Cheating puts Honor Code proposals in limbo

Just days before Head Prefect Tasia Smith ’08 heard of the theft and distribution of the World and Europe II midterm,  she and members of the Honor Code subcommittee went to Head of School Jeanne Huybrechts to recommend changes in the handling of the Honor Code.

The recommendations made on Feb. 8 were based on the findings of the group, which, in December, held forums in class meetings and met with the faculty of every department. Smith said in an e-mail summary of the proposal recommendations included an education program for parents and students about the Honor Code in seventh through 12th grades and having each department write a distinctive policy that would define what breaking the Honor Code meant to them. Also, Smith said they suggested beginning each year with a “renewed sense of trust” including abolishing the use of turnitin.com until a student plagiarizes.

And then, more than 20 students were involved in compromising the history and Spanish III midterms, a case that violated almost every aspect of the document Smith and the subcommittee wanted to uphold.

Essentially the proposals are stuck in limbo. Subcommittee adviser Father J. Young said that he met with Huybrechts and they are planning to meet again to look over the recommendations.

“We live in a different world,” he said. 

Other suggestions included having all members of the community, including parents, faculty and members of the administration, sign a document saying they will abide by the Code and a revision of the Honor Board’s abridged case system, Smith said. Huybrechts said that they will probably present the proposal to the faculty in May.

Looking back on the proposal in his office, Young said that he believes a lot of the recommendations are even more pertinent after the cheating scandal. Still, Young said that it is probably unlikely that teachers will pass the part of the proposal that includes abolishing turnitin.com.

“I think it is really difficult to ask [the teachers] for that trust,” Junior Prefect Tessa Wick said. Huybrechts said she does not want to predict how the faculty will react.

During the Honor Board hearings on the cheating incident, Smith said that members of the Honor Board brought up this part of the proposal to help the cheaters understand the effects their actions had on the community as a whole.  

Smith said that the Prefect Council is forming an ethics subcommittee, to further discuss ways to help the school move past the cheating incident. 

“We couldn’t have asked for a better example to fall in our laps of this is what happens when you don’t value the Honor Code,” Smith said.