NESCAC Colleges evaluate academic integrity

In the past week, various NESCAC schools have demonstrated both their interest in politics and  their commitment to upholding academic integrity.
As part of Tufts University’s Tisch College Distinguished Speaker Series, former moderator of NBC’s “Meet the Press” David Gregory lectured on the intersection between media and politics in today’s world. In his talk, he articulated that the harsh backlash surrounding elections in the media is representative of “Americans’ collective frustration with traditional institutions of authority.” Gregory’s talk encouraged students to “keep an open mind” to the political process, and continued to foster an environment of political awareness at the school.
Politics have also been prominent at Bowdoin, where its trustees have been actively and generously donating to political campaigns, which illustrates to the students the importance of being politically active. Of the fifteen trustees who have contributed significant amounts of money to campaigns, “five have donated over $200,000” and six have primarily donated to Republican candidates. The large contributions to the GOP are “slightly [ideologically] unaligned with that of the student body,” which primarily favors Democratic candidates. Despite some ideological differences between the trustees and the students, the political activity of the trustees has sparked important conversations at the college.
The issue of climate change has  been at the forefront of politics today, and both Williams and Amherst have taken measures to focus on  the topic. At Williams, the President and Board of trustees have vowed to create a “campus-wide theme of inquiry” entitled ‘Confronting Climate Change.’ This initiative includes “two new faculty whose research focuses on climate change” and increased awareness surrounding climate change. The goal is that students and members of the faculty and board will ultimately become more  conscious of, and informed about, climate change in the world.
Three Amherst students attended the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris and shared their experiences at the conference with fellow students and former US Department of Energy advisor, John Larsen. The students took issue with several features of the conversations that occurred at the conference, including the underrepresentation of women and young people, and many talks centered around “climate migrants and indigenous rights.”
Trinity College has undergone a process to make significant reforms to the college’s “academic integrity policies” with a focus on “academic dishonesty.” Currently, if a student is suspected of academic dishonesty, the dean of students will deem if a hearing is necessary.. If deemed necessary, there will be a hearing with a panel, and after the panel makes its decision, the student is able to appeal. The goal of the new system is to cut down on the number of unreported instances of academic dishonesty. The new policy will give faculty members more power in terms of reporting occurrences of academic dishonesty. Students, however, are concerned that “departing from an honor code-inspired adjudicatory process, one which lends great credence to student perspective” may reduce their voice and independence.
Trinity is not the only school looking to assess their policies surrounding academic integrity. Hamilton College has taken steps to reevaluate their disciplinary points system, which was established in 2005. The review of the system will hope to take students’ views into consideration.

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