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Setting intentions: Q&A with senior Honor Education Council members on goals for year

Photo credit: Francie Wallack
Honor Education Council members discuss ethical dilemmas at one of their general sessions. Senior members of HEC said their current main goal is transparency and connection with the community.

Each new school year poses a new set of ethical questions and dilemmas for Archer’s Honor Education Council. As the 2023-2024 school year begins, HEC members continue to brainstorm goals and intentions for their leadership and ethical practices this year.

HEC, comprised of three students from each upper school grade, aims to uphold Archer’s core values of integrity, empathy and responsibility by educating students about the rules and practices outlined in the handbook and honor code. When students violate these rules, the council holds private hearings in which they and the deans of culture, community and belonging will determine a justified consequence.

Every year, HEC elects one of the three senior members to be the chair of the council. This year’s senior chair is Alejandra Cortes, who has been a member of HEC since ninth grade. She serves alongside senior members Jullie Cach and Sylvie Olmstead.

The Oracle sat down with Cortes, Cach and Olmstead to hear their personal and overall goals for HEC’s presence on campus this year.

How are you hoping or planning to connect with the community throughout the year?

Alejandra Cortes [AC]: This year, we’re hoping to host more presentations schoolwide. We’ve already started off this week with a presentation within each grade. Our main goal is to be more transparent, so that people are more familiar with our faces and know that we are not the campus police. By being more public, we hope to break less records this year in terms of hearings. That’s our main goal.

Sylvie Olmstead [SO]: I think we’ve been behind the scenes these past few years. However, we want to show that we are representatives of our grades, and we want to help the community by being more transparent with the hope to be less intimidating [to the student body] or as you said, the police, because we’re not that whatsoever.

What is HEC planning on doing to further instill the rules in the honor code and mission statement this year?

[SO]: I think definitely just more presentations and transparency. I think a lot of people when they imagine academic dishonesty, it’s just very straightforward like copying [and] pasting something or looking over someone’s test, but there’s a lot of nuance to a lot of the cases we see … So just being more transparent and encouraging people to come to our mock hearings and just discuss ethics inside Archer and outside will help people understand the full scope of academic dishonesty and the different meanings of it.

Jullie Cach [JC]: We’re just there as a resource for them — just making sure, especially with the new AI thing, that you’re learning yourself and you’re growing as a person and as a student in the community. The rules are in place to help you.

[AC]: One of the things that I’ll be working on as senior chair is working with the department chairs to review the consistency of the AI policy so that students are more clear on what’s allowed in their classes so that there aren’t any errors that students commit.

How do you envision HEC empowering the message of “striking brilliance” to the community?

[AC]: Right now, we don’t have any set plans. But I think that if we have more presentations, then we would just reiterate the fact that you don’t need to be the best. You can just do your best, and that’s all that matters.

[SO]: I was going to say the same, especially with the AI policy that we discussed earlier this week. People have access to things that may tempt them to commit academic dishonesty because it helps aid them with their writing.

[AC]: I also think that one of our goals can be to promote resources at Archer. For example, PAWS is open to upper school, or just emphasizing that teachers are there to help you if you’re ever struggling, so students shouldn’t be afraid to reach out for help.

What are the council’s plans for this year while handling unethical situations related to the use of artificial intelligence?

[AC]: I think it really just comes down to the class syllabus. If it clearly states that you can’t use AI in a certain class like for example for English, and you decide to use ChatGPT to write your entire English essay, but it says you can’t do that, then we would go based on the syllabus of the class.

[SO]: That’s really the key right now: consistency.

[JC]: We just really hope that students get better at understanding their strengths and knowing that they can do things without any outside resources.

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About the Contributor
Francie Wallack
Francie Wallack, Multimedia Editor
Francie Wallack joined the oracle in 2022 and returned as multimedia editor in 2023. Francie is a representative on Student Council, she is on the Ambassador Leadership Team advisory board, and is a member of the Jewish Student Union executive board. In her free time, she enjoys hanging out with her friends, volunteering at Teen Line and playing tennis.

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