Latest Honor Council results reveal first reports of hard drug use in housing


Financial District, NEW YORK—Within the 2012-13 academic year, King’s had its first encounter with major drug use (cocaine and ecstasy) in housing and marijuana usage greatly increased, according to David Leedy, dean of students. A common theme of Honor Council hearings was that students who violated the Honor Code came to King’s “for the wrong reasons,” Leedy said.

There were six hearings spring semester, many of which involved multiple violators. Leedy said last year was difficult regarding honor not because of more Council hearings but because the issues were more serious than in past years.

Throughout the year, 22 students appeared before the Council for issues including plagiarism, assault and underage drinking. The Honor Council suspended six students and placed 16 students on disciplinary probation.

Students placed on disciplinary probation usually complete requirements, such as alcohol education programs, random drug testing, removal from campus housing, leaving a campus leadership role, counseling or psychological assessment, mandatory meetings with a House adviser and drug rehab programs.

photo by Cori O'Connor

Leedy said that while minor infractions can be resolved with a less formal sort of confrontation, situations brought before the Council count as “egregious violations” of King’s standards.

In response, King’s is taking steps to raise awareness about King’s standards among incoming students.

Luke Smith, associate director of the Admissions Department, said the school is focusing on finding “serious applicants.” Admissions has reintroduced essays to the application (one essay on virtue and one on the House system) and requires all applicants to respond to the King’s mission and how it connects with their values and goals.

Leedy believes this process will help both the school find appropriate students and students self-select their college.“They’ll understand what King’s is and whether they want to be a part of this or not," he said.

To educate students about honor before coming to King’s, the college also distributed a flyer called “Before You Sign The Honor Code.” Leedy will also write blog posts and host “town halls” to emphasize honor.

The Honor Council consists of one to two appointees from each house, three faculty members and three staff members in student development. At any given hearing there are six Council members: four students, one faculty and one staff.

This year the Honor Council members are Erika Hillardm, Jessica Lee, Sizakele Irvin, Damia Speagle, Sophia Bachmann, Allison O’Donnell, Elisa Lambert, Carol Anne Ausband, Emily Deemer, Maxine Webster, Carey Bustard, Leah Rabe, Ben Gotchel, Nigel DeCoopman, Daniel Poeana, Jonathan Burch, Luke Trouwborst, Caleb Kingma, Jeremi Gill and Mark Greben.

When asked what hearings involve, Jessica Lee ’14, third-year member of the Honor Council said, “It’s questions you would ask from a pastor to someone: ‘Let’s get to the root of why you’re doing this.’"

While punishment follows confirmation of charges, Lee continued, "It’s like, ‘Hey we care about you and we want to know why you are making these choices.’ It’s all about getting to know someone and helping them on their journey to becoming a better person.”

Leedy said the ultimate goal of the Council is “to uphold the standards of our community by assigning discipline to egregious violations of those standards.”

Not every student who attends a hearing will submit to the Council's goal.

“Most people are apologetic,” Lee said. “The hard part is seeing if  they’re genuinely apologetic or they’re just upset that they got caught.”