What Happens when Honor Council Trial Resolutions are not Completed?

Several weeks ago, Haverford’s Honor Council released an abstract called Bones. In the abstract, the confronted party did not complete its trial resolutions and attempted to subvert Honor Council by returning to campus for classes the next semester despite being separated from the community.

The trial raised questions from students about what power Honor Council has when resolutions are violated. Honor Council Co-Chair Dela Scharff ’16 explained that Honor Council implemented “Guidelines for a Party Breaking or Not Completing a Resolution” in the fall of 2014 to explain how to deal with just these kinds of circumstances.

These procedures were drafted after similar concerns arose during the trial The Grateful Dead, in which the confronted party, an international student at Bryn Mawr, was separated from the Haverford community but was found to be taking classes at Haverford the next semester. Honor Council confronted the student, which led to the social trial “Tangled.”

While Honor Council might decide to take disciplinary actions in these situations and could take action through the deans, it is the primary goal of Honor Council to restore a person. A social trial allows for a student to explain why he or she has violated his or her resolutions, which then enables the jury to craft resolutions towards restoring the breach of trust to the community.

In Tangled, it was discovered that this breach was not intentional.

“It was an accident, and the person didn’t really understand the resolutions,” explained Scharff. “It wasn’t even really malicious.”

In the case of Bones, the circumstances were different, but the lack of malicious intent was similar. The jury consented upon a resolution of separation which began the following semester. However, the student remained on campus. The violation resulted in Honor Council convening a social trial which is forthcoming next semester.

To enforce separation, deans now regularly check to ensure that students who are supposed to be separated are not attempting to enroll in classes. If they encounter these students attempting to enroll, they have the power to prevent them from graduating. Honor Council also scans the list of enrolled students at the start of each semester.

However, Scharff believes that an important part of restoration is ensuring confronted parties take personal responsibility for abiding by resolutions.

“The goal of the trial is to restore someone,” Scharff said. “Policing people when they have not completed their resolutions is a grey area but the idea is that the are becoming restored to the community.”

Indeed, when students have completed their resolutions, they are once again considered full members of the Haverford community. For example, they can run for Honor Council or become an HCO.

In the case of Tangled, the social trial resolutions were aimed at restoring trust. The student wrote a letter to the community educating them on the breach of trust. In addition, the jury mandated that the confronted party meet with an Academic Support Specialist at Bryn Mawr upon returning to campus.

While enforcing resolutions is important, it is important to note that situations like these are incredibly uncommon.

“It has happened twice in reported history,” says Scharff. “It is a severe violation, but I do not view it as a large concern for the community.”

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