The honor system that aspires to keep CU students academically honest is undergoing some of the most major revisions since its adoption by the university in 2002.
According to Council Chair Corey Bruner, the Honor Code Council has been collaborating with the University Counsel Organization, an organization that provides legal advice and representation to the Boulder campus, in an effort to condense documents and come up with a system that is transparent and accessible to students and faculty alike.
Last year, CU legal reviewed the system’s documents and approached the council with concerns that the language of the process and how it was presented to the university, was too confusing.
The CU Honor Code pledge hangs on the wall in every classroom on campus to remind students to maintain their academic honor. (CU Independent/Robert R. Denton)
“We want to make it as clear and explanatory as possible,” Bruner said. “Legal pushed for that, and we definitely support it. The revised version will be more explicitly laid out, with easier readability.”
The documents, which describe the various possible academic violations and detail the process of the hearings and sanctions violators must go through, will be combined into a single, larger document called “Policies and Procedures.”
“There won’t be any big structural changes and no system changes,” Bruner said. “The content is essentially the same. What we’re trying to do is allow students and faculty to understand their rights and responsibilities.”
Besides making the existing rules and regulations clearer, the new and improved version will notify students who have violated the code of the conditions of their hearings further in advance than what has been done in the past. Bruner said the goal is not to decrease the severity of academic violations, but to increase campus-wide comprehension of the honor system process.
“I’m glad that they’re doing this,” said Alita Putnam, a graduate student in CU’s English department who also teaches literature classes. “Fortunately, I haven’t had to deal with plagiarizers or anything like that. [The honor code] is mentioned to us in courses and pedagogy training, and it seems complex.”
Sarah Wetzel, a 20-year-old junior MCDB major, said she is unfamiliar with the system.
“I don’t know much about it because I haven’t done anything wrong regarding the honor code, and I don’t know anyone else that has,” Wetzel said.
“Students who go through the process are the ones who would likely understand our system better than the majority,” Bruner said. “However, we don’t necessarily see this as a bad thing. It seems unnecessary to inundate students with info about the process. We see that as condescending more than anything; assuming they will violate and therefore need to know the process.”
But Bruner said that doesn’t mean the Honor Code Council doesn’t want to spread awareness. He said the hope is that the more informative language of the “Policies and Procedures” document will allow the student body—and the faculty—as a whole to become more comfortable and knowledgeable about the code that is on display in every classroom on campus.
The procedure to pass the new document is an extensive one, but Bruner said the Council is working hard to get everything done as quickly and thoroughly as possible.
“First, ‘Policies and Procedures’ needs to go through the Campus Ethics Committee, and then it goes through CUSG’s legislative council and the Boulder Faculty Assembly executive committee,” Bruner said. “We’re meeting with the legislative council later this week, and we met with the BFA last semester. We’re definitely forging ahead.”
The Council has the entirety of CU-Boulder on their mind as they continue working on the revisions.
“It will just be better, both on our end and for students and faculty,” Bruner said. “We want to make this a more transparent process for everyone.”
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Annie Melton at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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