The Honor System Review Committee unveiled its preliminary findings at the Council of the Princeton University Community meeting on March 26, to mixed reactions among members of the committee.
The published summary of the preliminary report was released in advance of the meeting on the HSRC website that outlined the committee’s recommendations and reasoning for rejecting two of the three referenda under review. According to Carolyn Liziewski ’18, HSRC Co-Chair and Honor Committee Chair Emerita, the full report will be released at the end of the spring semester and only to the Committee on Examinations and Standing.
The HSRC recommended against the adoption of two referenda that would reduce the standard penalty for Honor Code violations and allow a professor’s testimony to be grounds for dismissing a case against a student, respectively. Revised language was recommended on the third referendum, on standards for evidence.
All of the original four referenda were passed in the USG election in December with at least 87 percent of the vote.
Some members of the HSRC emphasized their concern that the published summary of the preliminary report implied unanimous support for each recommendation, which was not the case.
“I am disappointed in the fact that the published summary of the HSRC report is not transparent about the disagreement expressed by a number of members on the committee when discussing passing the referenda, as is, to [the Committee on Examinations and Standing],” Soraya Morales Nuñez ’18, a member of the committee and a proponent of Honor Code reform, wrote in a statement to The Daily Princetonian.
Morales Nuñez noted that she and others had advocated for a section that would express dissenting opinions, which was not included in the published summary released on Monday afternoon.
Another member of the HSRC, Patrick Flanigan ’18, echoed Morales Nuñez’s sentiments.
“I would say that there are dissenting views that are not being fully expressed in the report,” Flanigan said.
Liziewski declined to comment on internal deliberations within the committee to the ‘Prince,’ but added that when drafting the report, the committee strove to be as inclusive as possible of dissenting opinions.
“We wanted to make sure that we presented every side of the issue that we discussed so they [the Committee on Examinations and Standing] could understand the full pros and cons to understand what was motivating our recommendations themselves,” Liziewski said to the ‘Prince.’
Liziewski and fellow HSRC Co-Chair Clarence Rowley ’95, a mechanical and aerospace engineering professor, presented the recommendations at the CPUC meeting.
Both co-chairs spoke to the committee’s efforts to be inclusive of student opinion and all facets of the issues.
“We’re trying to take to heart the intentions and motivation behind the vote and then tailor the reforms to the Honor System that really get to the core of the problems that the students have,” Liziewski said during the meeting.
Both President Christopher Eisgruber ’83 and Rowley emphasized during the CPUC meeting that internal reports — even the summary — are often not published to the student body and vary from case to case. They are usually created for internal deliberation.
Eisgruber stressed that the committee should be able to reach its conclusions without influence from public opinion.
“Just as the [HSRC] benefitted from the chance to consider all these arguments before reaching final judgement that would be made public, so too would the Committee on Examinations and Standing,” he said.
Morales Nuñez disagreed with the decision to keep the forthcoming full report from the student body.
“Especially when talking about committees working on issues that can have an impact on the student experience as immense as the Honor Code can, [committee transparency] should be as much of a bedrock value as this university consistently reminds its students that academic integrity is,” Morales Nuñez said.
Liziewski said that the intention behind releasing this summary of the preliminary report was to update the student body and show that their concerns are being addressed.
The committee plans to complete its work this spring.