Haverford’s Fall 2013 Plenary came to a speedy resolution Sunday night, lasting less than two hours and reaching quorum within 20 minutes, compared to Bryn Mawr’s Plenary earlier in the day, where students waited nearly 6 hours without reaching quorum before the discussion was tabled altogether.
Just two resolutions and ratification of the Alcohol Policy were up for consideration, all of which passed with a majority vote.
#1: Altering Procedure After Honor Code Fails Ratification
The first resolution was a reaction to last year’s failure to ratify the Honor Code, when students voted to open ratification at Spring Plenary but failed to vote for the Code online. What followed were weeks of confusion as Honor Council and student leaders tried to determine whether the Code was still in effect.
The Code was eventually ratified at a Special Plenary in March, which featured free pizza and stronger wireless internet to lure students into attendance.
Should the Honor Code fail ratification, Sunday night’s resolution shortens the transition period following the vote from one semester to six weeks. In other words, following a failure to ratify, the Honor Code would remain in effect for six weeks. Should the student body fail to ratify the Code during that time, it would cease to be in effect.
Several students were concerned the six-week period might not be enough time for student leaders and the Honor Council to organize another vote and deal with logistical problems, such as altering test-taking policies during final exams.
“I don’t think it’s a fair time limit to put on them when you can’t ask for an extension based on circumstances,” said Brie Groh ’15.
In the Spring, it took about five weeks after the failed ratification for student leaders to convene a Special Plenary.
Kenzie Thorp ’15 expressed concern that the resolution allows the Honor Code to cease to be in effect.
“The [Honor Code is the] reason we have things we have things at Haverford like student agency and our drug and alcohol policy…if the Honor Code ceases to exist we dont really have any of that,” said Thorp.
Others felt the option to reject the Honor Code was an essential part of the resolution.
“That’s imagining that there is no time ever when the Haverford community will not want an Honor Code – what if the student body votes that we don’t want a Code anymore? In that case, we should only live under it for six weeks, not a semester,” said Karl Moll ’14, in response to Thorp.
#2: Revision in Student Constitution regarding Honor Council Procedures
The second resolution of the night entailed an extensive copy edit to Honor Council procedures in the Student Constitution, rewording phrases and section headings and moving around blocks of text.
According to the resolution’s author, Jon Sweitzer-Lamme ’14, the resolution would “make the words of the student constitution line up with the way Honor Council already uses them,” and change language based on “suggestions from the [Dean’s Office] to make us look a little more in-line with the law.”
Several students approached the microphone to support the resolution, calling it a much-need improvement to the existing language. Others said it was trying to do too much at once.
“I’m suspicious of [the resolution] because I think it’s something thats too big and too dense to take just one person’s suggestions and rewrites on,” said Alec Johnsson ’15.
To comply with Title IX federal guidelines, the Dean’s Office suggested changes such as:
- Rewording: “rape, sexual assault, serious sexual misconduct, and/or serious physical violence” changed to “sexual misconduct and/or physical violence” [Sec 7.01 (e)]
- Rewording of a section header: “Sexual Crimes” changed to “Confidentiality and Misconduct” [Sec 7.03 (c)]
Sweitzer-Lamme also added an amendment to address discrimination and harassment based on “gender expression,” replacing the word “homophobic.”
Another amendment aimed to expand the public portion of Honor Council’s weekly meeting “into an event itself,” said Honor Council member Brian Brown ’14.
Read the full resolutions: PlenaryPacketFall2013
Photos by Nyrah Madon ’16 for The Clerk.