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College Readies Honor Council Procedures, Membership

The College’s forthcoming student-faculty judiciary body will likely adjudicate cheating cases with the same burden of proof currently employed by the Administrative Board and similarly hand down the same disciplinary sanctions, such as a requirement to temporarily withdraw from Harvard, according to Interim Ad Board Secretary Brett Flehinger.

The Ad Board currently determines guilt in cases against a “sufficiently persuaded” standard of proof.

The Honor Council is scheduled to begin hearing academic integrity cases next fall at the same time as the College's first honor code is implemented. According to Interim Ad Board Secretary Brett Flehinger, the Council will be composed of 12 undergraduates and another 12 members selected from a pool of faculty, former or current teaching fellows, and resident or House deans.

Representatives from the Dean of the College’s office, the Office of Undergraduate Education, and the Academic Integrity Committee are currently in the process of selecting sophomores and juniors to serve on the Honor Council next year. According to John T. Hamilton, a member of the Faculty Council, the group met Wednesday to discuss the honor code’s still-unfinalized affirmation of integrity statement, a point of contention among some professors.

Honor Code Meeting
Members of the Academic Integrity Committee discuss a draft of the College's honor code in 2014.

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More than 200 sophomores and juniors were nominated to serve on the Council last fall, and about 70 of them formally applied for a position, according to Flehinger. Administrators and students are now completing interviews of about 40 students and plan to notify successful applicants of their selections in February, he added.  

Current freshmen may apply to serve on the body in February. The Dean of the College’s Office will select the other half of the Council that will include faculty, TFs, and administrators, according to Flehinger. Administrators expect to name the entire Council’s membership in early March.

Shortly thereafter, selected students will begin two hours of weekly training, according to Michael C. Ranen, a freshman resident dean for Ivy Yard and a member of the Academic Integrity Committee. That training will feature mock cases on a variety of academic integrity issues and sessions on cognitive biases and decision making led by faculty members, according to Flehinger.

While this spring will be fully dedicated to training future Council members, Flehinger said members will spend about a quarter of their time training and the other three quarters hearing cases next year. In future years, the entire application process for undergraduates will take place in the spring.

Although in many respects the Honor Council will operate similarly to the Ad Board—both with respect to its burden of proof and sanctions—Flehinger said the Council would “like to make intermediate sanctions more engaging.” Additionally, while the Ad Board breaks into small subcommittees to interview accused students, the Honor Council will likely break up into larger groups to meet with students, Ranen said.

How often students must sign a statement affirming their commitment to the honor code, a requirement that the Faculty of Arts and Sciences must still approve, remains unclear.

"We will vote on it, but we have not arrived yet at the manner of implementation,“ Hamilton said.

Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana called the effective implementation of the honor code one of his “most important goals” for the coming semester.

In their joint interview with The Crimson, Khurana and Flehinger were accompanied by FAS spokesperson Anna Cowenhoven. Dean of Undergraduate Education Jay M. Harris could not be reached for comment.

—Staff writer Karl M. Aspelund contributed to the reporting of this story.

—Staff writer Noah J. Delwiche can be reached at noah.delwiche@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter @ndelwiche.

—Staff writer Ivan B. K. Levingston can be reached at Ivan.Levingston@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter @IvanLevingston.

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