Juniors vote in new early election for senior honor committee reps

The Honor and Discipline Committee (HDC) has announced its decision to elect representatives from the rising senior class in the spring of junior year as opposed to the fall of senior year.

The change was made at the request of the students who currently sit on the committee.

“The HDC has a lot of difficulty managing its affairs over the summer, and particularly from the time that students return to campus until early October,” Cheryl Shanks, HDC chair, professor of political science and chair of justice and law studies, said. “We have no chair from mid-May to late September. The old seniors have graduated. New seniors have not yet been elected. The former junior representatives might run again, or might not; if they run again, they might not be elected.”

Moving elections will help to curb these issues because it will allow the newly elected seniors to move into their leadership positions immediately. During the off-season, the HDC’s student leaders will have increased opportunities to investigate its operations.

“Having elections for the senior representatives in the spring allows the incoming chair to shadow the current chair, rather than to be trained in a cram session by me (faculty chair) in late September, to participate in September events, and to keep the committee on schedule,” Shanks said. “It also means that there is someone to speak for the students over the summer, someone we know will remain on the committee the whole academic year. Revising language, revising policy, revising the sequence in which we do this or that – none of that can be effectively done while we’re in the midst of classes. It also can’t be done then fairly.”

Important revisions cannot wait for the academic year to begin because “once the semester starts, that’s when the handbook needs to be true and reliable for all students,” Shanks said. “We can’t alter policy fairly and easily once classes are in session.”

In addition to streamlining operations for those on the committee, Shanks hopes that the new schedule of elections will benefit students who are called before the HDC. Since many faculty members contact the HDC in May after final exams to report possible Honor Code violations, accused students often have to wait until September to go before the committee. If the committee is not prepared to begin seeing students in September, students who have waited the entire summer are sometimes required to wait another month.

The new system will be better than having an interim chair, according to Shanks, because “chairing is an enormous amount of work” and the training involves a large time investment. Currently, “no one is in charge when school starts; there is no one to represent us at the various convocations and there is no one to handle cases that come in or the cases that carry over from the previous May.”

Recently, due in part to a spike in cases (“Honor Committee hears five new cases,” Oct. 24), the HDC has considered other changes to its structure, including increasing the number of representatives per class from two to three and using a rotation to “mitigate the burden” involvement in the HDC can impose on its elected representatives. However, the decision to elect seniors in the spring is the only change that has been pursued or enacted so far.

This spring, the Class of 2014 elected Katherine Flanagan ’14 and David Lee ’14 to serve as senior representatives for the honor committee in the upcoming academic year. “Thanks to everyone who elected to run for this position and I hope that you (and the rest of this awesome class) will decide to still become involved on campus in some capacity,” Adrian Castro ’14, CC co-president, wrote in an e-mail announcing the results to the Class yesterday. Flanagan and Lee will begin work over the summer.

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