Princeton undergraduate students and alumni: You should be absolutely furious right now. We just had our (honor-) constitutionally-endowed rights obliterated by a short email sent by several administrators. These rights were guaranteed to us 125 years ago with the establishment of the Honor Constitution and yet, one well-timed email was enough to dismantle them.
The administrators who wrote the email did not do anything untoward. The erroneous, careless, and irresponsible actions of the USG and the USG subcommittee unnecessarily constructed this ignominious debacle.
I write in response to Sarah Sakha’s response to my opinion piece demonstrating that Title IX proceedings are far less fair than those of the Honor Code. I have nothing to add to my original argument, which was based on an undisputed, factual comparison of the two sets of procedures. As Sakha herself wrote: “Ultimately, I agree with Berger’s overarching argument. Yes, the Honor Code Constitution presents stipulations far stricter than those presented by Title IX regulations.” In response to Sakha’s piece, I have three additional points.
As I understand it, the undergraduate student body correctly followed this procedure as prescribed by the Constitution, and therefore successfully amended the Constitution. The deans and vice president outlined their thinking to the contrary, stating, “these proposals represent a significant departure from prior practice and exceed the scope of the responsibility delegated to the student body by the faculty concerning the Honor System. The proposals would also place the penalties for violating the Honor Code for in-class examinations out of alignment with academic integrity violations adjudicated by the faculty-student Committee on Discipline in cases of plagiarism and other out-of-class academic infractions.”
“Fairness.” It was the word at the heart of the arguments made in favor of Honor Code reform during December’s campaign. In announcing the referenda, the campaign sponsors wrote, “Most importantly, we need a fair system … we’re proposing four, common-sense reforms that will lead to greater fairness and academic integrity.” The importance of fairness was repeated throughout a photo campaign featuring calls from student leaders to vote for Honor Code reform in order to, for example, “strengthen our commitment to academic integrity, due process, and fairness for all students,” “ensure fairness for future classes,” and “make sure the system is fair for everyone.”
I have seen many of Princeton’s brightest minds be forced to leave the United States because, despite finding good employment after graduation, they are unable to get a work visa under the H-1B program. To put it simply: There are not enough visas available for high-skilled workers. As a result, great Princeton-educated scientists, engineers, and businesspeople, who would love to stay and contribute to this country, are forced to leave.
It is in our nature to hire people who agree with us. I therefore recommend that after the current measure passes, students consider lessening the control of hiring new committee members by current committee members.
By refusing to affiliate with PGSU and revoking any affiliation you may have given them, you can take a step in the right direction. PGSU dissolving can provide the space to start over, to build from the ground up an organization founded on principles of fairness and transparency.
Under this reform, the student who copies code on the in-class programming exam would be on disciplinary probation until graduation, and the student who copies code on the assignment would be suspended for a year. So, if this reform passes, we must then ask if we can encourage the faculty and the Committee On Discipline to accept a modified standard penalty across the board.
Our job really starts then, once the Honor Committee Chair and two investigators determine a hearing is warranted after reviewing evidence and speaking with the student in question, also known as the SIQ. From that moment, Peer Representatives are defense attorneys, peer counselors, advisers, and ombuds, all at once.
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.
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.
Since becoming dean in 2012, I have worked to improve how the school approaches issues of inclusion and representation. I am committed to continuing this work with our students to identify areas where the school can improve and implement needed reforms.
We write as a group of Woodrow Wilson School graduate students to call attention to the urgent need for further progress in creating a safe, supportive, and fair environment for marginalized students.
Anybody smart enough to be admitted to Princeton should have realized what really ought to have been an obvious fact about cheating at the University: people don’t refrain from cheating because of their impeccable moral compasses, they do so because they’re scared of the consequences that will follow if they do cheat.
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.
“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