At its last meeting of the semester on Tuesday, the College Faculty discussed both Oberlin's honor code and updated proposals for the new science center to be constructed.
Seven members of the Student Honor Committee came to field questions from the Faculty regarding the honor pledge, since problems often arise during exam time.
"The Oberlin honor code is a really special and rare thing. Only a few small liberal arts colleges have something like this," sophomore Danielle Hirsch said.
The committee members, whose job it is to review complaints filed about students who allegedly break the honor code, emphasized the importance of good communication between professors and students during exam time.
"We typically see problems occurring with take-home exams, where the students didn't intend to cheat-it was just a situation that was unclear," sophomore Josh Walker said. He suggested that faculty members specify what would be defined as "collaboration" on an exam, to prevent students from unknowingly breaking the honor code. "It's very sad to have to penalize someone for an oversight," he said.
Several faculty members commented that they have encountered students who do not know the wording of the honor pledge, which reads "I have neither given nor received aid on this examination." These students therefore either write the pledge incorrectly or omit it altogether from exams, according to faculty.
Walker pointed out that once students enroll at Oberlin, it is assumed that all work submitted for credit has been done under the honor pledge. "In a sense it's kind of redundant to sign and write the pledge again on work," he said.
Junior Sara Selig discussed plans for the committee's web site, currently under construction, which will serve as a resource for students interested in learning about specific departmental requirements on papers and exams. The web site will serve as the supplement to a how-to booklet the committee is putting together to aid students in staying within faculty guidelines.
The booklet and web site are part of an ongoing effort by the committee to educate students about the honor code and pledge. Members also discussed a new addition to this year's orientation, in which first-year students were taught the honor pledge, and mentioned plans to expand education to include upperclass students who have not yet encountered the honor pledge.
Faculty members then turned their attention to presentations of recent developments in plans for the science center the College plans to build within the next several years.
Professor of Biology David Benzing discussed the history leading up to plans for the science center, explaining the construction of scientific facilities in general and renovations specific to Oberlin throughout the decades.
He began his time-line with the 1961 construction of Kettering and ended by describing the 1989 request by Oberlin's Natural Sciences Advisory Committee (SAC) that the College evaluate and renovate its science facilities.
"Oberlin College has a larger science faculty and more students than there is space designed for science," Benzing said. "The way science is done has changed dramatically...one major change is that students now want to work in overall smaller groups and need smaller spaces than the large laboratories of Kettering. Those spaces are long obsolete."
He added that many small colleges with whom Oberlin competes in recruiting students, have recently built new science facilities. He cited Amherst, Middlebury and Grinnell Colleges as examples of schools with updated science technology.
Architect Bob Schaffner, who helped design Middlebury's new science facilities, presented slide-show models which illustrated his Boston firm's proposed science center design.
"The new facilities would become an extension of Wilder Bowl, so the academic campus would extend across the street to include the sciences. This takes out the so-called Great Wall of Science that is Kettering," Schaffner said.
Additional plans include demolishing half of Kettering, including the current science library, and building pods of research labs and a larger library, linking Severance Hall to an upgraded Wright Physics building, adding a commons space for students, faculty and staff to informally gather, renovating Sperry and demolishing the South Wing of Barrows to make room for the changes.
Schaffner assured faculty members that although North Bowl would be smaller due to the new facilities, "North Bowl is still of ample proportions. A frisbee can still not travel the full distance across it."
He added that these new facilities would lead to benefits for the entire campus, including Stevenson Dining Hall. "Stevenson might have a new kind of feeling of connection to the rest of campus in people's eyes...it might be rejuvenated by the sciences," he said.
Associate Professor of History Leonard Smith raised a question of traffic flow. "I don't really know from architecture, but there's so much traffic on Lorain Street...isn't this going to disrupt it?" he said.
Schaffner mentioned discussions with city officials about attempting to restructure the traffic flow. "We need to be a little more judicious about crossing there," he said.
Schaffner encouraged faculty to see the potential beauty of the new science facilities. "It's been written somewhere that Oberlin College is one of the top 10 most beautiful campuses in the nation. We're hoping to continue the positive architectural trend," he said.
Copyright © 1997, The Oberlin Review.
Volume 126, Number 11, December 5, 1997
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