The administration has imposed two changes on the Honor Board system this year in what new Head of School Audrius Barzdukas said was an effort to promote transparency.
The Honor Board will continue to review the facts of a case and determine if an Honor Code infraction has occurred, but after this, Barzdukas will step in and join in the conversation until a final agreement about disciplinary action is reached.
“We’re going to get in a room. And we’re going to hash it out. And there will be no writing until there is an agreement,” he said.
Previously, the Honor Board would submit a recommendation for appropriate punishment to the Head of Upper School and the administration would decide whether to carry out the suggested punishment or modify it. After this process, the upper school students would receive an email disclosing the Honor Board’s recommendation and the administration’s decision.
“The old system was the Honor Board came up with a recommendation and then gave it to Mr. Salamandra or Dr. Huybrechts,” Barzdukas said. “But here was the thing: it wasn’t really a recommendation because they spent hours and hours crafting this recommendation. It was more like a mandate.”
Barzdukas, working with with Father J. Young, Jordan Church and the deans, drew up the new policy over the summer “to change the locus of the discussion from how the disciplinary decision was made to what happened and what we can do,” he said.
“No one really paid attention to the Honor Code until all of a sudden we had this kind of emergency,” Barzdukas added. “Every couple of years our community is hijacked by this heart-wrenching discussion, but the discussion is about the wrong thing.”
This year’s incoming prefects, who represent the student body on the Honor Board, were not involved in the creation of the new policy, Head Prefect Michael Wagmeister ‘13 said.
“There was a desire to treat students maturely and responsibly, to put responsibility of ethics in the hands of the students,” Spencer Raskoff ’93 said.
Rascoff proposed the Honor Code and the Honor Board modeled on similar systems at colleges.
The second change, Barzdukas announced to faculty last week, is that students will have to write, “I have neither given nor received unauthorized aid on this assignment,” and sign their name on all assignments starting on the first day of school.
Barzdukas said he was able to write and sign the statement within 16 seconds in test runs he conducted.
“We hope that every teacher speaks with their class about what this means to them,” Barzdukas said. “That discussion is healthy in and of itself. And then, by having it be a bigger part of daily life, We hope that it’s a bigger part of the daily conversation, that the honor code lives a little more.”