vote down three of four proposed Honor System reforms
proposals intended to improve the consistency of honor trial verdicts
went down to defeat in a four-day student referendum that concluded
March 1. A fourth ballot item, intended to allow accused students
to take a more active role in their defense, was approved.
to the student-run Honor System require a three-fifths affirmative
vote, with at least 10 percent of the student body participating.
The online election drew a healthy 46.5 percent voter turnout,
but none of the three defeated proposals won even a majority.
were really particularly heartened by the turnout," said
Thomas Hall, the chair of the Honor
Committee, who was overwhelmingly re-elected as a representative
from the College of Arts & Sciences. "It shows that the
Honor System is alive and well, and that students are tuned into
we were disappointed with the way things fell out. We still have
concerns with the consistency of the system." He said the
committee will explore other possible ways to improve that consistency
in the coming months.
lone successful proposal changed the language of the honor constitution
to reflect that accused students would be "assisted"
instead of "represented"
by counsel. It received support from 69.5 percent of voters.
second item, which would have automatically labeled all accusations
of academic fraud as "serious," received only 44 percent
support. That means that honor juries must still determine whether
an act of cheating is serious enough to warrant conviction
and expulsion, the only sanction permitted under the 158-year-old
third ballot question, which would have done away with juries
composed entirely of randomly selected students, received 43 percent
support. If it had succeeded, accused students would have had
the option of being judged by either mixed panels of randomly
selected students and Honor Committee members, or by panels composed
only of committee members.
fourth, two-pronged proposal would have altered the composition
of mixed juries and lowered the standard for determining guilt
from a four-fifths jury vote to two-thirds. That proposal drew
46 percent support.
Rainey, who chairs the Board of Visitors' Student Affairs
and Athletics Committee, said he did not know what response, if
any, the board would have to the three proposals' defeat,
but said members were "strongly supportive of the Honor System."
Honor Committee's proposals would, in my opinion, have strengthened
the Honor System. But the students have spoken and it is a student-run
system," said Rainey, who praised the members of the Honor
should also not lose sight of the fact that the Honor System Review
Commission made a number of positive recommendations [that] did
not require a constitutional vote and those are being implemented
by the Honor Committee and will improve the system," he added.
Werhane, a Darden School faculty member who chairs the Faculty
Senate, said the results caught her by surprise "because
the students worked so hard, and had done a lot of publicity,"
she said. "Maybe it's because the system works pretty
well. It's not broken, although some of my colleagues might
too, was pleased to see the high level of turnout. "[The
referenda] got the notion of honor and the Honor System on everybody's
radar screen, and it's hard to do that year after year. Also,
it reminds the faculty, too.
I think some good will come
out of this."