The Honor Board was established to empower the Student Body with a direct voice in the application of the Honor Code. Although every student is responsible for upholding the standards of the community, some administrative responsibilities must be carried out by a representative body. The Honor Board is a committee of students and faculty charged with interpreting and applying consistently the spirit of the Honor Code.
The Honor Board’s role in the community is twofold: to educate the student body about the Honor Code and to adjudicate violations of the Honor Code. Broadening the student body’s understanding of the Honor Code is an equally, if not more important, role than that of arbitrating Honor Code violations.
Every Honor Board member must find a balance between being a regular member of the Pingry community as well as being an individual on the Board in charge of handling Honor Code violations. They must fulfill this obligation in a way that is neither overly passive nor overly preachy. Members should be visible leaders in the community, and a resource for their peers. Students should be comfortable in approaching members of the Honor Board, knowing that that no member of the Board will judge or try to ‘prosecute’ them.
Honor Board members are expected to meet at least once a month to discuss current goals and objectives. They are encouraged to come up with creative ways to promote the Honor Code in the community as well as discuss any ideas or questions that their peers may have.
A critical duty of Honor Board members is to stimulate discussion in the community about ethics and morality. One of the ways this is achieved is through collaboration with the faculty on the annual John Hanley Lecture Series. Members are expected to spend time with the guest speaker and to ask questions that stimulate thought about morals and ethics in their own lives.
In addition to these meetings, Honor Board members may be asked to come in before school to be a representative on an Honor Board Hearing. The number of hearings varies from year to year.
Adjudication of Cases
The Board serves the Pingry community by reviewing violations of the Honor Code and maintaining consistency in the application and interpretation of the Honor Code.
Not all violations of the Honor Code go before the Board. The Disciplinary Committee handles cases of a clear cut nature, where both the Disciplinary Committee and the student involved agree to have the matter resolved by the Disciplinary Committee. However, if the student involved wishes, or if the Dean of Student Life believes further investigation or discussion is warranted, the case will be presented before the Honor Board.
A student who has not had a prior Honor Code violation may choose to have their case heard by the Honor Board. There is no penalty in requesting an Honor Board hearing over a Disciplinary Committee meeting. Honor Board members are intended to serve as the voice of the student body and are not there to convict, judge, or punish.
Once it has been decided that an Honor Board hearing is required for a case, a quorum must be reached. The Honor Board consists of the Honor Board Advisor (the Upper School Dean of Student Life), the Chairperson , the Secretary, three Honor Board student representative from each form, and faculty members from each department.
For each hearing, we strive to have present the Honor Board Advisor (the Upper School Dean of Student Life), the Chairperson, the Secretary, one Honor Board student representative from each form, and three faculty members. At a minimum, we will have present the Honor Board Advisor, the Chairperson, the Secretary, three students and two faculty members.
Neither the Honor Board Advisor, the Chairperson, nor the Secretary are voting members of the Board. The Honor Board Advisor presents the facts of the cases and helps the Board gather information pertinent to the case. The Chairperson opens the hearing, mediates questioning and discussion, and makes motions to vote. The Secretary is responsible for taking attendance and notes during the hearing and deliberation process.
The student’s advisor is present for the questioning portion of the hearing. The advisor may speak on the student’s behalf, but is not a voting member of the Honor Board.
- Fact-Finding and Questioning
Once the Board has convened, the Chairperson will open the case by briefly explaining the process. The Chairperson will stress the importance of confidentiality and tell the student appearing before the Board that they are the only person who can break the confidentiality with their peers.
The Chairperson will then ask the Dean of Student Life to present the facts of the case with all of the accused student present. The student will be given the opportunity to correct, verify or add to the statement. In cases involving more than one student, the Dean of Student Life will individually bring each student into the room to clarify their situation.
Once the facts of the cases have been presented, the student(s) will be allowed to make a personal statement to the Board. This personal statement is the student’s opportunity to state their case and present “their side” to the Board. Afterward, the Board will be allowed to question the student(s). The questions are purely of a fact-gathering nature and are a chance for the student to better explain his or her actions and how he or she feels about the situation. The student’s word is always accepted as truth unless there is clear and persuasive evidence that the student is not telling the truth.
Once all questions have been answered, the student(s) and his or her advisor(s) leave the room so that the Board may deliberate. The ultimate goal of the deliberation process is to determine if the Honor Code has been violated, and if so, to recommend an appropriate consequence that will consider both the interests of the student involved and the interests of the Pingry community.
Once consensus has been achieved, the hearing will conclude and the Dean of Student Life will convey the Honor Board’s recommendation to the Headmaster. The Headmaster will consider the recommendation of the Honor Board and make the final decision regarding the consequences for the infraction.
All Honor Board members are required to maintain confidentiality within and outside the Honor Board. Because only one third of the Honor Board sits on a case, not every member will know the details of each case. If a case ever needs to be discussed in an Honor Board meeting, the members of the Board would only hear an outline of what happened, but would not hear specific details or the name of the student involved. Whatever is said within a case is never repeated, and the reports of cases are kept in a confidential file.