Honor Proposal Would Catch Harvard Up, Incrementally, With the Times

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Though several members of the Academic Integrity Committee acknowledged that the proposed honor code and student-faculty board has a smaller jurisdiction than it could, they suggest that this represents the appropriate level of reform for the time being.

Terah E. Lyons ’14, a student member of the committee and one of several to draft the language of the proposal, said that the committee has generally discussed creating a board that would hear more than academic integrity cases but decided against it. “I think it’s going to take some time to get to that point, if we ever do,” Lyons said.

She said the Academic Integrity Committee decided to restrict the honor board’s jurisdiction to academic integrity infractions primarily because involving student voice in that adjudication process is already a “huge change” for Harvard, considering how long the Ad Board has been an institution. Changes to the process will have to happen “incrementally” for them to work, she said.

Dean of Undergraduate Education Jay M. Harris, who chairs the Academic Integrity Committee, wrote in an email that he agreed with the sentiment that such changes must be incremental to be effective, adding that stealing and lying—at least to a University officer—is already “strictly forbidden” in the Harvard College Handbook for Students. “We are simply not choosing to change the way we engage with those matters at this time,” Harris wrote.

Lyons added that sensitivity is an issue when considering the process for hearing sexual assault cases.

Mayopoulos said he understands the desire to address academic integrity issues first and perhaps expand the program later. Still, he called academic integrity “not the most important integrity we deal with at this school.”

“I understand there are restraints,” Mayopoulos said, “but having an honor code and an honor board that deals with more than just academics would be preferable.”

Michael C. Ranen, the freshman resident dean for Ivy Yard who sits on the Academic Integrity Committee, recognized that the committee’s proposal lacks the requirement to report of some of its peers, but suggested that the proposal was written with the goal of gaining the support of the entire community. He added that the honor code is a “living document.”

“I think this honor code should be and will be reviewed, and I think in a few years tweaks may be made,” Ranen said.

—Staff writer Madeline R. Conway can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @MadelineRConway.

—Staff writer Steven S. Lee can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @StevenSJLee.


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