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NU honor committees will combine

By Derek Radtke
On April 3, 2012

Currently the corps and civilian lifestyles each have their own honor committees, due process procedures, and disciplinary procedures, all administered separately at Norwich University.

That is going to change.

"I don't want to make it sound like its dramatic changes, we already have disciplinary procedures, we already have honor procedures, we already have due process procedures,. It's just that they'll be looked at in a lot of detail," said the university official overseeing student affairs.

The future change is due to a recommendation coming from the corps and civilian blue ribbon committees, and the results from the Noel-Levitz student satisfaction survey for spring 2011, said Michael Kelley, vice president for student affairs.

By August of 2013, procedures will be fully in place and there will be a single honor system and a single honor body hearing all student honor cases, said President Richard W. Schneider, in a memorandum for the Norwich University community.

The memorandum states that this will remove all doubt that one lifestyle is advantaged or disadvantaged over another.

Giavana Di Giorno, a 19-year-old sophomore psychology major from Dallas, Texas, wonders if "diversity with the corps and civilians," will be one possible problem with joining the two honor committees.

She said that once the diversity issue can be set aside, the joined honor committee will be functional and work at its greatest potential.

Most students, like Andrew Daddio, a 22-year-old senior business management major from Malden, Mass., don't get to see the honor committees in action and incidentally don't know much about the process and whether it is fair and equal.

He adds that while there are general university rules that apply to all students, each lifestyle at Norwich has different ways of handling things and different standards.

The blue ribbon committees are trustee level committees, and both gave reports that "pointed to student perception and blue ribbon committee perception of differences in honor and disciplinary process and in due process overall, and officially asked the university to take a hard look at those areas," Kelley said.

Since the committees are trustee level, the university must report back to the trustees about possible action to be taken about the committees reports, said Kelley.

The Noel-Levitz student satisfaction survey is an 80-90 question national survey for students to fill out for their experience at a university, said Kelley.

"One of the questions in there goes something like this: 'Student disciplinary procedures are fair,'" he said. "The student has to make two choices about that, 'Is that important to them?' and 'How good of a job are we doing?'"

Kelley said that the difference between how important it is to the students and how good of a job that is done is called a gap.

"For that particular question there is a large gap, indicating that the students think it's important - and they don't believe that the performance of the existing process is fair," Kelley said, indicating a clear need to take an independent look at all of this,

The issue first surfaced during the January 2012 board meeting of the trustees. Kelley said that it was the leadership committee which oversees student life, which brought this issue to President Richard Schneider's attention.

The leadership committee "very specifically said to the president, 'Mr. President you've got to address this,'" said Kelley. That's why the Feb. 29, 2012, memorandum "was developed and we said 'No, we have to stop talking about it and we have to start doing something about it.'"

He said that the memorandum was sent out to tell the university in broad details what the university is going to do about the issue. The memorandum also gave very specific timelines to accomplish the goals that were set.

"Basically it said that you have to get the due process stuff done now, you have to get disciplinary stuff done to begin the school year in August 2012, and you have to have most of the honor stuff done with full implementation to take place in August 2013," he said.

The future of the due process procedure will be to have one due process procedure that every student will receive, regardless of lifestyle and the degree of offense.

"There will be much more scrutiny of the processes to make sure that if we say we are going to provide a certain level of due process, we are," Kelley said. "We're going to have overlap, this is a really key point, and there will be overlap on honor."

By overlap, Kelley states that he means that both lifestyles will be present on the panel for any honor violation case. The representatives of each lifestyle on a panel will also have the same voting abilities.

"What we believe this is going to do is build trust, it's not secret, there are students from both lifestyles involved in the honor process regardless of the students affiliation," Kelley said.

Kelley adds that much like the current system, the new one will have checks and balances to ensure that the system is equal and fair for all.

The discipline process will be different from the honor process.

"They'll be two parallel processes on discipline, but the parallel processes will be the same," he said.

Kelley said that the merging of the two honor committees was put off until August 2013, because the change was just too big to happen before the elections for the 2012-2013 honor committees.

"I think probably one of the most important things that this is going to demonstrate to the students is we're listening," said Kelley. "You told us, in very clear terms, you don't believe the procedures are fair, we're addressing that."


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