Honor Board Case Studies

Hello from the Honor Board!

We recently held hearing panel pool trainings (thanks to everyone who came out and got trained) and got quite a bit of feedback regarding confusions about what sort of situations can be brought to the Honor Board. In efforts to help clear some of this confusion, we’re going to begin including some example cases that were brought to the Honor Board in the past. This time, we’ve included the case that we used during the case walkthrough portion of hearing panel pool training, as well as a case about tampering with fire alarms. Feel free to contact any of the Honor Board members with questions!

Lying to Group Members to Avoid a Meeting

Background and Charges

Kira and Leo were working on a four-person group project for Professor Wagner’s class. In general, the dynamic of the group was not working well: group members often did not have their work done in time for meetings, and frequently missed class work time. Shortly before one particular group meeting, Leo sent an email to the group saying that he would not be able to make it. He explained that he had a conflicting meeting for a group project in another class.

The next day, Kira was talking to a friend, and it came up in conversation that the friend had seen Leo playing video games during the time that the meeting of the previous night was going on. Kira later talked to Leo’s partner for the other class and learned that there had been no conflicting meeting scheduled for the other class. Kira, believing that Leo may have lied about having another meeting, submitted a report to the Honor Board.

In an interview with the Investigative Team, Kira explained that her goal was not to punish Leo, but to allow him to reflect upon his actions and understand their effects on others. She also noted that the team as a whole had not been functioning well, and no one had tried to initiate a discussion on improving team dynamics.

Leo was charged with violating the Respect for Others and Integrity clauses of the Honor Code. During a meeting with the Investigative Team, Leo accepted responsibility for the charges and expressed regret for his actions. The Investigative Team found the case to have merit for sanctions, and thus sent the case to hearing.


As Leo accepted the responsibility, the hearing panel went straight to the sanction-setting phase and decided upon the following sanctions:

– Letter of apology to Kira addressing how his actions affected the his group members

  Professor Wagner was asked to take the case into account in the grade given for the assignment

– Leo was given a disciplinary warning, indicating that future violations could involve harsher sanctions.

Furthermore, the panel recommended to the Dean of Student Life that a meeting be held with the group members and a mediator to discuss group dynamics, and how to improve in the future.

Tampering With a Fire Alarm


During Orientation, a small group of friends wanted to make some ramen noodles. The previous night, many of the group involved in this incident had slept in the lounge because of a fire alarm that had been set off by steam while making tea in another room. In efforts to avoid setting off the room’s smoke alarm, the group decided to see if they could turn off the alarm. They examined the smoke alarm and noticed a small white button on the smoke alarm head. After a brief discussion, Peter was chosen to push the button to see what would happen. When he pushed the button, the alarm in Paige’s room immediately went off. Peter pushed the button again hoping to silence the alarm, to no avail. The R2 on call responded to the alarm and called Public Safety to let them know that there was not a real fire in the room.

Because the alarm was not tripped by particulates (steam, smoke, etc.), Public Safety was able to silence and reset the alarm. The largest inconvenience was for the students in the surrounding rooms, the R2 on call, and Public Safety. The R2 on call and Public Safety were able to intervene before the Fire Department was notified.

On Topic

After interviewing several others, the investigative team learned that students have tried to cover the smoke heads with plastic wrap in the past to prevent them from being triggered by particulates. By releasing this abstract, the Honor Board would like to highlight the dangers of disabling or covering detectors. Everyone involved with this incident agreed that the biggest danger was the failure of fire alarms in the case of a real fire. Fire-related deaths are more likely to happen as a result of smoke than fire, so particulate sensors are critical to Olin’s fire safety strategy.

This case also serves as a reminder to use the kitchens when dealing with potentially steamy or smoky food or drink. The fire alarms in the kitchen are temperature sensitive and do not use particulate sensors. These were specifically changed to provide a place for cooking that wouldn’t trigger the fire alarms in case of steam or smoke. Keeping the kitchen doors closed should also reduce the likelihood that the particulate sensors in the hallway will be triggered.

In EH, several particulate sensors are located near bathroom/shower doors and can be triggered by a steamy shower. Because these sensors are in places where people sleep, they cannot be changed to temperature sensors and students are asked to be extremely careful with taking a steamy shower near these sensors.

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