National Collegiate Honors Council


Date of this Version



Published in Journal of the National Collegiate Honors Council Vol. 10, No.1 (Spring/Summer 2009). ISSN 1559-0151 Copyright © 2009 by the National Collegiate Honors Council.


Professionals working in higher education who are concerned with social justice need to consider questions of objectivity and subjectivity. Even though some assessments are objective and some subjective, neither kind of assessment is guaranteed to separate out the effects of socioeconomic benefits from student ability. Honors programs and colleges should therefore concern themselves with the problem of awarding membership based on test criteria because the benefits inherent to honors programs could end up being given more often to those families with extra means and therefore the ability to provide opportunities like private tutoring and test preparation classes. Such actions can reinforce class hierarchy. A critical examination of the subjective/ objective social problem as addressed by Norm Weiner, followed by a discussion of the philosophy and mechanisms for distributing benefits at the University Honors College (UHC) at the University of Pittsburgh, can provide insight into alternative ways of handling the problem, even for membership- based programs.