Freshmen Learn about the Upper School Honor Council

What is the Honor Council? The student-run Honor Council in Upper School investigates, holds hearings with the students involved, and offers recommendations based on precedent to the Deans and Head of Upper School when students plagiarize, cheat, or are otherwise dishonest in their academic work. This week in Advisory, our newest Upper Schoolers learned all about the Council. Hear all about their introduction to the Council from Honor Council Co-Head Cal Barton ’21 who has written the summary on Monday’s meeting below!

Many students like to think the Honor Council sits around a table hidden away in some dark room, chanting incantations and deciding students’ fates. We do sit around a table, but the reality isn’t so grim.

Normally, the Honor Council gives a presentation in Brauer Hall to the 9th grade about how the hearing process works. The Honor Council would, in years past, sit on stage and present a mock hearing to the freshmen, exposing the inner workings of the Honor Council process. This year, since such a congregation would be problematic, we decided to bring the Honor Council experience to the 9th grade through an interactive role-playing activity.

Outreach to the 9th grade is especially important because it takes time to get the freshmen to see the Council as a group of advocates rather than those incantation-chanting dark room dwellers. On Monday, in every 9th grade advisory, students acted as members of the Honor Council and faculty members. One student in each advisory played the role of Student X, a teenager guilty of directly copying parts of their English essay from online sources without proper citations. As a group, each advisory would walk through the hearing process: the teacher would report what caught their eye about Student X’s work, Student X would explain that they were stressed out due to sports and turned to plagiarism, and the collective group would talk through what punishment the Honor Council should recommend to the Deans.

Following the roleplaying activity, there were some great discussions about academic integrity at MICDS, and, in every advisory, every student spoke—a difficult feat to accomplish with advisories that have only been together for a couple of months!

I’m hopeful that this activity will exist beyond COVID-19 because it propels Honor Council transparency to exciting new heights; 9th graders got to see some Honor Council philosophies in a new light. The Honor Council likes to think that “bad people” don’t exist—there are only good people…and good people in bad situations. The Honor Council exists to make students aware of those bad situations and help them out of tough spots when needed.

Thank you for advocating for honesty and integrity in the Upper School, Honor Council!