exploratory nature. According to Goldstein, if the Committee’s report uncovers a problem, possible solutions may “end up including a social honor code.” However, Goldstein said that the decision would be carefully considered and transparent. “There should be no surprise about what comes out of the Committee, and any decisions that result from the entire process will be first vetted by CC and then put to an all campus vote,” he said.
Members of Stand With Us originally involved in the movement for a social honor code are now taking a step back. “I think some of us are probably going to be on the Committee, but not too many,” said Will Slack ’11, leader of the social honor code sub-committee of Stand With Us. He cited the Committee’s purpose of representing the campus, adding that too much involvement from Stand With Us members would “undermine the legitimacy of the real group, both in the way it works and the way it looks.”