Honor Council Demystified—How Can the Honor Council Better Represent the Students?

Ana Pranger “Discipline.” “Secretive.” “Not good.” “Scary.”   The Honor Council has become a sort of boogeyman for Latin students. Many of the students I talked to said they “don’t know much” about the Honor Council, but it seems like a scary group of “punishment-givers” that “don’t really tell [us] their process.” Honor Council, which was originally founded to replace the more punitive and secretive Disciplinary Committee, no longer represents the students. Is this because the council itself doesn’t reach out enough, or because the students don’t accept the invitations? Many students thought that the council doesn’t give out enough information about its policies and practices. One student thinks, “because the Honor Council doesn’t tell us their process, our imaginations go wild.” When I asked what she meant, she said “they sacrifice goats or something.” Other students said they knew nothing at all about how the council works, and others speculated that the council was “corrupt.” Initially I was confused. How could students not know what was going on? The Honor Council is supposed to represent the student body, to empower students to examine the rules of the school and to project students’ voices to how Latin treats cheating and bad behavior. This lack of voices was especially visible in the recent Honor Council elections, when only five people ran. The council hasn’t been able to keep students’ attention or interest them in joining. But this isn’t to say that they haven’t tried. On Thursday the 4th, there was an open meeting to “demystify” the honor council and disciplinary process at Latin. Lourdes Taylor made an announcement about the meeting in gathering, but only six students showed up, all current or future members of the council. Dozens of bagels and donuts went uneaten, and not a single non-member came to ask questions or give feedback. The council depends on student responses, and the “us vs. them” mentality among many of the students isn’t helping anyone. Members of Honor Council are just as mystified by the lack of interest among students as the students are with the policies of the council. One member of the council said that it can’t “work without response from the student body.” Students don’t feel represented and the council feels ignored. How can we fix this? For the council to be the best it can be, it needs students to participate. This participation “empowers students to make solid decisions and to uphold the values important to them,” according to a teacher involved with Honor Council. Of course, the council can’t control the students, and it feels like attempts to reach students and encourage this participation have gone unnoticed. As one member of the Council says, “put yourselves in Honor Council’s shoes. What should we do?”]]>