Tyrone Scafe '17 on the 8+4 Referendum

 

The 8+4 Referendum is an initiative to increase student engagement with the Honor Code by randomly selecting 4 students (one from each class year) to serve alongside the Honor and Discipline Committee on each case. I recently sat down with Tyrone Scafe ‘17, one of the campaigners for 8+4, to discuss the development and intended impact of the referendum.

MO: Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you became involved with 8+ 4.

TS: I am currently a junior and I spent this past fall semester and winter study on College Council. I was actually roped into the 8+4 campaign through a group of friends who were collectively interested in helping us maintain the Honor Code and that interest actually stems  back to conversations that were held last year with the chairs of the Honor and Discipline Committee, Tyler Sparks and Jack Hoover. And so, as a class representative, I felt this was something important to spread throughout my class and also to the rest of the school. Through those conversations and through engaging with the school and the Honor Code, I became a part of this process.

MO: Could you briefly describe what the referendum is and how you hope it will affect student relationships with the Honor Code?

TS: Currently, the way the Honor and Discipline Committee is structured is that there are  8 members, two from each class year. The eight members are elected at the beginning of the year and they serve a full year term. The only time students really interact with the Honor Code is when they have an Honor Code infraction. Over the past 4 to 5 years, there has been a steady increase in appearances in Honor Code violations. A lot of the conversations I was a part of felt that this was a result of a lack of [student] engagement with the Honor Code and so we came up with this idea that a jury duty type of  model would be able to rope in more people and get them more engaged with the Honor Code by actively sitting in on cases and learning about the details. There were about 53 cases this past year and if you are randomly selected from the student body to serve on a case, there is a 10% chance that you will be involved in one of these cases. So this is a really good way to reach the entire campus. That is what 8+4 is in its current iteration and hopefully this will be the last step before we see a rise in student engagement with the Honor Code, which was originally a student-led initiative. It’s up to us to maintain our commitment to the Honor Code.

MO: I’m sure you’ve heard of some students’ hesitation to approve the referendum and I think it largely centers on the issue of privacy. So far the Honor and Discipline Committee has done a good job of being discreet about cases, and so if you have students rotating in and out of the committee, how do you plan on preventing the possibility of one of these students slipping up and disclosing private information about the case?

TS: Currently, the Honor and Discipline Committee maintains its level of discretion through a sort of unspoken rule. They don’t sign confidentiality statements, there are no written agreements that they won’t talk about cases. If anything, I think this 8+4 referendum will increase this confidentiality because now all 12 of the serving members will have to sign confidentiality statements and currently we have things in place for no-contact orders which a student will face sanctions for violating that will help mitigate issues around confidentiality. I think there are also efforts to instate that if someone violates the confidentiality agreement or no-contact order, they will have an Honor Code violation themselves as a result.

MO: It seems pretty clear what you have planned if the referendum passes--what will you do if it doesn’t?

TS: I think it is very important to note that I am not the only person working on this, so it is something that has a lot of traction. In the case that it doesn’t pass, hopefully it will be because students voted “No” and not because students didn’t vote at all. There would need to be conversations about ways that we can engage students with the Honor Code and lower Honor Code violations. There will be a lot of attention towards First Days and upperclassmen educational engagement with the Honor Code. Some people have proposed that incoming freshman take online tutorials that informs them of the Honor Code, and I think similar initiatives would be integrated into orientations for upperclassmen as well.

Voting polls close tonight (2/27) at 8pm. If you haven’t casted your vote already, make sure you do!