Wednesday, November 15, 2000

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

The Daily Gazette

Wednesday, November 15, 2000
Volume 5, Number 44


Read the coed housing proposal online!
Visit the Daily Gazette web site at http://daily.swarthmore.edu

NEWS IN BRIEF

1) Students express reservations about proposed honor code
2) Housing committee supports proposal for limited coed housing
3) World news roundup
4) Campus events

SPORTS IN BRIEF

1) World sports roundup
2) Today’s and tomorrow’s contests

WEATHER FORECAST

Today: Mixture of clouds and sunshine. Highs near 50.
Ok, this whole cold thing is getting out of hand.

Tonight: Clear. Lows in the low 30s.
It’s one thing when it’s winter time, but we’re still months away from Christmas.

Tomorrow: Mostly sunny. Highs in the mid 50s.
Wow, I really am deluding myself, aren’t I?

TODAY’S SHARPLES MENU

Lunch: Chicken croquetts, mashed potatoes, *homestyle tofu, peanut noodle, peas and onions, California blend
**Bagel bar

Dinner: Grilled flank steak, steak fries, *pasta sauteed with fresh greens, eggplant with feta, asparagus, corn
**Pasta bar

NEWS REPORT

1) Students express reservations about proposed honor code

Possibly spurred on by the free coffee provided by Student Council, but more likely primed for a heated discussion, a large number of students turned out to discuss Jared Solomon ’01 and Horatiu Stefan ’01’s proposal for an academic honor code at Swarthmore.

While a few students expressed support for the proposal, most of those who spoke out were critical of the idea.

Criticisms were of three major types; that the honor code was unnecessary, that it would not solve the problems it was designed to address, and that instituting it would actually do more harm than good.

Dann Nasseemulah ’02 was of the opinion that an honor code would not be necessary at Swarthmore. “I believe that there is an implicit unwritten honor code that is part of the community here,” he said, “and to codify those values in a piece of paper would undermine the trust that exists here.”

Other students agreed, stating that an honor code would actually increase distrust between faculty and students. This could lead to more use of websites like www.plagiarism.org among professors to check on students’ work because the existence of an honor code seems to imply the need for one.

Solomon and Stefan responded that there is an increased need for an honor code, citing six cases of plagiarism reported to the College Judiciary Committee (CJC) last semester, compared with only one or two cases in previous semesters.

Another student at the meeting pointed out that while many students may feel that there is an implicit honor code at Swarthmore, this is by no means universal. The honor code would bring issues of academic integrity to the attention of those students to whom they are not already important.

Perhaps the most frequently expressed sentiment at the meeting was skepticism that an honor code would have any impact on such uncommitted students. Several students said that forcing all incoming freshmen to sign a piece of paper will not instantly instill honesty in people who are inclined to cheat. Marvin Barron ’02 was a member of this camp.

“I think that academic integrity is very important,” Barron said, “and I actually think that it’s too important to address it with what would essentially be a toothless document.”

Stefan and Solomon agreed with this point, saying that the document itself would only be the first step in a process of discussion and education which would also include a workshop for freshmen with the CJC and discussions in introductory classes about what academic honesty means at Swarthmore.

Barron and others contended that the only way for an honor code to have real meaning would be to increase the trust and responsibility given to students in various academic situations.

One of the ways of achieving this, suggested by the current proposal, is to offer self-scheduled and self-proctored exams at the end of each semester. Under this system, students could take their exams anywhere on campus anytime during exam period so long as they promised only to spend the allotted amount of time and not to cheat.

While many students seemed to like the flexibility of self-scheduled exams, several criticized the idea of self-proctoring as unfair to professors in that it would stifle their freedom to give the type of exam they deemed appropriate for particular classes.

“There’s already a lot of flexibility in the types of exams that are given here, and lots of self-proctored take-home exams go on even without an honor code,” Barron said. “Forcing all professors to give three-hour self-proctored exams would standardize things too much, because that type of exam just isn’t right for every type of class.”

Several students pointed out particular problems which they foresaw the honor code creating. For one, the increased opportunities for cheating would lead to increased instances of cheating, and this would put honest students in classes which grade on a curve at a disadvantage, actually increasing their incentives to cheat.

Second, as a Swarthmore graduate who now works in admissions pointed out, many students apply to Swarthmore instead of an institution like Haverford with a pervasive honor code because they appreciate the respect for individual choice and judgment which the lack of an explicit honor code implies. Introducing an honor code would alter the types of students that Swarthmore would attract in the future.

Third, many felt that while students would not be required to turn others in for cheating or plagiarizing, the fact that they would be encouraged to do so would create competition and distrust among students that would be detrimental to Swarthmore’s culture.

Finally, one freshman commented that he was concerned that by “putting our foot in the door” with this academic honor code, Swarthmore would be paving the way for a more all-encompassing honor code similar to the one at Haverford. His fear was that “by the time I’m a senior everything you do at Swarthmore, whether it’s academic or social or in extra-curriculars, will be dictated by the honor code.”

Solomon and Stefan say that the issue of an honor code will ultimately be brought to a student body vote, but that the next step will be to have another meeting of both students and faculty to address concerns about the honor code in particular and academic integrity at Swarthmore in general.

– Karla Gilbride

2) Housing committee supports proposal for limited coed housing

“The Case for Coed Rooming.” That’s what Tim Stewart-Winter ’01 called his proposal for coed housing at Swarthmore that he submitted to the Housing Committee. So far, he’s making a good case.

The Housing Committee temporarily okayed the proposal, supporting the idea, but leaving it open for student opinion and discussion in the college community. A press release stated, “As it stands now, Housing Committee supports the idea of allowing coed housing in the Lodges, Roberts, Palmer and Worth. All rooms would have the option of being coed although they are not required to be.”

Stewart-Winter’s proposal makes the claim that “Mandatory same-gender rooming is heterosexist, in that it fails to account for the comfort of gay, lesbian, and bisexual students.” He says that for queer students, factors such as attraction and homophobia make the usually complicated issues of roommate compatibility even more problematic.

He cites a changing society, one in which previously held truths about gender roles are being questioned, as further reason to change the college’s policy. “In previous decades, interracial rooming was forbidden in college dormitories,” the proposal states. “Just as mainstream assumptions about race have been transformed, we now live in a world in which traditional assumptions about sex and gender are being reassessed.”

Stewart-Winter further claims that coed housing options would fit with Swarthmore’s Quaker tradition of social conscience and social change. The housing policy has changed a great deal over the years, he says, and this would simply be the latest in a long line of socially-conscious moves on the part of the school. “Changes that we take granted today – such as coed dormitories and halls, no restrictions on visiting hours, and the availability of safer sex supplies – were once highly controversial,” the proposal says.

The Housing Committee will have an open meeting Monday, November 20 at 7:15 p.m. in the Parrish Third Floor classroom. This will be an opportunity for students to come and voice their opinions about this matter. For those who can’t make it but still want to be heard, comments are welcomed via phone or email to Myrt Westphal, Dean of Residential Life (mwestph1). The Housing Committee Interns, Sabrina Parra-Garcia (sparrag1) and Michelle Mizumori (mmizumo1) are also welcoming comments.

**You can read the full text of Tim Stewart-Winter’s proposal on the Daily Gazette Web Site.

– Jeff Heckelman

3) World news roundup

Bush by 300, more to come.

In other news, after spending the last few days with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, President Clinton said his biggest regret as he leaves the presidency may be his failure to bring peace to the Middle East, something he “really wanted with all my heart.” Clinton also spent time in Asia Tuesday, assuring world leaders at a farewell summit that the United States is stable and unshaken by the current election turmoil.

Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt laid out a $441 million plan Tuesday to restore Yosemite National Park to a more natural state over the next twenty years by getting rid of many parking spaces, tent cabins and one of the most heavily used roads running through Yosemite Valley. “My problem is not too many people. It’s too many cars,” Babbitt said.

Johnny Paul Penry, a condemned murderer with an IQ of 50 to 60, and the reasoning capacity of a seven-year-old, will be executed by lethal injection Thursday night in Livingston, Texas. Penry raped a woman and stabbed her to death at her East Texas home in 1979. The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles on Tuesday denied Penry’s request for a 30-day reprieve and a commutation to a lesser sentence. Gov. George W. Bush could grant a one-time, 30-day reprieve for Penry to pursue further appeals, but his spokesperson said he will not decide until all court appeals have been exhausted.

4) Campus events

“Hereditary Diseases in Companion Animals” by Dr. Urs Gieger, University of Pennsylvania School of Vet Medicine.
Kirby Lecture Hall, 4:15 p.m.

“The Crisis in Palestine – Eyewitness Reports”
Kohlberg 116, 4:15 p.m.

French Movie Night
Kohlberg 116, 7:00 p.m.

Screening of Stand and Deliver
Kohlberg 334, 7:30 p.m.

Italian Movie Night
Kohlberg 330, 8:00 p.m.

Ruach Movie: Liberty Heights
Trotter 301, 8:00 p.m.

Film Society Screening
DuPont 161, 10:00 p.m.

Folk Song Sing-Along
Parrish Parlor – West, 10:00 p.m.

SPORTS UPDATE

1) World sports roundup

Randy Johnson captured his second consecutive Cy Young Award and the third of his career, earning 22 of 32 first place votes for 133 points. Atlanta’s Tom Glavine finished second with 64 points. …Patrick Ewing played the first game of his career against the New York Knicks on Tuesday. He scored 10 points and added nine rebounds, though he was outplayed by Knicks center Marcus Camby, who had 20 and 17. Ewing had the last laugh, however, as the Sonics beat the Knicks 96-75. Ewing also passed Charles Barkley for 13th place on the all-time scoring list during the game. …In another first, Indiana University, played its first game under new head coach Mike Davis. Bobby Knight’s former team defeated Pepperdine 80-68 in the preseason NIT contest.

2) Today’s and tomorrow’s contests

There are no contests scheduled for today or tomorrow.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“It is time to end these tactics and move ahead with what we all want, which is a timely count of these votes.” — William Daley, Gore campaign chief.