May 14, 2021 | OPINION | By Katherine Moynihan | Photo courtesy of Katherine Moynihan
The Honor Code, established in 1948, upholds three criteria: honesty, integrity and fairness. Colorado College students sign the code their first year. The purpose of the CC Honor Code is to integrate trust and integrity into the CC student work ethic by encouraging students to produce honest work. The Honor Council — a student-run organization — works to promote and enforce its code to the campus community. When a student is accused of a code violation, a pair of students investigates the case. The council is a recommending body motivated by student-advocacy.
As a member of the Honor Council, I asked some of my co-members to tell me more about their role on the council and why they feel drawn to promoting academic integrity on campus.
There are two Honor Council co-chairs who oversee the council’s progress. Megan Koch ’22 and Kat Gruschow ’22 are the current co-chairs. They supervise investigations, meet with professors and communicate with the CC presidents, as necessary. There are three committees: Education and Outreach, Diversity and Inclusion, and Recruitment and Retention. Each committee has specific goals and responsibilities that strive to improve the council’s investigation processes and image on campus.
Why do students join the Honor Council? There are valuable skills that come from the process of conducting interviews, serving on panels, and recommending sanctions. Gruschow claims her activity on the council has improved her communication and public speaking skills. Similarly, council member Kieran Woerner ’21 says serving on the council has taught him the value of communicating directly and honestly. Katie Trinh ’22 reports that her time on the council has improved her skills relating to implicit biases and decision making. For Owen Rask ’24, the council has been a continuation of a high school extracurricular.
The Honor Council is a hub of student advocacy with good-natured ideals. Current members feel drawn to the council because it appreciates honest academic work. Karla Ireugas ’22 felt compelled to join the council her freshman year because she wanted to contribute to safeguarding CC’s community, prestige and identity. Similarly, Gruschow described the council as underpinning the CC learning environment. Woerner agreed there is a moral component of serving on the council: it teaches students (and members) to behave honestly when no one is watching.
Normal procedures took a turn last March. When CC switched to remote learning, the council adapted to monitoring academic violations via a virtual environment. Koch describes leading the council remotely as “observing a whole new academic environment being created from the ground up.” The advent of Zoom and virtual classrooms produced an unprecedented challenge to enforcing academic integrity. Yet, the council made a swift transition to virtual meetings and investigations via Zoom. Koch and then co-chair Bryan Swanson ’21 wanted to make sure that students and faculty were still prioritizing the Honor System in virtual learning spaces.
Since the transition to remote learning, co-chairs and council members have kept themselves well-occupied with projects. Led by the Diversity and Inclusion committee, the council amended the investigation process to account for implicit biases. The council’s current project is working with the Health and Wellness Center to improve how the investigation process accounts for student mental health and wellbeing.
Although remote learning has presented new challenges, the council remains devoted to creating a trusting and fair academic environment at CC. Next year, Honor Council members are looking forward to embracing their role as student advocates in person.
If you are interested in joining the Honor Council, please contact the current co-chairs or go to the CC website for more information.