Town hall unbolts Honor Council doors

The Honor Council pledge hangs opposite the upper school administrative suite – Agustin Aliaga ’21

The Chairman seated at the head of the table poses the question to the Grand Jury: What consequences should this student receive? The jury pauses to reflect upon the five questions stated in the Honor Code, before voicing recommendations. 

     This is not a narration of one of the secluded and unspoken Honor Council hearings, but rather an account of an open Town Hall meeting Honor Council members recently facilitated.

     On November 20, the Honor Council held the first Town Hall. The meeting was set up in the dining hall conference room, and upper school students were invited to attend during their respective lunch periods. The enticement for students consolidated down to one thing: a rare window of honor Council transparency. 

     This exposure was one aspect that members of the Honor Council discussed at their board meeting at the end of the previous academic year.  

“We wanted to focus on how we could be more in touch and transparent with the community.”

Honor Council Chairman Matt Mignucci ’20

     “We wanted to focus on how we could be more in touch and transparent with the community, and we thought that a Town Hall setting would be a great way to accomplish that,” Sixth Form Chairman of the Honor Council Matthew Mignucci said.

     At the opening of the Town Hall, the council members explained to the attendees some of their plans for initiatives moving forward, including coordinating with the Character Mentorship Program to create a lunch-meeting program, similar to that currently provided to Third Formers, for the Fourth Formers. 

     Additionally, council members described the advancement of their ongoing effort to simplify the hearing process and to reflect on why Haverford’s Honor Code holds students to its specific values. 

     The initiative is connected to another one of the council’s missions for this year. 

     “The Honor Council has been very focused on the preventative measures and trying to work so that we can have as little Honor Council hearings as possible,” Mignucci said. “We have been working on being more vocal about the values of Haverford, having conversations with the community about what violates the Honor Code, and adjusting some parts of the process to make it less stressful for students during hearings. 

     The meeting continued with a mock Honor Council hearing designed to educate the attendees on the process of hearings so that the mystery of what actually happens during council hearings could be resolved. 

     The attendees positioned around the table acted as the Grand Jury for a series of cases presented to them by a member of the Honor Council. Students deliberated whether the situation was a violation of the Honor Code, as well as the appropriate consequences the violators should receive. Often times, the group of attendees disagreed with the actual Honor Council in terms of their classification of a violation and the recommendations of consequences, further presenting the necessity of having such meetings between students and the Honor Council.

“I was surprised to see how many people were confused about the process. That showed us how we have more work to do.”

Honor Council Chairman Matt Mignucci ’20

     “I think it was really productive for the students because they learned a lot about the process of the Honor Council and what is and is not an Honor Council violation,” Mignucci said. “I was surprised to see how many people were confused about the process. That showed us how we have more work to do.”

     Going forward, the Honor Council is looking to further its position on these initiatives and report on their progress in future Town Halls. The ensuing meetings will feature some differences, but; however, they will remain for the purpose of engaging the Honor Council members with the greater student body.

     Mignucci said, “We want to keep the central idea of an open-ended discussion where people can ask us questions and learn more about the Honor Council.”

Author: Jeffrey Yang '22

News editor Jeffrey Yang has written for The Index since 2018. His feature "Fords immigrants under the spotlight: Mr. Kan's citizenship odyssey" earned a Gold Key from the 2020 Philadelphia-area Scholastic Writing Awards.