Task Force to Consider Student Accountability

 

By Jenny Chen '13J
 

Basketball co-captain Jonathan Kalin ’14 knows his teammates don’t need rules to motivate them to work out in the off-season. That motivation stems from a culture where players feel accountable to each other and responsible for the team’s success.

This fall Kalin joined the newly created Accountability Task Force to help explore how this sort of culture can be more intentionally integrated into the Colby experience. 

The task force comprises five Colby trustees, five faculty members, and five students. “We were very clear that it would be equal parts students, faculty, and trustees,” said Dean of Faculty and Vice President of Academic Affairs Lori Kletzer, head of the academic-integrity subcommittee. “The people who live here are the centerpiece, and a community commitment to [accountability] has to be owned by the students.”

Many students chosen to be on the committee are visible leaders on campus who have already shown an interest in shaping a campus culture of greater accountability. Kalin helped start Mules Against Violence and Party with Consent, campus groups that raise awareness of sexual violence and challenges gender roles at Colby. 

Morgan Lingar ’13 worked with a group of students gauging student opinions of accountability and a possible honor code. Last fall this group received more than 500 completed surveys, an unusually strong response, Lingar said. Responses expressed different and often opposing viewpoints. “We have to recognize that the campus contains such a variety,” she said. 

Conversation is an important step toward greater accountability, Kletzer said. “We don’t talk enough about [academic] integrity,” Kletzer said. “There’s room to be clearer.” She said that often the conversation around academic integrity is negative and reactive to some incident of academic dishonesty. 

“We’re trying to imagine it as proactive and positive.” 

Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students Jim Terhune, whose office deals with social life on campus, also said he wants the process to be a positive one. “Making rules isn’t what changes behavior,” he said. “It’s not about disciplinary action.”

Terhune hopes the effort will lead to a meaningful campus conversation surrounding these issues and helps students identify and implement the changes that need to take place.

“There has been a real appetite for a kind of accountability that is positive and fits with our values,” said Julie Sands Causey ’85, a Colby trustee and the task force chair.

 
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