Prefect Council adjusts method of disclosing Honor Board case summaries

Emily Rahhal

Prefect Council began posting anonymous Honor Board case summaries on the Hub on April 18.
The summaries, which will be placed on class pages under the label “Communiques,” are part of an effort to increase Honor Board transparency and allow the community to learn from each others’ mistakes, Head Prefect Cate Wolfen ’17 said.
The Prefect Council and administration have made similar efforts in the past to increase Honor Board transparency and make Honor Board case decisions available to students. Honor Board case reports were initially sent to students via email, and in an effort to create communication throughout the community Honor Board cases were discussed in “town hall” break-out groups beginning informally in 2012.
This system eventually changed due to poor attendance in 2014, when deans began reading anonymous Honor Board case summaries in class meetings.
The large venues of class meetings weren’t personal enough and lent themselves to inconsistencies in the details and interpretation of the cases, Wolfen said.
“The Hub statements are a version of the emails, they essentially say the same exact thing as would be emailed to the student body with name changes, gender changes,” Wolfen said. “But this way they are password protected. Since they are on the hub, only members of the Harvard-Westlake community can see them.”
The Prefect Council intends to anonymously release a summary for every Honor Board case on the Hub, Chaplain James Young said.
“I think that the practice of communicating what has taken place anonymously is a good practice,” President Rick Commons said. “There are going to be times in the arch of the school’s history, near-term history, where privacy concerns lead us to make an exception to that practice. So I would prefer to call it a practice rather than a policy.”
Some students feel this new system of disclosing case summaries serves as unnecessary punishment.
“You get punished for what you did but then there [is] the lasting punishment of what people are saying about it,” Colin Shannon ’17 said.
According to a Chronicle poll of 385 students, 60 percent said the Hub is an effective way to communicate Honor Board case summaries.
Some students fear this won’t bring much change.
“I think it could be affective, but the first post used incredibly vague language, to the point where I don’t believe a student could read it and learn a lesson for how to act responsibly themselves,” Jack Hogan ’17 responded to the poll.
The Prefect Council has had the opportunity to grow and learn from sitting on Honor Board cases, Wolfen said, and they want to find the most efficient way for the entire community to have this opportunity.
“What we have now is an improvement,” Head Prefect-elect Wilder Short ’18 said. “We will keep trying next year to find an efficient way to keep this transparency between the [Prefect] Council and the student body.”