The newest satellite in UNC’s honor system galaxy is the UNC Kenan-Flagler Graduate Honor Court. The business school joins the graduate and professional programs of law, dentistry, pharmacy and medicine with its own student-run honor court.
The UNC Kenan-Flagler court, in the works since October 2005, was instituted last February after approval by Chancellor James Moeser, the student government and faculty council. UNC’s student judicial system, which includes graduate and undergraduate honor courts, is under the jurisdiction of the dean of student’s office.
The in-house honor court has several advantages.
UNC Kenan-Flagler students “have a more relevant understanding of honor code violations to our business school curriculum,” says Diane Horton, honor court coordinator and associate director of the MBA program.
Business students are familiar with courses and requirements and have rapport with faculty members. “Being inside helps because you have a network of folks who are a small community, which we are,” says Horton, a member of the Committee on Student Conduct, a universitywide group that oversees all student judicial systems on campus.
Before, UNC Kenan-Flagler’s cases went through the graduate honor court system, which has a big caseload. An in-house court will process cases more quickly, Horton says.
And the new court underscores UNC’s honor code to students.
“Awareness is a big, big factor,” Horton says. “It’s another way to emphasize how important ethics is, and teaching it at the school level will mirror what happens once they get out of school.”
UNC Kenan-Flagler’s honor court system includes educating students and faculty. Tips are available for faculty on how to catch plagiarism and unauthorized assistance so they can inform students.
“One of the core values of Kenan-Flagler is integrity, and this is just an arm of that,” says Dawn Morrow (MBA, MHA ’08), the student attorney general for the new system.
Morrow investigates reported honor code violations and decides whether there’s enough evidence to move forward with charging a student. The defendant has a student counsel, and both sides look at evidence and may question witnesses and talk with faculty members. If a hearing proceeds, the court usually considers the case at a closed hearing. The court deliberates in private to determine guilt or innocence. If the defendant is found guilty, the court determines a sanction.
The minimum sanction is a failing grade in the course or part of the course and probation for one semester or an additional educational component, such as community service. The typical sanction is a failing grade in the course or part of the course and suspension for at least one academic semester, Horton says.
About 30 students from UNC Kenan-Flagler’s four graduate programs are involved with the honor court.
“The student body has really embraced this and taken it on as their own, which is exactly what we wanted to happen,” Horton says.