To the Editor:
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To the Editor:
This week, the USG election ballot includes yet another referendum to amend the Honor Constitution. Unlike the referenda from the fall, however, this proposal does not touch on the committee’s penalties or procedures. Instead, it focuses on the leadership of the committee itself. The referendum, if adopted, would create a procedure for a member of the Honor Committee to challenge the incumbent chair or clerk for their position. Regardless of your views on the Honor Committee and the fall referenda, this proposal should concern every student. It will create turmoil and uncertainty, not accountability, harming the interests of students who interact with the committee. All disciplinary bodies at the University should be held accountable, including the Honor Committee, but the model proposed by the referendum is deeply flawed. I strongly urge students to vote no.
When President Trump signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act into law in December, one of the most controversial changes to the tax code was the curtailment of the state and local tax (SALT) deduction. Under the old system, federal taxpayers could deduct from their federal tax bill all property taxes and either income or sales taxes paid to state and local governments. Going forward, the new law caps SALT at $10,000 per tax return, meaning that only the first $10,000 a taxpayer pays in state and local property, income, and sales taxes is deductible.
The backlash to the University’s decision on the Honor Constitution referenda has been growing since the January 4 announcement. There are now calls for protests in February by the Honor Code Reform campaign, and the USG Executive Committee has vowed to “[actively pursue] other avenues of action available to us.” These responses demonstrate a fundamental misunderstanding both of how the University operates and of the relationship between the faculty and the Honor System. The University’s decision is consistent with its authority over academic policy and was a prudent response to a highly flawed attempt to alter the Honor System. Going forward, students should focus on participating in the work of the Honor System Review Committee, not protesting a legitimate exercise of authority.
The USG pitchforks are out, and this time there is a new target: Princeton’s 124-year-old honor system. Princeton students are being asked by a USG sub-committee to vote yes on four referenda, including a reduction in the severity of punishment for cheating on a Princeton exam to disciplinary probation, a change that would fundamentally alter Princeton’s honor system. This proposal is both bad policy and a result of a biased and highly imprudent process. As the longest-tenured member of the USG Academics Committee, I have seen how USG can positively influence University policy from calendar reform to departmental requirements. This referendum, however, represents the exact opposite: a hasty attempt by certain members of USG to change an important policy without consulting faculty and administrators or considering the consequences. This is the wrong way to pursue reform. I think most students can agree that changes are needed to our Honor System. But disciplinary probation is simply too lenient of a penalty for cheating during an in-class exam, and we need faculty and administrator support so that more options for reform, like a one-semester suspension as standard penalty, can be on the table. I urge students to vote no on the first referendum and instead support a more responsible process for reform already taking place this spring.