1980: Whirling

When the school year started in 1980, the faculty got ahold of the Freshman Handbook (The Freshman Handbook appears to be analogous to what we currently call the Lookbook. Interestingly, now we have a publication called a Lookbook that acts like many other college's Freshman Handbook, while the book we call the Handbook has all of the pictures of the new frosh: a function typically associated with a book called the Lookbook.) The faculty were concerned that an official publication of the college had a statement that "had the effect of sanctioning the practice of 'whirling.'" (Muddraker, Vol 2, No. 2, pg. 1) In the petition submitted by eleven faculty members, President Baker was called to prohibit the practice of whirling.

Discussion of whirling ensued in the following faculty meetings. It appears that discussion was split among the faculty. While most agreed that they did not approve of whirling, some professors felt that they should stay out of non-academic affairs. Then the faculty discussed that the real issue was that whirling was hazing and, according to the laws of California, illegal for that reason.

In the following weeks, ASHMC Council was called upon to solve the problem. ASHMC responded by making whirling a violation of the Honor Code. It is unclear as to whether or not this rule was ever enforced; whirling still occurs today. (Although it seems possible to argue that it is no longer hazing, since targets are allowed to opt out if they really want to. This fact was mentioned repeatedly during the 1996 Orientation Student Issues forum; I have personally witnessed the veracity of this.)

1982: Acetylene balloons

In 1982, the major case in the judicial system involved the igniting of some acetylene bombs. The fallout from this case eventually led to a two-year inquiry into the functioning of the judicial system that ended with the creation of the Disciplinary Board.

On January 20, 1982, President Baker held a meeting in his office; minutes of this meeting appear in the ASHMC Archive. His view was that pranks were getting out of hand. Earlier in the year, signs had been burned on the walls, and at this point, acetylene bombs had become increasingly more common. He also spoke of his concern regarding the Honor Code. As he said,

The Honor Code could be wiped out by this misuse of chemicals, because if we don't convince the chemists that this incident will not be repeated, their voice can be a very strong one in the faculty as a whole to do away with the Code itself.

The President then took the opportunity to put the burden of responsibility to stop the incidents on the three students at the meeting. He called on them to come up with a written proposal to improve the situation. The students present agreed that students did not perceive a "traditional act" such as making bombs to be against the Honor Code.

On January 25, a letter (This letter is in the ASHMC Archive.) was sent out by an "Ad Hoc Committee" detailing that the administration was planning to dismiss any students that set off bombs in the future. The next issue of the Muddraker, published on February 4, has two articles about the incidents. The first is a factual article describing the events of the previous semester's Noisy Minutes, and how the Claremont Police Department had to respond to many noise complaints. The other article has much the same tone as the letter sent out to the students, saying that it wouldn't be a good idea to set off any more bombs.

At this point, dorm meetings were called at every dorm to address student perceptions of the Honor Code. Minutes from the East Dorm and South Dorm meeting appear in the ASHMC Archive. The concerns outlined in these letters include that

  • The Honor Code is "too nebulous."
  • The upperclassmen should expose the frosh to the Honor Code, and this wasn't happening effectively.
  • The administration sometimes came out with statements saying that certain actions were Honor Code violations without first consulting the Judiciary Board.
  • While some of the "pranks" being discussed (acetylene bombs) were agreed to be Honor Code violations, not all pranks were Honor Code violations.
  • Some students wanted to separate social and academic aspects of the Honor Code, saying that the academic aspects were the only important considerations.
  • "The downward trend of the Honor Code was noted by all" at the East Dorm meeting.

At the next ASHMC Council meeting, an official committee was formed to address these concerns. This committee was charged to talk to the Faculty Executive Council, how the problems should be remedied, and to address "if there should be a separation between academic and social aspects of the Honor Code." (ASHMC Council Minutes, 7 February 1982) The first meeting of this committee concluded that "everyone has a different opinion of what an Honor Code violation is." (ASHMC Council Minutes, 14 February 1982) The question was also raised as to whether or not separate rules should exist for academic and administrative matters.

Then things got interesting. In a memo to the residents of East Dorm, President Baker informed the students that he had directed the Dean of Students to conduct random room searches in East, looking for materials that could be used to construct acetylene bombs. This caused quite an uproar. The next day, the East Dorm Presidents, wrote a letter to East Dorm informing the students of the relevant clause of the Statement of Student Rights and Responsibilities. They planned to invite the Dean to their next dorm meeting to discuss the room searches.

In the next issue of the Muddraker, an article describing the dorm search was published. The article stated that the students had lost their faith in the administration. A student was quoted as saying, "we don't care whether it was legal or not, the truth is that the administration has lost our trust and they will have to work hard to get it back." (Muddraker, March 4, 1982, Vol 5, No 2, p. 4)

In the same issue of the Muddraker, an article discussing the Honor Code appears. In this article, there is a listing of possible changes to the Honor Code (Muddraker, March 4, 1982, Vol 5, No 2, p. 4):

At this point, several students approached ASHMC Council looking for their support for a letter that was to be written to the ACLU.

In a letter to President Baker dated 2 March 1982, the ASHMC President outlined his feelings on the developing situation. He acknowledges that the students had done wrong by setting off bombs, but states that the administration also committed a wrong by searching East Dorm. "Both sides appear to question the actions of the other never seeming to question its own actions." He then asked how the students can police themselves if they don't get feedback from the administration on what should be rules violations.

President Baker addressed the students on March 9 in a general meeting. Before the meeting, students got together to write up questions that were to be asked at the meeting to speed discussion. Several students wrote questions indicating that they worried that the faculty and administration might not support the students' efforts at enforcing the Honor Code. As a student asked, "How can we be sure that all of the faculty and administration are making a conscious effort to support the code?" In one particularly bitter series of questions, another student asked,

How can you expect the students of HMC to grow in human character while robbing them of their motivation by forcing them to compete in a rigorous academic atmosphere with no social life while heaping further restrictions and invoking feelings of mistrust on an already teetering 'Honor Code?'

The day after the meeting, President Baker sent out a memo to the ASHMC President and JB chair stating that he intended to establish a task force to address the questions that had been raised. This committee, in some form, was around until the changes to the Honor Code were approved in 1984.

Two weeks later, President Baker sent out a memo to the Harvey Mudd College Community clarifying his positions on the issues. He admitted that the room searches were not allowed according to the Statement of Student Rights, but stated that they were allowed according to "published college regulations." This meant that the problem was that there was a discrepancy in the rules rather than blatant disregard for the rights of the students. In this letter he also announced the formation of the aforementioned task force to the rest of the community.

The ACLU responded to the letter sent by the students on March 30. In this letter, they agreed that the students' rights of privacy had been violated, and suggested that the issues should be settled outside the courts. Since this was already occurring, the committee got to work rewriting disciplinary code rules.

In December, the Muddraker published a status report for the task force. According to the article, the task force was to work on "the sections on disciplinary proceedings, standards of student conduct, residence hall regulations, residence hall procedure, housing agreement, and the honor code." (Muddraker, Dec 10, 1982, Vol 6, No 5, p. 1) The article also mentions the proposed split, dividing the judicial system into academic and non-academic parts. This split in the Honor System was controversial, as evidenced in the next statement released by the Task Force. This report, published in February, states that "We do not suggest that the Honor Code be split into academic and non-academic sections, as the previous article indicated."(Muddraker, Feb 11, 1983, Vol 7, No. 1, p. 4)

In the fall semester of 1983, five West Dorm residents were found guilty of setting off a bomb on campus. This caused the discussions of the Honor Code to return. The February 24, 1984 issue of the Muddraker describes these discussions, and mentions that the faculty supported a split between the academic and non-academic parts of the Honor Code regulations.

The Disciplinary Board is first mentioned in the Muddraker in the March 8, 1984 issue, in an article describing the progress of the task force(Muddraker, Mar 8, 1984, Vol 9, No. 3). The article mentions that changes to the Statement of Students' Rights and Responsibilities had to be approved by the Board of Trustees, while changes to the ASHMC Constitution had to be approved by a vote of the students. As discussed above, these changes to the judicial rules were approved in 1984, creating the Disciplinary Board.

1986: Brain Damage bust

In 1986, what is perhaps the most publicized event in the history of the Harvey Mudd judicial system took place. On September 26, a Mudder was arrested for manufacturing methamphetamine. About $100,000 in methamphetamine was seized by the authorities, and the hazardous materials unit of the Los Angeles Police Department removed volatile chemicals from the student's Atwood dorm room. These materials included five gallons of ether, "enough to destroy at least forty percent of the dorm had it exploded." (Muddraker, Oct 10, 1986, Vol 14, No. 2, p. 1)

Because the suitemates of the student (who included the ASHMC President and Athletics Director) arrested claimed that they had no knowledge of the drug manufacturing going on in their suite, an investigation was started by the judiciary board. The investigation resulted in a Disciplinary Board hearing. The results of this Disciplinary Board hearing were released in a letter from the Disciplinary Board chair dated October 24, 1986. The board found the students guilty of the charge of "illegal possession/manufacture of drugs." The students lost their on-campus living privileges, and were placed on off-record probation. The Board then went on to recommend that the students "resign their ASHMC elected offices, and, failing that, the necessary steps be taken by the student body to remove them."

Five days later, on October 29, the ASHMC President submitted a letter of resignation to ASHMC Council. In his letter, he states that he knew that the student had manufactured drugs, but that he had talked with the student and they had reached an agreement that the student would stop his drug-related experimentation. He then defended his actions, saying he was trying to help a friend who had a problem without ruining his life in the process. The Muddraker article (Muddraker, Nov 7, 1986, Vol 14, No. 3, p. 1) describing these incidents mentioned that ASHMC Council discussed the possible resignation of the students involved. The president resigned, while the Athletic Director stayed in office.

1987: Harassment

In 1987, the Muddraker reported a wave of harassment on Harvey Mudd's campus(Muddraker, May 6, 1987, Vol 15, No. 6, p. 1). Three types of harassment were mentioned in the article:

  • Geek of the Week signs glued to students' doors. Most recipients of these didn't get too upset, but they were rather difficult to remove.
  • Low Grade Notices for Life. Many of the recipients of these awards were offended.
  • Anonymous emergency phone calls at 2 in the morning in which students were told that the switchboard was down, so Campus Security was relaying a call from home informing that an emergency was taking place at the students' home.

The commentary in the article seems to say that the Geek of the Week signs weren't considered serious. Quotes from several students show that the other two types of harassment were considered by some students to be Honor Code violations. One recipient stated that "since it was anonymous and so rude, I was offended by it." Another student was quoted as saying, "You've got to be funny when you're doing a prank and they've got to be your friends. Anonymous? Then it's malicious."

This emphasis on anonymous pranks being malicious has been echoed in recent years. Within the last couple of years, it has become the official policy that not only must pranks be reversible, but that contact information for the pranksters must be posted.

1990: Commencement

In Spring semester 1990, a graduating senior was found guilty in a Judicial Board hearing and assigned a punishment prohibiting him from participating in Commencement. Upon appeal, the Appeals Board upheld the ruling. The student did not mention the fact that he had been punished in this way to his parents, who then showed up and learned that their son would not be participating in Commencement. After meeting with Dean of Students Capetto and President Riggs, Dean Cappetto decided to reverse the JB's decision, instead requiring the student to do some work for Campus Services.

This announcement was not taken well by the students, but at this point not much could be done. In a letter in the ASHMC archives dated July 9, 1990, a student called for ASHMC Council members to do something to address this situation. (The letter is not signed, but it seems likely that it was written by the then-current ASHMC president.) It appears that the changes to the judicial codes in 1990 were preceded by these events.

1990: the Lookbook

This case, along with the drug bust of 1986, is one of the "legendary" stories that keeps getting handed down to the frosh every year that they arrive. In 1990, the Freshman Lookbook had an entry defining Scrippsies as, "The Breakfast of Champions." Needless to say, when Scripps students found out about this, they were not amused.

Shortly after complaints were sent, the Lookbook editors sent a letter of apology to Scripps students. This did not end the matter, however. A JB trial then took place, in which the students were found guilty for violating the Honor Code.

This much of the story is general public knowledge; most current students who have heard the story know that the 1990 Lookbook Editors "got into lots of trouble" for what they had done. The editors then appealed the JB decision, and it was reversed. As the Appeals Board stated in the case summary,

While the respondents' actions may be considered insensitive and in bad taste to a person by the combined membership of the Judiciary Board and the Appeals Board, there is no blanket mechanism within the Honor Code to impose a group's "sensibilities" upon individuals under the guise of "Honor."

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