D&E students, leaders attend VMI conference

Representatives of the Davis & Elkins College Honor Council gained additional insight for establishing and enforcing honor codes during the 2013 Virginia Military Institute Honor Conference.

The conference focused on the theme “Building and Strengthening Honor Codes: Inspiring Honor and Respect.” It was a follow-up to the 2012 Biennial Leadership Conference that inspired D&E students to form a campus honor council. Funding for groups to attend both conferences was underwritten by D&E Trustee Joyce Allen and her husband, John.

Attending this year’s event were D&E Honor Council members Rhiana Bruce-Lyle, a sophomore from Kingstown, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines; and Lakota Jonese, a sophomore from Green Bank; D&E Vice President for Student Affairs Scott Goddard; and associate professor of psychology Dr. Jeff Rutter.

“The Honor Conference at VMI was an interesting and intense two-day conversation, and one that raised many important questions,” Rutter said. “Our mission at D&E depends largely on the virtues of our faculty, staff and students, and so the opportunity to have extended conversations on this topic was really awesome.”

Goddard and Rutter agree that the key to building upon D&E’s honor code is customizing a system that involves students, faculty and staff.

Various types of honor codes and ways to enforce them were outlined during the conference. Participants took part in a mock student honor court trial and worked in small discussion groups. They also attended workshops focusing on development of trust, due process, integrity and community education, among other topics.

Goddard said one idea brought back from the conference is to have D&E Honor Council representatives make presentations on topics of honor – such as avoiding lying, cheating and stealing – at local schools.

“The hope is to lay a foundation of honor at the elementary/middle school level,” Goddard said.

The D&E Honor Council was formed in the spring of 2012 after students attended a two-day conference at VMI. More than 75 percent of students later voted to endorse an honor code, and the Student Life Office selected a committee to help reach the goal.

“As Davis & Elkins College continues to move the honor initiative forward on campus, the second VMI Honor Conference was key,” Goddard said. “Rhiana and Lakota serve on the D&E Honor Council and are now poised and ready to step into leadership roles.”