By Jethro Swain
This year, StuCo is unveiling their new, long time, and actually tangible work, the “Honor Code”, which aims to replace a large portion of the school handbook.
For those of you who don’t know the Honor Code is a work in progress at this point, and is a short, concise statement which encompases all of OES’ values and that OES students will be able to uphold. StuCo is reaching out and educating the student body to try and receive feedback about it this week.
As someone who (somehow) has to present in front of my entire grade about the Honor Code, I decided to get some further insight and dig deep into the OES handbook to see what the Honor Code is replacing.
Here are some interesting things I found that I believe are noteworthy, broken often, or overlooked. Sentences where there are quotation marks are pulled straight from the handbook, where there are no quotation marks is me paraphrasing:
Service learning projects are due on May 1 for seniors.
The school rule is you must be at school the entire day to participate in athletic events, but the OSAA rule is you only have to be in school half of the day.
“Students may not possess, use, purchase, sell, distribute or display alcohol or illegal drugs, either on or off campus. In addition, students who choose to remain present when alcohol and other drug rules are being broken may be subject to disciplinary action.”
Furthermore “If any student comes forward with concerns about his or her own abuse of alcohol or drugs, the use will be dealt with as a counseling/health issue, not a disciplinary issue (provided the student is not already under investigation for violating this policy). However, the student must comply with school rules regarding alcohol and drugs while receiving assistance.”
“You must not be in the presence of alcohol or drugs while at OES.”
“To ensure the safety of our children and families, as well as families in the Montclair neighborhood, drivers must strictly observe the 25 mph speed limit on Nicol Road.”
I’ve timed the drive from the top of Nicol to the dorms while maintaining the speed limit, and it takes two and a half minutes. While I was following one school rule by doing that, I was actually breaking another in that you can’t drive up the road to the dorms and back parking lot until after 6pm. Whoops.
Something else I noticed was that the word “punish” wasn’t in the handbook once. Under the section of “Major Rules” lists all of the major rules that are considered a major offense at OES. These include Dishonesty, Academic Dishonesty, Theft, Vandalism, Bullying, Hazing, Fire Safety Weapons and Flammable Materials, Harassment, Nicotine and Tobacco, Alcohol and Other Drugs, and Misuse of the Computers or the Network. Under all of these rules is the rule itself, the explanation for the rule, and the “consequences” of violating each rule. In every single one of the consequences categories reads: “Rule violations will be reported to a Dean of Students and the Head of Upper School.” That statement is all there is given in terms of “consequences”, with often an additional step depending on the specific rule (like a parent or advisor being contacted, or something being repaired in the case of vandalism, etc.), and a statement that says if the case is bad enough, it will be brought to the DC.
What that says, to me, is that the Dean of Students and the Head of Upper School have a lot of power and say in each punishment.
But that’s what the new Honor Code is aiming to improve. It will have an outside party decide if a case is worthy of being presented to the new “Honor Council”, which is just the new word for the DC. It promotes a sense of community and makes us hold each other and ourselves accountable for our actions. That way students feel they want to uphold the Honor Code for their own integrity, rather than to avoid punishment.
The current, rough form of the Honor Code reads: “As a member of the Oregon Episcopal School community, I commit to honesty, safety, and respect for others in my academic, extracurricular, and social pursuits.”
It remains to be seen how the student body feels about this new code. StuCo hopes to establish it as a long term fix to any confusion around the rules. After the presentations about the Honor Code, we’ll turn our attention back to the Student Body President campaign, where the candidates may want to pay close attention and learn about the Honor Code as it might come up in Monday’s debates, a hint that I’m disclosing at the end of this article to see how many of the candidates are reading the Dig.
To wrap up this article and sum up the Honor Code, in the words of the current Student Body President Daniel E., “The Honor Code has taken years to develop, but with this slow, critical development, a proper seed with great potential for improving student life at OES is now being planted and it’s up to the greater student body to decide whether they want to water this seed or not.”
For reference, Oregon’s Alcohol Laws for Minors: