Top Nav Top Nav Footer Nav
Back toTop
Menu

Honor Council Constitution

Honor Council Constitution

  •  

    Article 1 - Membership

    1. The Honor Council (“Council”) shall be composed of three seniors, three juniors, three sophomores, and six at-large members without regard to class rank.

    2. The Council shall be elected by the Student Legislature, with recommendation by graduating senior Honor Council members, during the spring term following the annual report of the Council's activities. No member of the legislature shall be eligible for election to the Council.

    3. The Student Legislature shall fill vacancies in the Council when requested in writing by the President of the Council.

    4. A member of the Council shall be removed from the Council upon a finding that he/she violated the Honor Code. A member may also be removed for breaking the student conduct policies of the College.

    5. The Student Legislature shall select at least two alternate members of the Council without regard to class rank. The alternates shall participate in Council training and serve on the Council when requested by the President.

  •  

    Article 2 - Officers


    1. Each year during the spring term, a President, Vice President, and Secretary shall be elected by the incumbent Council from among its membership during the previous academic semester. Officer elections shall occur following the Council's election by the Student Legislature and newly selected members shall be present and given voice but not vote. The officers shall serve from the beginning of the next academic year until the end of that academic year.

    2. The President shall call and preside over Council meetings and deliver an annual report on the activities of the Council to the Student Legislature. The President shall decide all questions of procedure and interpretation arising under the constitution. A decision of the President may be overruled by a two-thirds vote of those members of the Council present and voting. At the hearing, the President's position shall be one of non-participation in deliberations and voting; however, the President may cast a tie-breaking vote. The President shall also serve on the Social Conduct Council.

    3. The Vice President shall act in the capacity of President in the absence of that officer and shall be responsible for publicizing the Honor Code. Unless acting as President at a hearing, the Vice President's position shall be one of participation in deliberations and voting. The Vice President shall also serve as President of the Social Conduct Council.

    4. The Secretary shall keep a tape recorded record of each hearing, a record of all findings of violations, including a brief summary of the facts of each case, and penalties imposed. The Secretary's position shall be one of participation in deliberations and voting. The secretary shall also serve on the Social Conduct Council.

  •  

    Article 3 - Dean of Students and Faculty Advisor


    The Dean of Students, or another person designated by the Vice President for Student Development (either such person hereinafter referred to as “Dean”), and a Faculty Advisor(s), selected annually by the Council, shall assist the Council and the Pre-hearing Committee in their activities other than participating in the determination to proceed to hearing, to reach a finding, to set a penalty, or to recommend reconsideration. The Dean and the Faculty Advisor may, however, observe hearings and reconsiderations. In addition, the Dean shall conduct the pre-hearing investigation of alleged violations of the Honor Code.

  •  

    Article 4 - The Honor Code


    1. Violations
      The following are violations of the Honor Code:

      1. Lying in official matters. “Lying in official matters” means the statement of an untruth or the falsification of official material with an intent to mislead administration, faculty, residence life staff, campus security, or Honor Council or Social Conduct Council members when acting in their official capacities. “Official material” means material having to do with course work, College administration, faculty, residence life staff, campus police, the Council, or the Social Conduct Council.

      2. Cheating. “Cheating” means either

        1. Giving aid to or receiving aid from any student or other source (i.e. books, notes, etc.) without the consent of the faculty member. Failure to sign the Honor Pledge is not a defense to a charge of cheating, or

        2. Plagiarizing, that is, the use of someone else's work, including but not limited to words, ideas, performing and/or visual art, music, or data derived through experimentation or investigation without giving that person credit. Ignorance of the definition of plagiarism is not a defense to a charge of plagiarism. It is the student's responsibility to consult the faculty member or, a Council member, or writing handbooks designated by the course instructor for the procedure for properly acknowledging sources.

      3. Stealing. “Stealing” means the act of intentionally taking or appropriating without the right or permission of any individual, organizational, or institutional property. The term includes, but is not limited to, stealing off campus, stealing from any person or business representatives on this campus, stealing from a computer company or any other computer-related theft, the telephone system, vending machines, a residence hall visitor, or any other business while it is on this campus, and removal of any material or equipment from the Birmingham-Southern College Library, Residence Halls, or other facilities without permission.

      4. Failure to report a violation of the Honor Code.

      5. Unless as an accused, failure to appear as a witness before the Council as requested by written notice.

      6. Failure to maintain confidentiality as required in Article 10 and Article 7 of the Social Council Constitution.

    2. Class I and II Violations

      1. The suggestion of Class I and II violations presupposes that there is a difference between instances where violations of the Honor Code have occurred or are alleged to have occurred. It is believed that a Class II violation classification will provide a mechanism to encourage greater faculty participation and to allow “teaching moments” within the Honor Council process. The purpose of creating a distinction between Class I and Class II violations is to make it possible to divide the jurisdiction between Class I violations (which require consideration by the entire Honor Council) and Class II violations (which may be reviewed by the Honor Council subcommittee identified in Article 10).

      2. Ultimately, the delineation between Class I violations and Class II violations will be determined by the extent of the violation and the intent of the student offender. While not exhaustive, below are several examples of violations which may constitute Class II violations:

        1. Lying to a professor about not attending class.

        2. Violations on assignments that constitute a small percentage of the course grade.

        3. Lying about attendance at Cultural Events.

        4. Instances of partial academic research citations which constitute plagiarism.

  •  

    Article 5 - The Honor Oath


    All students upon matriculation at Birmingham-Southern shall take the following oath:

    “As a member of the student body of Birmingham-Southern College, I recognize my responsibility to the traditions of the institution, to my fellow students and to myself. I recognize the significance of the honor system. I pledge that I have read and understand the Constitution of the Honor Council, including the Honor Code, and agree to be bound by its provisions.”

  •  

    Article 6 - The Honor Pledge


    On all work for which students are neither to give nor receive aid, faculty shall require students to sign the following Honor Pledge or its equivalent:

    “I have neither given nor received aid on this work, nor have I witnessed any such violation of the Honor Code.”

  •  

    Article 7 - Reporting a Class I or Class II Violation, Investigation and Prehearing


    1. Reporting a Violation
      Any student, faculty member, or staff having knowledge of a possible Honor Code violation must report it to the President of the Council, the Dean, or, in the case of class work, to the faculty member concerned. The accuser may also first approach the accused if he/she so desires, or he/she can simply report the violation. If, however, after approaching the accused, suspicion remains in the mind of the accuser, it is the accuser's duty to make certain that the suspected violation of the Honor Code is reported to the Council. Failure to report a violation of the Honor Code is a violation in and of itself.

    2. Investigation
      Upon notification of a suspected violation of the Honor Code, whether Class I or Class II, the Dean shall thoroughly investigate the reported violation. The Dean may interview all necessary persons including, but not limited to, the accuser, the accused, and any material witnesses. If the Dean believes the violation may be a “Class II” violation as defined in Article 4.B, the Dean may recommend that the violation be treated in accordance with the Honor Council subcommittee procedures of Article 10.A.

    3. Prehearing in Class I Violation Cases

      1. The Dean shall present all information concerning the possible violation with names omitted to the Pre-hearing Committee composed of one faculty member and two students elected annually by the Student Legislature. Members of the Honor Council may not serve on the Pre-hearing Committee. After all the facts have been considered, the Pre-hearing Committee shall decide by a vote whether or not a hearing, further investigation, or both are warranted. There must be at least two committee members in favor of a hearing in order to warrant a hearing or other action.

      2. Should the Pre-hearing Committee decide that the evidence is sufficient to warrant a hearing or the accused admit a violation has occurred, the President of the Council shall notify the accused, appoint a Council member to serve as advisor for the accused, appoint a Council member to serve as presenter, and set a time of hearing.

      3. The Provost of The College and the Vice President for Student Development shall be notified in advance of all Council hearing times and the persons involved in hearings.

  •  

    Article 8 - Rights of the Accused in Class I Violation Cases

    1. At the hearing, of cases involving Class I violations the accused shall be afforded the following rights:

      1. The accused shall be notified in writing of a hearing at least 72 hours prior to the hearing. This time period may be shortened upon the concurrence of the accused and the President of the Council. The hearing must take place within 10 class days from notification of the accused, unless the President of the Council grants a reasonable extension of time for extenuating circumstances. The accused does not have to appear at the hearing. In such case, the hearing will be held and evidence in support of the charges will be presented and considered as if the accused were present.

      2. The accused shall be given in writing an account of the charges against him/her, including the nature and circumstances of the alleged violation.

      3. The President of the Council shall assign the accused an advisor from the members of the Council (excluding the President). Rather than use the advisor appointed by the President of the Council, with reasonable notice to the President of the Council, the accused may select a willing student, faculty member or staff member of Birmingham-Southern College to serve as his/her advisor.

      4. The accused may call relevant witnesses to testify on his/her behalf. The defendant shall request in writing to the President of the Council that a request be issued to a relevant material witness. Any witness requested to appear who fails to appear before the Council shall be charged with a violation of the Honor Code. Reasonable notice must be given to any witness requested to appear.

      5. The accused may address and question the Council during his or her appearance before the Council.

      6. The accused may hear the testimony of witnesses called and may cross-examine them.

      7. The accused may call one or two character witnesses to testify on his/her behalf.

      8. The accused may consult in confidence only those within the prescribed bounds of privacy as described in Article 11.

      9. The accused may be found in violation only of that offense for which he/she has been accused.

      10. In cases in which two or more are accused of a joint violation, the Council shall arrive at an independent decision for each accused.

      11. The accused, whether found in violation of the Honor Code or not, may request that a summary of the case, with names omitted, be publicly posted.

      12. If found in violation of the Honor Code, the accused may appeal the finding according to Article 14.

      13. If the Honor Council cannot obtain quorum within the 10 days of notification by the President of the Honor Council, then the accused may delay the hearing until an appropriate date on which quorum can be reached. If the accused student pleads in-violation and requests to have the hearing within 10 days, the student may waive his or her right to pre-hearing committee evaluation, 72-hour notice, and quorum. The Class I sanctions hearing would occur with an advisor, presenter, and minimum of three members on the Council. If an accused student pleads not in-violation, then the case must go through a factual Class I hearing with quorum.

  •  

    Article 9 - Full Hearing for Class I Violations


    1. The procedure for a full Honor Council hearing in cases involving Class I violations shall be as follows:

      1. The President presides. In the absence of the President, the Vice President presides.

      2. Seven members of the Council, exclusive of the presenter, the advisor for the accused (should such advisor be a member of the Council), and the President of the Council shall constitute a quorum for a hearing.

      3. The hearing shall be taped, and the Secretary shall keep a record of the proceedings.

      4. The presenter shall present the case against the accused.

      5. The accused has the right to be present throughout the hearing except during the Council's deliberations as to the finding and penalty.

      6. The victim(s) of the alleged Class I violation as determined by the Council, if any, may be present at the hearing, call witnesses, and be informed of the outcome.

      7. No witness, other than the accused if he/she chooses to testify, shall be allowed to hear the testimony of other witnesses.

      8. Before testifying, every witness shall be reminded that their testimony is subject to the Honor Code.

      9. The Council shall call witnesses, consider the information presented, and question the accused should the accused choose to testify until it has exhausted every reasonable method of ascertaining the facts. The accused may choose not to testify.

      10. If the Council feels that an adequate decision cannot be reached without additional information or special consultation, then a motion can be made to table deliberations for a maximum of 72 hours.

      11. The Council shall not consider the accused's past convictions for violations of the Honor Code and/or Social Regulations or Policies in determining its decision, but may consider information concerning the offender's past violations, if any, in determining the penalty.

      12. Since the Council is not a legal body and procedures are not conducted in an adversarial manner, unless the alleged Class I violation of the Honor Code also constitutes a felony, an attorney may neither be consulted during the hearing, nor be present at a hearing, review, or reconsideration. If the alleged Class I violation of the Honor Code does constitute a felony, then the accused may be advised but not represented by his/her attorney during the hearing.

      13. The accused may call all relevant witnesses.

      14. The Council must act with complete impartiality. After consultation with the President, a Council member may be excused from a case where personal involvement may constitute a conflict of interest.

      15. 1The accused shall be considered innocent throughout the hearing until there is a finding that the accused has committed a violation of the Honor Code. Such a finding shall be based on clear and convincing evidence and by a majority of the Council present and voting. Otherwise, the case shall be dismissed.

  •  

    Article 10 - Honor Council Subcommittee Hearings for Class II Violations


    1. Honor Council violations meeting the following criteria — and thus designated “Class II” violations — will be handled by an Honor Council subcommittee hearing as provided in Article 10.C below. For a Class II violation to be eligible for Honor Council subcommittee treatment, each of the following criteria must be satisfied:

      1. The student violator, faculty member, staff member, or student filing the charge must consider the violation to be a “Class II” violation as defined in Article 4.B.

      2. Honor Council subcommittee members must consider the violation to be a Class II violation.

      3. The student violator must admit to having violated the Honor Code.

      4. The student violator and the party filing the charge must agree, in substantial detail, on the facts surrounding the violation, as well as on any proposed sanctions.

      5. The student violator must not have had any past Honor Code violations (Class I or Class II).

    2. The Honor Council subcommittee shall consist of three voting members as follows: Honor Council President, plus two at-large members of the Honor Council. The Dean of Students and the Faculty Advisor to the Honor Council shall serve in advisory roles to the Honor Council subcommittee.

    3. The procedure for Honor Council subcommittee hearings shall be as follows:

      1. The President of the Honor Council presides.

      2. Documentation submitted by the party filing the charge and the student violator will be reviewed to ensure that the criteria for the decision to be made by the Honor Council subcommittee satisfies the criteria set forth in Article 10.A.

      3. If the criteria required by Article 10.A have not been met, the case may not be heard by the Honor Council subcommittee and must be referred to the entire Honor Council for a full hearing. The decision to refer a case for a full hearing must be unanimous by the voting members of the subcommittee.

      4. If the criteria are satisfied for the violation to be heard by the Honor Council subcommittee, such Honor Council subcommittee may approve any or all proposed sanctions.

      5. If the criteria are satisfied for the violation to be considered by the Honor Council subcommittee, but revisions or additions to the proposed sanctions are recommended, the party filing the charges and the student violator will be contacting to approve any and all proposed revisions. If such proposed revisions are not approved by both the party filing the charges and the student violator, the matter will be referred to the entire Honor Council for a full hearing.

      6. If a full hearing is recommended by the Honor Council subcommittee, the President of the Honor Council will assign the student violator an advisor from among the subcommittee members who reviewed the student's case. The student violator is not obligated to accept the advisor from among the Honor Council subcommittee members who reviewed the student violator's case. Rather, the student violator has the right to select any willing student, faculty member or staff member of Birmingham-Southern College to serve as his/her advisor. The Presenter for the case will also be assigned by the President and chosen from the Honor Council subcommittee members who initially reviewed the case.

  •  

    Article 11 - Confidentiality


    An investigation, hearing, review, and reconsideration of any violation, whether Class I or Class II shall remain confidential and those within the bounds of confidentiality shall not divulge anything that is said or done with regard to these proceedings to anyone outside the bounds of confidentiality. Those within the bounds of confidentiality include Council members, the Advisor, the Dean, the Vice President for Student Development, the Provost of The College, the Dean of the Graduate Programs, the President of The College, accusers, the accused, witnesses, persons interviewed during the investigation, victims, and the attorney for The College. Should anyone outside the bounds of confidentiality receive information which is considered to be confidential, he/she will automatically be bound by confidentiality. In addition, the accused may include within the bounds of confidentiality his/her parents, faculty, staff, minister/spiritual advisor, personal or legal counsel. Should the accused or anyone designated by the accused to be considered within the bounds of confidentiality violate the requirement of confidentiality, the Council may vote to publicly post a summary of the case.

  •  

    Article 12 - Advisor to the Accused


    1. The Advisor for the accused, in any case involving a Class I violation, shall serve as the accused student's advocate until the conclusion of all proceedings. The Advisor shall meet with the accused following his/her selection in order to inform the accused of his or her rights granted under this Constitution, and to explain the nature of the accusation, the procedure of the hearing, and the possible outcomes of the hearing. The Advisor shall attempt to help the accused and the Dean identify the relevant issues which should be investigated and considered and to identify appropriate material witnesses. The Advisor shall assist the accused in preparation for the hearing, and may interview witnesses for the hearing in order to clarify the accused's position.

    2. The Advisor shall assist the accused for the duration of the proceedings, and shall endeavor during the hearing to question the witnesses and partake in the discussion for the benefit of the accused. It is important to understand that the Advisor is not a defense attorney for the accused and has no formal legal training. The duty of the Advisor shall be to advise the accused during all phases of the hearing and to see that all relevant information is presented.

    3. The Advisor will assist in coordinating the arrival and departure of the accused to and from the hearing.

    4. The Advisor shall be advised of the outcome of the hearing.

  •  

    Arrticle 13 - Penalties


    1. When determining a penalty in the case of a proven Class I violation or reviewing a potential penalty in a Class II violation case, the Council is responsible for assuring the effectiveness of the honor system for the Birmingham-Southern community. If the Council finds there has been a violation, a penalty shall then be decided upon by a majority of the Council present and voting.

    2. No recommendation for the imposition of penalties may be based solely upon the failure of the accused to answer the charges or not appear at the hearing.

    3. Penalties shall be determined as follows:

      1. The Council may impose the penalty of expulsion or lesser penalties depending on the individual nature of each case. The criteria used in determining penalties include:

        1. assuring the effectiveness of the honor system,

        2. the offender's ability to continue under the honor system,

        3. the severity of the offense,

        4. prior findings of the violations of the Honor Code, and/or

        5. extenuating circumstances.

      2. If the Council deems the offender capable of living in the Birmingham-Southern community and abiding by the Honor Code at some later point in time, then the penalty may be commuted to suspension. The penalty of suspension may be given for one, two, or three terms. In addition, the Council may impose such other penalties during or after the period of suspension as it deems appropriate including, but not limited to, prohibiting the student from representing the institution in any event, holding any student office, making restitution for misappropriation of property, receiving counseling or performing appropriate public service. Penalties imposed during suspension must be adhered to and/or completed before readmission to The College.

      3. After considering extenuating circumstances and/or severity of the offense, the Council may commute the penalty to probation. The penalty of probation may range from one semester to the duration of time the student is at Birmingham-Southern College. In addition, the Council may impose such other penalties during the period of probation as it deems appropriate including, but not limited to, prohibiting the student from representing the institution in any event, holding any student office, making restitution for misappropriation of property, receiving counseling or performing appropriate public service. Penalties and deadlines imposed for the period of probation must be adhered to and/or completed by the end of the probationary period. The completion of these penalties will be reviewed by the Dean of Students and may be referred back to the Honor Council to determine if the penalties have been completed in an appropriate manner. A determination that the penalties have not been appropriately completed may result in a continuation of probation and/or additional sanctions/penalties.

      4. In the case of a finding of a violation of the Honor Code regarding course work, the Council shall not recommend a grade, and the faculty member for such course shall give the student whatever penalty he/she deems appropriate. In the case the Council finds there has been no violation of the Honor Code regarding course work, the faculty member for such course shall not impose a penalty.

    4. The definitions of the penalties are as follows:

      1. Expulsion from The College means that the individual must leave the campus and shall not be eligible for readmission to Birmingham-Southern. A notation of the expulsion for a violation of the Honor Code shall appear on his/her permanent record.

      2. Suspension means that the individual must leave the campus and shall not be eligible for readmission to Birmingham-Southern until the end of the suspension term and upon the successful completion of all terms of suspension. Notation of the suspension shall appear on the individual's permanent record. Upon a written request to the President, the Council may consider whether or not to remove a notation of suspension on the individual's permanent record.

      3. Probation means that the individual must maintain a clear record for the duration of the penalty set forth by the Council. The duration of the probation may range from one semester to the end of a student's time at Birmingham-Southern College. During that time, the Council may impose other penalties during the probation period as stated in the Article 13.C.3.

  •  

    Article 14 - Appeals in Class I Violation Cases


    1. A written appeal from a finding by the Council in a Class I violation case may be made by the offender to the President of The College within five class days of the decision or before the last day of the term, whichever comes first. The President of The College may review the case personally or appoint a committee to review the case.

    2. An appeal shall be limited to a review of the full report of the Council, including the hearing transcript, for the purpose of determining whether it acted in accordance with procedural and substantive fairness. An appeal on the basis of substantive fairness may not contest the factual findings of the Council but is limited on the basis of the fundamental fairness of the penalty or the application of the standards of the Honor Code.

    3. An appeal may not result in a more severe penalty for the accused by the President or committee appointed by the President but may result in a reduction or removal of penalties without rehearing by the Council.

    4. An appeal in which the finding of the Council is reversed may be remanded to the Council for rehearing with a written opinion the reviewing authority.

  •  

    Article 15 -Reopening a Case


    No case may be reopened unless new information is discovered. Such information must have been unknown to the Council at the time of hearing. If a case is reopened, procedures shall be as if it were a new case.

  •  

    Article 16 - Bylaws


    The Council may, by a two-thirds vote of its membership, adopt whatever procedures it deems necessary that do not contravene this constitution to insure the effective execution of the Council's duties.

  •  

    Article 17 - Amendment


    An amendment to this Constitution shall originate in either the Student Legislature or the Honor Council and must be approved by two-thirds of the voting members of both bodies. Upon approval by the President of The College, the proposed amendment shall become effective.

  •  

    Article 18 - Ratification


    This Constitution shall become effective immediately upon approval by the Student Legislature and the Honor Council by a two-thirds majority of each body, and upon approval by the President of The College.