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Council backs Community Standard for integrity

The Arts and Sciences Council and the Engineering Council approved the new Community Standard--intended to simplify and unify the University's honor code and Fundamental Standard--at a joint meeting of the two faculty bodies May 2.

The new policy combines the two codes into an overarching standard, but makes distinctions between sanctions for academic and social infractions. The Community Standard also mandates a more stringent obligation to report violations, eliminates the requirement for proctored exams and officially recognizes faculty-student adjudication.

Under the current system, the honor code addresses academic dishonesty, and the Fundamental Standard holds students responsible for a basic respect for others.

The University's current judicial code will remain in place, but the range of sanctions for violations will be widened and further scaled.

Judith Ruderman, vice provost for academic and administrative services and Academic Integrity Council chair, said there will be a one-year education and training period before the policy goes into effect in fall 2003.

Although the proposal was previously debated by the councils at their April meeting, faculty still raised objection to specific components of the plan.

"[The obligation to report] sounds scary to me," said Nestor Schmajuk, associate professor of psychological and brain sciences. "Are we going to tell our students that when [they] go out into the world, [they] are going to tell on [their] neighbors?"

Ruderman responded by pointing to Duke Student Government's April approval of the policy as a telling sign because she felt the issue would be harder for students to accept than faculty.

"What makes this work is that the students are being governed by their peers," she added. "They have an obligation to uphold the standards of the community."

Other council members took issue with faculty-student adjudication and reconsideration of current medical excuse procedures, another aspect of the plan. One professor said that involving faculty members in adjudication is an invitation for inconsistent enforcement and for plea bargaining.

Professors in the math and biology departments also objected to continuing the discussion of whether to eliminate deans excuses, a controversial issue that has been at the center of debate across campus since the Honor Council, an undergraduate body, recommended the change in April.

Ruderman, however, reassured faculty that approving the measure would signal a desire for further discussion, not a final decision on the matter.