About the Honor Committee

Community of Trust

The University of Virginia’s Honor System—the Committee representatives elected from every school, the trained support officers who staff cases, the administrators and professors who report offenses—exists for a single purpose: to uphold and support the Community Trust. We believe that students, faculty, and administrators are not passive recipients of culture, but rather are active agents in creating and maintaining the ideals of our community. As students at the University of Virginia, we have made the conscious decision to not let personal gain, ambition, or future advancement become the defining characteristics of our four years at this university. Instead, we seek to conduct ourselves with integrity, respecting the work and property of our fellow students and the wisdom of our professors. We aim to cultivate habits that will inform our work habits long after we graduate; to assume the best in each other; and to hold fast to notions of right and wrong, even when doing so comes at personal cost. Through this collective effort, our ultimate end is to live and work in a Community of Trust, where honesty and mutual respect are the baseline for all our interactions and academic endeavors.

Criteria & Scope

By today’s standard, an Honor Offense is defined as a Significant Act of Lying, Cheating or Stealing, which Act is committed with Knowledge. Three criteria determine whether or not an Honor Offense has occurred:

  • Act: Was an act of lying, cheating or stealing committed?
  • Knowledge: Did the student know, or should a reasonable University student have known, that the Act in question was Lying, Cheating, or Stealing?
  • Significance: Would open toleration of this Act violate or erode the community of trust?

Although a student should always conduct himself honorably, a student is only formally bound by the Honor System in Charlottesville and Albemarle County, and elsewhere at any time when he identifies himself as a University of Virginia student in order to gain the reliance and trust of others. The geographic limitation is intended to prevent an overextension of the System, for the Honor System can only act effectively where it is reasonably well-known and understood.

Delegation from the Board of Visitors

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Student Self-Governance

One of the hallmarks of the U.Va. Honor System is that it is entirely student-run. Elected student representatives sit on the Committee, and student Support Officers investigate cases, advise accused students, educate the community about Honor, and serve as advocates at trial.

In addition to acting as Committee members and Support Officers, students serve as jurors at Honor trials. In the Spring of 1980, over 80% of the student body voted by referendum to allow randomly selected students to serve as jurors. The change allowed an accused student who requests trial the choice of a jury panel composed of all Honor Committee members or a mixed panel of Honor Committee members and randomly selected student jurors. In providing this right, students also accepted the responsibility to serve as jurors when requested. In 1990, the student body voted in favor of allowing an accused student to have the option of an all randomly selected student panel.

Trials are held on the weekends and generally last one full day. The Trial Chair provides knowledge of the Honor System and trial experience. The randomly selected jurors ensure that a decision reflects the views of the current student body. By devoting one day as a trial juror to the operation of the Honor System, each student can guarantee that the Honor System remains a vital and responsive aspect of University life.