The Oxford Honor Council Shows a New Face

“Oxford is a police state!” is a common phrase chanted almost every week in SGA by my colleague, Hussein Halemeh, an SGA Liaison to Emory’s Atlanta Campus. Halemeh’s common outbursts refer to an opinion among some of the student body that leaders of the campus sometimes try to exert unnecessary control over students and their activities. Under new direction, Oxford’s Honor Council is trying to change all of that.

On October 30 during SGA’s “Party with Honor Council and SGA,” the Honor Council gave a presentation open to the student body. The presentation, led by Dr. Ricardo Conceiao, Honor Council Coordinator, consisted of a general overview of the Honor Code and the workings of how the Honor Council operates.

Over the past two semesters, the Honor Council has not held open forum meetings about the Honor Code, which does not comply with its constitution. This town hall meeting comes as a deal was struck between SGA and Honor Council where SGA will not pursue charges against Honor Council for violating its constitution if it holds a town hall meeting within SGA’s deadline.

One of the Honor Council’s goals this year, according to the presentation,  is to show a friendlier face to the Oxford student body. According to Dr. Conceiao and Dr. Alicia DeNicola, Honor Council advisor, the Honor Council is beginning an agenda of transparency to complete this goal.

While I have been at Oxford for only two months, I can see the many problems that the student body has regarding the Honor Council. For example, Lexi Studwell, SGA Secretary, expressed her concerns about the honor code saying that being charged by the honor council for accidentally violating the honor code is one of her biggest fears in college.

Personally, I share this fear in that I believe I do not have a firm understanding of the Honor Code at Oxford. I feel that the few hours the freshmen spend at orientation reviewing the Honor Code is not enough for me to completely understand the more vague areas of cheating, such as plagiarism and collaborating with other students in homework, projects, studying, etc. Administrators have asserted that every student is “understood to understand” the Honor Code and it is the duty of every student to report any incidence of cheating.

How is a student body that clearly does not understand the entire honor code expected to comply with it? This is one of Honor Council’s biggest issues, and an important first step in fixing this problem is holding more town hall meetings.

From questions regarding how members of the Honor Council are picked to exactly how those members are held to a higher standard, the Honor Council has addressed many questions that the student body had during their past public forum, but it has much more work to do. Fortunately, the Honor Council will continue their efforts in teaching the student body on the workings of Honor Council and its Honor Code. While the administrators struggled to answer some questions, I am happy to say that the Honor Council is truly trying to be more transparent. While some may still believe that Oxford’s leadership is out to get students in trouble, I am confident that this mentality will disappear as the Honor Council reveals its friendlier side to Oxford College.

If you would like to review the PowerPoint by the Honor Council, you can find it on the minutes from SGA’s meeting from October 30. The Honor Code can be found in your student planner or online at: http://catalog.college.emory.edu/academic/policy/honor_code.html.

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