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In our conversations about the University’s suspension of Honor Code referenda, we have overlooked one crucial fact: The administration has offered no timetable for its internal deliberations. Although we cannot change the decision to stay the referenda, we should press administrators to establish an operable time frame to which they can be held accountable. As citizens, we would expect nothing less from our government. We should hold our University to the same standard.

The University has indefinitely postponed a serious reckoning with the referenda. In an article published in The Tab, Dean of the College Jill Dolan promised that a faculty-student committee would consider the referenda during the spring semester. With no established deadlines, however, I fear that the cogs of bureaucracy will swallow the much-anticipated reform.

The University has struggled to effect reform in the past. In 2016, the student body passed a referendum authorizing the Undergraduate Student Government to collect demographic information about the eating clubs. Over the next year, USG repeatedly failed to undertake the necessary steps to implement the measure. As a result, the referendum’s momentum dissipated. Although the administration may be more reliable than the student government, we should remember USG’s failure as a cautionary tale.

I was no zealot for Honor Code reform. The hastiness of the referenda and the disparity in punishments that would result from them concerned me. I did not vote for all of the reforms. For better or worse, however, the referenda passed. Similar political impulses have shaped our country over the past year. The University, like the U.S. government, must respect voters’ democratic decisions, regardless of its own position on the measures in question.

To create a more equitable solution, the University could have delayed putting the referenda into effect by a semester. Doing so would have given the faculty time to review and possibly standardize procedures between the Honor Committee and Committee on Discipline. Instead, the administration has offered no timetable, writing only that the referenda “cannot take effect at this time.” Such oblique language makes me doubt that anything will be done. 

Jon Ort is a first-year from Highlands Ranch, Colo. He can be reached at jaort@princeton.edu.

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