Reed Resources: Honor Council

Note: Aliya Ghassaei is no longer on the Honor Council, but the Quest has received permission from the Honor Council to publish the following. 

The Quest sat down with Aliya Ghassaei, the former Community Engagement chair of Honor Council. 

We’re not taking a side at all in mediation, and people are sort of on equal footing when they come into the room.
— Aliya Ghassaei

The Honor Council is broken into three parts: mediation, conversations regarding honor, and resource referral. Mediation serves community members on the whole, “whether that’s students to students, faculty to students, staff to students.” The large portion of mediation is between students, but Honor Council mediation is available to “facilitate mediation between anyone.” Alongside meditation, the Honor Council aims to “not just talk about honor and what it means, but also have some concrete workshops and skill sessions so people can learn how to communicate better and really develop those skills more, because we do get trained in that and we would love to share it with the community.” Finally, Honor Council works on guiding community members to the accurate resources to find the help or support they need: “A lot of people know that we have a lot of resources but they don’t know them or know what they do, so we’re there to lay it all out for you so you can pick the best route for you.”

The switch from Honor Groups to Accountability Groups came down to accessibility. “[Community members] were confused as to what each different group did, and they kind of assumed that we all did the same thing.” Ghassaei continues on to describe the need to differentiate that the groups don’t all engage with honor in the same way or provide the same services to community members. “The thing that we all have in common is accountability, and we’re all different forms of conflict resolution, but we go about it in different ways. So we were trying to rebrand ourselves as: we all do accountability in some way, but we are also distinct, and not all of us talk about honor in the same way. 

The Honor Council emphasizes their neutrality and impartiality. “We are empathetic and have training in nonviolent communication and can validate your needs and your experience, but we’re still neutral and impartial. We’re not taking a side at all in mediation, and people are sort of on equal footing when they come into the room.”

The Honor Council doesn’t handle three types of conflicts: disputes over academic integrity, interpersonal violence, and sexual misconduct. Outside of those, “There’s a pretty wide range of what we can do… Also anyone can come into our office hours just to talk or to learn about mediation.”

Ghassaei wants students to know that despite some conceptions of the Honor Council, they aren’t a formal group at all, and that “engaging with us is not any sort of commitment to a formal process. We’re just fellow students, and we’re interested in talking to you. We want to be here for you.”

Quotes have been edited for clarity. 

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