Sunday, January 07, 2018

Flap at Princeton University over amendments to Honor System. It’s not students’ responsibility to protect the University from legal liability?

A letter to the Daily Princetonian titled Concerning amendments to the constitution of the Honor System discusses some procedural issues related to voted-upon amendments to Princeton's Constitution of the Honor System.

As to Amendments 2-4, from a 10 Dec 2017 letter by Ling Ritter Princeton ’19 :

The second referendum sponsored by the USG Subcommittee on the Honor Constitution establishes a minimum standard of “at least two separate pieces of evidence, each of which indicates that a violation occurred” necessary for the Honor Committee to put a student through a hearing. The opposition claims that this standard would force the Chair and investigators to make pre-hearing judgments on the strength of the evidence. Firstly, the Chair’s role of overseeing investigations means that he or she sees all the evidence collected in an investigation, even if some of that evidence doesn’t make it into the hearing room. Because of this role, it is impossible for a Chair to enter a hearing unbiased.
The third referendum necessitates that the Honor Committee find a student not responsible if the professor states that the student’s actions were not in violation of their course policy.
The fourth referendum requires Honor Committee investigators to inform students whether they are under investigation or are being asked to serve as a witness when they first contact students. Presently, Honor Committee investigators call students from a restricted number and ask them to come to an office on Nassau Street without any information other than that they’d like to speak to them.

link: Why we need to reform the Honor Constitution: a former Honor Committee member explains

Micah Herskind wrote on the first amendment:

The first reform is the most controversial: Won’t reducing the standard penalty to probation and failure of exam mean that Princeton doesn’t value academic integrity?

Also within Micah's text was the interesting statement:

The opposition has also made vague arguments about the legality of inconsistent penalties between the Honor Committee and the Committee on Discipline. These legal arguments are never explicated – we’re expected to trust the opposition that it’s impossible to change the standard penalty. However, it’s not students’ responsibility to protect the University from legal liability; rather, we must create the most equitable system possible with the referenda power endowed to us.

link to Herskind text: Proportionate penalty: Comments from former Honor Committee members

**More than ten years ago, IPBiz discussed a certain case involving a Princeton student that went to state court, 186 N.J. Super. 548; 453 A.2d 263. See Plagiarism in academic contexts: a look at the past

UPDATE on 9 Jan 18:

On the Honor Code Referenda: Why aren’t we mobilizing?


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