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The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Senate discusses possibility of social honor code

Guilford College may soon join the ranks of Haverford College and Davidson College by implementing a social honor code.

On Nov. 10, Community Senate picked up where they left off during their Oct. 27 meeting on the possibility of a social honor code.

Community Senate discussed the social honor code, centering on outlining a standard of responsibility, such as helping students when there is a problem — such as a bias incident — rather than remaining silent.

“This isn’t just about the students — it’s about everyone,” said Student Resident Council Chair on Steering Committee and Mary Hobbs Resident Advisor (RA) Sarah-jaana Nodell. “It’s for everyone in school, so we can all hold each other to a higher standard of being a better person as a member of the Guilford community.”

During the senate meeting, senior Andrew Slater said that thought students might wrongly think of honor codes as a set of restrictions.

“As hard it is to comprehend, laws are put in place to give people freedom,” Slater said. “The social honor code would give us more power to act on a defined set of values, and not have repercussions for doing such.”

Slater also said instead of focusing so much time on how to word the code or talking about how the core values are already hard to uphold, the community should focus on what is truly important.

“This social honor code will be guided by our core values, and will bring those ideals to life from just an idea to a reality,” Slater said. “If a friend is raped, or drunk, or lying on the ground, you have a means to take care of that and know that you are doing so in line with the social honor code. It’s a level of social courtesy with friends, staff, and faculty.”

Others, like sophomore and Binford RA Kacey Minnick, are skeptical of the idea.

“Should it be implemented, it would be a huge responsibility among the students to take it seriously,” said Minnick. “I’d want students to be a part of it, but it also sounds like it might be restrictive. I think it’s a good idea in principle, but implementing it is a lot harder.”

In an online survey of 100 Guilford students, 68 percent either agreed or strongly agreed that a social honor code would be, on the whole, a good idea, whereas only 39 percent either agreed or strongly agreed that it would be effective.

A plurality — 41 percent — was neutral as to whether a social honor code would be effective. Others completely doubted its potential efficacy.

“I don’t think it will work,” said junior and former Milner RA Johnathan Crass. “Look at the academic honor code; it’s broken all the time.”

Senate conversations have not yet reached a conclusion as to how the College would implement a social honor code, should the measure be voted into action.

Punishable violations, a feature of the academic honor code, may not be a part of a social honor code.

At Haverford, violations could possibly result in a trial. At Davidson, violations result in dismissal from the college. However, a code at Guilford is unlikely to include such ramifications, according to Nodell.

“We’re not sure how it should be implemented; we just know it’s already there,” Nodell said. “We just want to put a frame on something that already exists.”

Nodell described what she sees as an “unspoken or unofficial honor code” already in place among the community, seen when community members stand up for each other.

President of Community Senate Dana Hamdan agreed with Nodell’s assertion, but outlined a need for something more.

“In a lot of situations when we need it, that unspoken code or unity we talk about wasn’t there,” Hamdan said.

“The ‘unspoken Guilford code’ for me is intervening and making sure that other students are alright when something happens, said Hamdan. “Guilford does that a lot. Students go above and beyond. But we need to hold ourselves to a much higher standard.”

Minnick was still unsure about the code’s necessity.

“I think a lot of students will feel like this is just another rule,” Minnick said. “We’re not in high school anymore; we’re in college. We should know better. Instead of implementing this, we should take responsibility for how things should be.”

The process has not moved far outside of Community Senate. However, both Hamdan and Nodell were excited about getting more students involved.

“We didn’t want to rush into this, that’s for sure,” Hamdan said. “That’s why we’re taking our time with it. But whenever we are ready, we will begin presenting this to the students more and more.”

Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Aaron Fetrow told The Guilfordian that Student Affairs supports the concept of a social code.

“A lot of people are excited because rules and regulations happen from the top down, but this one will actually come up from the bottom,” Hamdan said. “It will come from students who want this rule, and want to see it happen.”

Crass disagreed with this viewpoint.

“Senate still has more power than the average student,” said Crass. “I wouldn’t say that they’re ‘the bottom’ — they’re more of a middle-man.”

Hamdan says that senate is the voice of the student body and encourages all members of the community to come, contact senators and be a part of the process.

“If the students don’t want it, we don’t need to have it,” Hamdan said. “That’s the beautiful part of it. But it’s worth giving a chance.”

Community Senate is open to the public and meets every Wednesday at 7pm on the first floor of Founders Hall.

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