the Honor Committee Web site
inscription says, "Enter By This Gateway And Seek The
Way Of Honor, The Light Of Truth, The Will to Work For Men."
referendum seeks to strengthen the system
Feb. 26 and March 1, University students will have the opportunity
to vote on four different proposals that could significantly change
the Honor System.
referendum stems from the Honor System Review Commission's report,
submitted to the Honor Committee Nov. 19. Since then, the committee
has adopted some of the recommendations into their bylaws, while
submitting four others to the student body for final approval.
recommendations seek to strengthen the system by eliminating the
second trial for seriousness of an accusation; changing the composition
of juries; reducing the number of votes needed to make a conviction;
and having counsel assist, rather than represent, the accused.
educate the U.Va. community about the proposals, the Honor Committee
has distributed pamphlets and conducted several open forums.
can play an integral role in this process, said James Haley, a
fourth-year student who chairs the Faculty Advisory Committee.
"We want to get their perspective because they are members of
the community of trust," he said, noting that faculty initiate
about 70 percent of honor cases, so their opinion is "very important.
made a point of having a faculty member on the review commission,"
Haley said. Law professor Earl Dudley, a former adviser to the
Honor Committee through the U.Va. General Counsel's Office, served
as the faculty representative.
In 1999, the Honor Committee conducted a survey of faculty opinion
regarding the Honor System. With a response rate of 36 percent,
only 24 percent of the faculty felt informed about how the Honor
System works. Perhaps most striking was that 59 percent of the
faculty who had initiated an honor case felt their overall experience
faculty, there's been considerable skepticism and dissatisfaction
with the Honor System," Dudley said. The recommended reforms
seek to strengthen the system as a viable academic disciplinary
system, he said.
support of the Honor System is crucial
Q. What is the role of a faculty member in the Honor
System of the University of Virginia?
Faculty faith and support is crucial to the longevity of
System. As long-term community members, faculty have
a substantial role in shaping students╣ attitudes toward
the Honor System. Faculty members also enjoy many benefits
of living in a community of trust. When you put honor information
on your syllabus or discuss your honor policies in class,
you are showing that the Honor System is alive in the classroom.
When you trust students╣ excuses, leave the room during
a test, or give a take-home exam, you are enjoying some
of the benefits of the Honor System. Faculty members also
participate in the Honor System by initiating honor cases
when they see a violation of the honor code.
From Faculty FAQ on the Honor Committee's Web site
Spanish professor and former Faculty Senate Chair David Gies,
who serves on the Faculty Advisory Committee: "If the result
is a perceived or de facto improvement in the way the Honor System
works, then you will see more faculty support [the system]."
of the proposals calls for all accusations of academic fraud to
be considered serious, thus eliminating the "trial for seriousness."
Haley says that this trial was always "very frustrating for faculty."
believes this change will affirm that "there is no such thing
as non-serious cheating." No longer would students be able to
use the weight of a particular assignment in relation to an overall
grade as a possible defense. Haley thinks faculty members will
be "very supportive of this change."
The next proposed change would adjust the composition of jury
panels, no longer permitting cases to be tried before a panel
composed entirely of randomly selected students. Instead, the
new measure would only allow for either a mixed panel, composed
of randomly selected students and Honor Committee members, or
a panel exclusively composed of committee members.
The Honor Committee's "Guide to the Referenda" says this change
is necessary due to the randomly selected student panels' "inconsistent
verdicts from week to week resulting in questions of fairness
to the [accused] student." By having a hybrid panel of students
and committee members, the guide suggests that student participation
can be preserved while at the same time addressing the consistency
concerns that arose with panels of randomly selected students.
"Faculty also like this proposal to alter the trial structure,"
Another part of the referendum would change the standard to ascertain
guilt from four-fifths to two-thirds of the jury's vote. Though
it would make convictions easier, the Honor Committee guide says
it would "foster consistency among verdicts and mitigate instances
of jury nullification."
Dudley said the review commission was aware that this proposal
might be controversial. "On the one hand, we did not want unwarranted
convictions, but we wanted to put some teeth into the system."
fourth ballot question would modify the language of the Honor
Committee's constitution so that accused students would be "assisted"
by counsel, rather than "represented" by counsel.
would allow students to take part in their own case without the
"preoccupation [among counsel] with procedure and tendency toward
gamesmanship," according to the referendum guide. Dudley said
the change will "demystify the system and make it less litigious."
Honor Committee has already enacted some of the review commission's
recommendations, on issues regarding diversity and Honor Committee