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In the December Undergraduate Student Government election, four referenda on the Constitution of the Honor System passed by a three-fourths majority. On Jan. 4, the undergraduate student body received an email from Deans Dolan and Kulkarni and Vice President Calhoun informing us that the four referenda will not be taking effect at this time. However, as per Article VI of the Constitution of the Honor System, “The Constitution may be amended … upon the initiative by petition of 200 members of the undergraduate body, followed by a three-fourths vote in a student referendum as conducted by the Elections Committee of the Undergraduate Student Government.”
To the Editor,
To the Editor,
To the Editor,
To the Editor,
I write to share clarification and historical context in response to the letter by former Honor Committee chairs that was published on Monday, Dec. 11. The authors declare that for violations of the honor system, “in 1893, Princeton students settled on a consequence — one-year suspension...” In fact, for the majority of the Honor System's existence, the standard penalty for Honor Code violations was expulsion. A one-year suspension was not a listed penalty in the Constitution of the Honor System until 1974.
Dec. 12 began the voting period for the four referenda on the Honor Code Constitution. The first referendum calls for a degradation of standard penalty for violations of the Honor Code on in-class examinations from a one-year suspension to disciplinary probation until graduation. We would like to provide some additional information and raise a number of questions that students should consider as they think about how they will vote on this referendum.
I recently decided to disaffiliate with Princeton Graduate Students United. The decision came after being told by representatives of the union that I was creating an “unsafe” organizing space. I was shocked by the accusation since, well, I don’t go to the union’s meetings, take part in their committees, or do much to regularly support their cause. In a short meeting, I was informed that an unnamed member of the union had accused me of an unnamed offense and that a determination was made by an unnamed committee to ban me from the union meetings — meetings I don’t actually attend. There was no opportunity to confront my accuser, state my side of the story, or resolve the matter. The situation signaled quite clearly that between the University administration and PGSU, the University administration remains the more preferable option for graduate students.
Last Thursday evening, the prominent Francophone novelist Patrice Nganang was arrested as he was about to board a flight leaving Cameroon. Initially charged with “insulting” the president, Nganang has been a vocal and visible critic of the oppressive and brutal tactics that Paul Biya’s regime is using against Cameroonian citizens in the English-speaking western part of the country. Nganang had just finished an extended visit to the area and had written a piece highly critical of Biya for a French newspaper. Since being arrested, he has been held in a detention center in the capital, Yaoundé, awaiting a hearing.
Note: The Honor Committee case described below is a true case. The student in question granted the author permission to share this story. That student’s name and identifying details have been changed or omitted to protect the privacy of the individual.
This semester, a group of graduate students at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs has been working to improve diversity and inclusion at WWS as part of a new organization, Students for Educational Equity and Diversity. This organizing culminated in a letter, signed by 71.7 percent of all WWS graduate students and 79.7 percent of Masters in Public Affairs students, that was sent to the WWS administration and offered several proposals toward SEED's goals. The letter was shared with the Wilson School's Dean, and SEED members are in open and productive communication with the administration regarding the letter's contents. Moreover, over the past two weeks, two op-eds have been published by members of SEED referencing these efforts. In the spirit of openness and accountability, the full text of the letter is available here, and an abridged version is reproduced below. Faculty, alumni and undergraduate allies are welcomed to express their support by signing this support letter.
“I totally got raped.”
Editor's Note: As a clarification, the Honor Constitution, as adopted in 1895, determines a punishment of expulsion for sophomores, juniors, and seniors, and recommends a punishment of suspension for first-years who violate the Honor System.
To the Editor,
As a referendum sponsor who served on the Honor Committee for two years, I write with the hope that my fellow Princetonians will exercise their right to amend the Honor Constitution and seize the opportunity to create a fairer system by voting “yes” on the four referenda up for voting between Tuesday, Dec. 12, and Thursday, Dec. 14. These referenda reflect many frequent student concerns in addition to issues stemming from dynamics that I bore witness to while a member of the Honor Committee.
I joined the Undergraduate Student Government as a class senator because I saw a gap in student representation on the Senate. As a first-generation, low-income woman of color, I was not familiar with anyone on the USG Senate who also identified with all three of these backgrounds. I viewed this as an opportunity to bring to the table the visions people of these communities on campus have for Princeton’s present and future.
By now, you’ve likely heard that there are four referenda on the ballot for next Tuesday proposing reform to the Honor Code. Why is such reform necessary? I hope you’ll read this and find out.
“It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness…. [O]ne ever feels his twoness — an American, a [Black person]; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.” — W.E.B. Du Bois
Academic integrity is one of the core values of the University community. For many of us, it influenced our decision in choosing Princeton over other schools. Maintaining the highest standard of academic integrity is indeed a cardinal responsibility of all Princeton students. However, as a former Honor Committee member, I solemnly believe that the current Honor Constitution is not serving its core objective to the best of its capabilities, and therefore requires immediate reform.
This week, the student body will be asked to vote on four referendum questions that would make significant changes to Princeton’s student-run Honor System. As members of Undergraduate Student Government (USG) and a former member of the Honor Committee (HC), we the undersigned believe that these referenda are the result of a highly problematic deliberative process by certain members of USG. On substance, these referenda would make the Honor Constitution untenable as a meaningful way to handle academic integrity violations on in-class examinations at Princeton. Most notably, the proposal to change the standard penalty for Honor Code violations from a one-year suspension to disciplinary probation would result in an unsustainable disparity between penalties in cases before the Honor Committee and the Faculty-Student Committee on Discipline (CoD), creating an unfair system with inconsistent penalties for similar violations. The student body should reject these proposals and, instead, support a more responsible process for potential Honor System reforms already being undertaken this spring by a University Task Force composed of students, faculty, and administrators.