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For immediate use

June 19, 2002 -- No. 351

Task force completes review of student judicial code

A task force appointed by Chancellor James Moeser has completed its review of the student judicial system at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The review stemmed from concerns about academic integrity and related issues with the completely student-run judicial and Honor Court systems. The task force considered input from a consultant as well from campus community members including faculty and students who were both involved and not involved in the current system.

Professor Marilyn Yarbrough of the School of Law and task force chairman, said the main focus of the panelís efforts was to devise proposals that would instill "a culture of honor" at Carolina.

Many members of the campus community donít know about the current systems, so task force members focused on how to increase awareness of academic integrity issues and to encourage both students and faculty to take the system and its consequences very seriously, she said.

Key issues the task force considered include proposals addressing the:

Standard of evidence used to decide judicial cases. The panel recommended a "clear and convincing evidence" standard instead of the current "beyond a reasonable doubt."

Length of time required to complete the judicial process and the current cumbersome nature of the student judicial instrument.

Educational value of the honor code. Includes a new grade of "XF" that would signal an academic integrity violation on a studentís transcript. That designation could be removed if the student completes a stringent academic course focusing on integrity, ethics, honor and related issues.

The report also deals with non-academic issues covered in the campus code. Such issues account for more than half of the cases currently going through the student judicial system, said Melissa Exum, dean of students. So how students relate to each other and to the community outside of the classroom also is crucial when considering a culture of honor, she said.

Moeser formally received the task force's report this month. He will refer the report back to Dr. Dean Bresciani, interim vice chancellor for student affairs, with a request for its recommendations to be reviewed by the Committee on Student Conduct, which oversees student judicial governance at Carolina. Moeser will ask that the committee seek input including hearings involving the Faculty Council and the Student Congress this fall and submit its final suggestions for action by Dec. 1, 2002.

Said Moeser, "The university community owes a debt of gratitude to Professor Yarbrough and all of the task force members for taking on these enormously complex issues of the judiciary system, our Honor Court and academic integrity.

"Now it will be important to involve the Committee on Student Conduct and a process this fall to receive additional feedback from faculty and students about how best to reform these systems," he said. "I encourage the campus community to participate fully in those deliberations and look forward to receiving the committee's final suggestions later this fall."

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Sources: Yarbrough, the task force chair, and Exum are receptive to follow-up calls from reporters. Yarborough can be reached at 962-8114 (o) or 932-7515 (h). Exum can be reached at 966-4042.

Reporters interested in receiving a copy of the task forceís report may contact News Services, 962-2091.

Contact: Mike McFarland, 962-8593