Here’s a little more detail on the Social Honor Code push. There are multiple WSO threads on the subject, but I wanted to fill readers here in. We want maximum transparency on this.
As currently conceived, the committee to draft the “Code” will consist of students, faculty, and staff, with a student majority and chair. Who votes is still subject to change, but right now all have voting rights. The product of this group is intended to apply to the entire campus. We do not expect this to be short term at all.
We do not know what the product will be – this is the biggest problem that we have and will have on campus. Many equate our efforts with a new code just like the academic one, which is not the case. We have public comment/discussion over the weekend, and will be creating an FAQ.
Other parts of Stand With Us are doing different things, but I want to make clear that this is not about what happened in Willy E for me – it’s about students taking some responsibility for articulating what we expect from each other. My WSO summary post is after the jump, and I’ll try to answer questions in the comments.
By Will Slack ’11
This topic has inspired multiple WSO threads, which collectively have almost 300 posts. I commend everyone involved for being generally more constructive than the WSO norm, and I appreciate that. However, I am very aware that everyone doesn’t have the time to read that many posts on the issue, so I would like to offer a summary of sorts:
The Social Honor Code was one of the action items proposed during the first “Stand With Us” meeting, a week and a half ago. The following night, it was selected as one of the areas of focus, along with the Discussion Day/Rally and Community Subgroup engagement. A smaller group of students met, and decided that it would be best if a formal committee of the school could be created to transparently study the issue and author a proposal reflecting the input of the entire campus. Though the committee is not finalized, it is currently slated to hold faculty, staff, and a majority of students.
The case for the Social Honor Code from the committee is in an op-ed from last Wednesday’s Record, found here. Be warned, the Record’s website may send you to the homepage for some reason.
I will enumerate a few reasons/points for in conjunction, with help from Morgan Goodwin:
A. Currently, the administration is has all responsibility for setting all guides of conduct. Students should have some ownership of community standards, as they do in Academic Honor Cases.
B. The current system leaves much to the individual discretion of a dean, or to other systems that are unknown and unused. (ever heard of the Grievance committee?)
C. There have been repeated calls to action over the years, but none have led to effective changes in policy or campus patterns.
D. The process of drafting the code will allow for a campus wide discussion on the values and opinions of the student body, as well as a study of Williams culture.
E. The code has not yet been drafted in any way, and any production of the committee will need the approval of a supermajority of students.
F. The proposed committee may, after study, come up with something better than anyone else has thought about yet.
G. Gradualism will not allow for a policy or process to improve Williams’s culture in the present, and to set new norms of behavior.
H. It may empower students to confront those who have said something harmful to them, so that resolution can be found, and possibly provide a structure for that process.
The case against has no official source, but I think this post does a fair job.
Other/more reasons/points: (taken from other posts by me, Timothy Geoffrion, James Matthews, and David Mathias):
A. It may take away the right to free speech, and the free flow of intellectual information and stimulation that a college needs.
B. It may not represent the views of everyone on campus, such that a student is punished for doing/saying something he thought was acceptable.
C. The enforcement of these rules may be in the hands of a group that does not reflect the student body.
D. The rules may lead to persecuting people because of the opinions they hold, and not in that they have been expressed in a hurtful way.
E. The policies may be used to justify an action that the student body does not approve of.
F. The policies may prevent appropriate responses to ‘incidents’ that account for proper context, which may result in students being punished over-harshly relative to the extenuating circumstances.
G. The costs in time of establishing the relevant committees would drain the time of the administration and student governance groups as a whole, not just of those in Stand with Us. That time could be better used for other things.
H. It may not have an effect on the internal morals of hateful people, which may then become inappropriately public in spite of threatened punishments, especially after there has been drinking. Instead, minds should be changed one at a time.
Concerns about the code are legitimate, in that all these fears could possibly come to fruition in the product of the committee. However, these are reasons to oppose whatever the committee comes up with after its study, and not the committee itself. The exception is G, but I think that the time in campus reflection will be well worth the investment, if only to be able to look at and study Williams as a social campus.
Whether or not you approve of everything Stand With Us has done or said, the attendance at last Wednesday’s rally, was huge. There is a problem on this campus, one that has driven multiple people to unhealthy behaviors. Whether or not you don’t like the idea of a Social Honor Code, and what it might entail, studying the issue can be something everyone supports.