Letter to the Editor


To the Editor,

If you’re interested in Diversity and Equity Board Initiative (DEBI) and haven’t read the ASOC constitution all the way through at least eight times, I’d like to explain Honor Board’s role and where their recent actions fit and don’t fit within their constitutional jurisdiction. I served on Honor Board for four semesters and was co-chair in fall of 2013.

Honor Board does three types of activities to uphold Oxy’s Honor Code, which states: “No student shall take unfair advantage of another student or member of the Occidental Community” (Article V, Section 3A). The first two things Honor Board does (Conduct Councils and Academic Misconduct Hearings) are unrelated to DEBI. The third thing Honor Board does is hold Honor Board Hearings if there is an alleged violation of the Honor Code. The key word here is “alleged.” This means that it is not Honor Board’s job to go around guessing who is about to take unfair advantage of a member of the Oxy community. It is Honor Board’s job to hold an Honor Board Hearing if someone reports an alleged violation. This is why Honor Board’s Feb. 27 proposal that it review DEB’s efficiency for two semesters is beyond Honor Board’s jurisdiction. If there were an alleged problem with DEB, it would be reported and reviewed in an Honor Board hearing.

So why is Honor Board even involved with the DEBI vote? The ASOC Constitution also says that “Any proposed increases in the student body fee must be approved by the Honor Board” (Article IV, Section 4C). It’s Honor Board’s duty to vote yes or no on proposed increases to student body fees.

Here’s where we get into some murky water about Honor Board’s most recent statement on its Facebook page on March 28. Honor Board said that it would analyze the latest DEB proposal based on whether: “1) there is demonstrated need by the student body, 2) it merits an independent fund, 3) whether it will benefit the majority of the student body, 4) whether there is adequate oversight and accountability over the funds.” Criteria two and four are reasonable for Honor Board to consider, given the fact that Honor Board is required to approve the proposed increase to student body fees. Criteria one and three, however, are not within Honor Board’s jurisdiction because they pertain to whether or not we, as a campus, need DEB. That’s for students to decide when we vote for the creation of DEB this week. Again, if DEB allegedly violates the Honor Code, Honor Board will hold a hearing. For now, it is simply Honor Board’s job to approve or reject the student body fee. If the students pass the amendment creating DEB this week, Honor Board jurors should ask themselves, “Given the fact that the students have voted for the creation of DEB, is it reasonable to fund DEB with a $10 increase ($7 for the first two years) to the student body fees?”

We all need DEB, and unlike Henry Dickmeyer who expressed on March 24th that he sees teach-ins and open community meetings as somehow silencing our community, I see them as opportunities for us to voice our opinions and learn about DEB. Vote in the elections this week and stop by the quad on Thursday, April 2 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. to talk to students about why we need DEB. This is a really exciting opportunity for us to create the change that we want to see at Oxy. Hopefully, Honor Board will fulfill its duties stated in the ASOC Constitution and approve DEB’s budget. No more and no less.


Mikayla Branz