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.)
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
- Some students wanted to separate social and academic aspects of
the Honor Code, saying that the academic aspects were the only
- "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
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.
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
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.
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
- 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.
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
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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