Powers to incorporate student input to change honor code

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UT’s honor code will see changes and clarification in the upcoming months in efforts to increase its effectiveness and implementation.

UT officials set up a University Honor Code Task Force this past spring to evaluate the statement and determine its effectiveness at UT. Following the release of a report by the task force last week, UT President William Powers, Jr. said there are plans to change the honor code itself and increase student involvement in its enforcement.

Powers said none of the changes have been specified yet, but the new honor code will focus on academic integrity and honesty to match other institutions that have specific and concise honor codes. Texas A&M University, Rice University and Texas State University are among the schools in Texas which have an honor code.

Powers said while the current honor code addresses issues such as pride, respect and cultural tolerance, which are very important to UT, he believes they should be addressed by a broader set of University values.

Adopted in 2004 by UT President Larry Faulkner, the current honor code reads as follows: “The core values of The University of Texas at Austin are learning, discovery, freedom, leadership, individual opportunity and responsibility. Each member of the university is expected to uphold these values through integrity, honesty, trust, fairness and respect toward peers and community.” In a statement in 2004, Faulker said he wanted to create an honor code to remind students, staff and faculty of their interests in matters of integrity and civility.

“Currently, the honor code is very broad,” he said. ‘I’d call it more a statement of values that are very important to the University, but that goes beyond what most honor codes address.”

Powers said he wants to increase student presence in implementing the honor code by involving students from the Senate of College Councils and Student Government.

“One thing needed was more student involvement in the implementation, or what you might call enforcement, of the honor code,” he said. “I think a lot of universities have student panels and groups that help complement the honor code, and it seems like a fruitful idea.”

Jessica Laberge, a recent UT graduate and former Student Government member, said she sees both pros and cons to increasing student involvement in the enforcement of the honor code but that ultimately it is a good idea.

“It gives students more direct control and input into what is happening in their own lives,” she said. “Because we have such a limited student government, it could be a negative, but as long as there are continued efforts to involve students, it will ultimately benefit them.

Michael Morton, journalism senior and president of the Senate of College Councils, said he sees this as a positive move.

“I think it’s good whenever you can get students involved in academic affairs on campus and whenever you can call more attention to them,” he said.