RYAN MILLER ’17
All matriculated students of Trinity College are responsible for their personal conduct and must uphold the school’s standards. When a student violates the policies or regulations of the Student Handbook, a hearing with the Honor Council is held.
The Trinity College Honor Council is a group of elected and trained students who serve a one-year term. A hearing panel, or appellate board, is comprised of members from the Honor Council. Each member of the panel has a vote in determining respondent responsibility and in the recommendations of sanctions. The Dean or his designee are present during all hearings to advise the panel, but he does not have a vote.
Sarah Bates ’17 expressed the purpose of the Honor Council as a group making strides towards fairness at Trinity, stating that the Council serves as an example to students that the policies held by the school are being enforced. She explains, “The Honor Council is about creating a community that does not tolerate dishonesty, so that everyone is able to hold themselves accountable for their own actions.”
Every year the College informs the Trinity community of all major academic and non-academic conduct cases resolved by the Honor Council from the early fall to the present. This year, these cases involved student handbook violations committed by students in all grades, both off and on-campus.
In total there were 21 non-academic cases released. These cases have been reported by the Hartford Police Department, Trinity College Campus police, on-and-off campus vendors, fellow students, and by anonymous persons.
In one case, a resolution was reached on the grounds of Trinity’s zero-tolerance policy on physical assault, violence, and harassment. “The Honor Council determined that the accused student violated College regulations that prohibit physical assault and verbal harassment and imposed sanctions of a permanent college censure notation on the student’s transcript and a mandated evaluation and ongoing counseling for alcohol abuse.” In this case, the goal of the Honor Council is to not only enforce the school policies, but also provide the necessary help and counseling for students where it is needed.
Another case described a student who disrespected a Campus Security officer. “Campus Safety reported that a senior male climbed on top of a patrol car and was being egged on by a crowd. The Honor Council found the student responsible of behavior which endangers and issued an admonition as well as required an apology to and work service with Campus Safety.”
Cases heard by the Honor Council are not always against individuals, but sometimes against student organizations. This semester, two student organizations were heard in separate cases where they both were held accountable for their actions. “During a campus event at a fraternity, college officials became aware that an unknown number of wristbands had been illegally fabricated and distributed by members of the fraternity. Through an investigation and administrative resolution process, the fraternity was found responsible and banned from having open campus events for the spring and fall of 2014.”
The other case, which involved a campus-recognized group, began with an anonymous tip regarding sorority hazing. An honor council was convened to hear the case and determine responsibility and culpability of those involved. “The Honor Council found the sorority not responsible of hazing, but responsible for violating the Colleges’ social policies. As a result, the sorority was banned from initiating any new members this year and from sponsoring/participating in any social events with alcohol for the remainder of the academic year.”
In addition to the aforementioned cases are thirteen academic cases and resolutions from Honor Council hearings released to the Trinity community. Contrary to the non-academic cases, a clear trend was found in this set of incidents. Ten of the released cases involved extensive plagiarizing and submitting another’s work for one’s own. Students in all grades were accused of plagiarizing term papers, lab reports, and even menial homework assignments. The results of the punishments for plagiarism ranged from students being held on permanent censure to suspensions, respective to the degree of the cases reported.
The Honor Council will continue to see student cases throughout the year until the next election process takes place.