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Friday, June 21, 2024

I have spent nearly 16 of the past 24 hours discussing the situation regarding the report and recommendations of the Student Conduct Code Review Committee.

I've spoken with other past Honor Court chancellors, and I have been in direct communication with Gene Zdziarski, the dean of students, regarding the report and proposals made by the committee.

The article published Tuesday in the Alligator only touches upon the real issue.

If implemented, the committee's recommendations regarding the Honor Code and the Honor Court would totally remove the ability of a student who has been accused of academic dishonesty to have his or her case heard by the Student Honor Court.

Professor Kim Tanzer, the review committee's co-chair, said the Faculty Senate is not looking to dismantle the Honor Court.

This is simply untrue, since the proposed plan, as stated in the report, is to take away the Honor Court's authority to hear academic dishonesty cases and leave the shell of the Honor Court intact.

If the recommendations of the report are implemented, the Honor Court will cease to exist as a student-led judicial body, period.

This flies in the face of the Honor Code itself, which states in the preamble, "A student-run Honor Court and faculty support are crucial to the success of the Honor Code. The quality of a University of Florida education is dependent upon the community acceptance and enforcement of the Honor Code."

There are faculty members at UF who have, for quite some time, disagreed with the basic foundation statement of the Honor Court.

While the opinions disguised as facts in the report of the Student Conduct Code Review Committee are flawed, one aspect of the report really hits the target.

On Page 4 of the report, the committee cuts to the crux of the problem: "Faculty input in academic conduct issues is essential to institutional integrity. Without such representation, many faculty do not report academic misconduct to the Dean of Students Office. Instead they may invent alternative, ad hoc procedures, which violate UF policy and do not benefit either the students or the institution."

So in the report, the committee itself acknowledges the fundamental problem many of the Honor Court chancellors have been complaining about for nearly two decades: "Many faculty" do not like the Honor Court.

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The committee then recommended that the Student Conduct Committee - which has faculty representation - hears cases, and that the Student Honor Court ceases to function as a student judicial body as mandated under the Florida Administrative Code and the Honor Code.

So the real issue is clear: The Honor Court is student-led, and many faculty do not like this, so they violate UF policy and the Florida Administrative Code to the detriment of students and the institution.

Yet incredibly, the committee does not address the possibility of having the administration pressure the faculty to follow the law. Instead, they wish to change it to accommodate their beliefs, which are totally contrary to the Student Honor Code.

Most UF students will never serve on the Student Honor Court and, to be sure, only a small fraction of students will invoke their right to be heard before the Honor Court, but the Honor Court is an integral part of our Honor Code.

Students should be outraged at the possibility that the administration may allow the faculty to take this right away from them.

Students should not take losing their right to be heard in the Student Honor Court lightly. Many alumni are doing everything they can to prevent the Honor Code from being changed, but it will take an outcry from the student body to ensure the Honor Court remains intact.

I would encourage students to take a stand on this important issue before this right is irrevocably stripped from them and future students such as my 6-year-old daughter Abigail (class of 2023).

Bruce-Alan Barnard was UF Honor Court chancellor in 1991-1992.

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