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Honor Committe produces CD, invites faculty to trials

On My Honor By Virginia E. Carter

The student-run Honor Committee has taken two steps to educate new students and current faculty about the Honor System. It has produced a CD-ROM to teach new students about the system, and it has invited faculty members to attend honor trials.

Copies of the CD were distributed to all first-year and new transfer students in late January. In the future, copies will be mailed to new students soon after they arrive for their first semester at U.Va.

In addition to a 10-minute video introduction on the system’s history and structure, the CD features two interactive segments, one where students can follow two possible outcomes of an honor offense and another where they can take a timed quiz to assess their knowledge. Another segment provides links to Web sites on integrity and honor systems at other universities. The CD concludes with a message from football coach Al Groh.

“The fundamental principles of the Honor System don’t change, but it was time for a new look and a more contemporary approach to educating students about their Honor System,” said Christopher Smith, chairman of the Honor Committee. “By showing an account of what happens before, during and after an honor offense occurs, one of our goals was to take some of the mystery out of the honor process.”

Melissa Stark, a 1995 U.Va. graduate who serves as a sideline reporter for ABC’s “Monday Night Football,” narrates the video portion of the CD. Additional alumni from the 1990s as well as current students, faculty members and administrators appear on camera.

The CD was funded in part by the Parents’ Program and created by the Honor Committee. Assistance was provided by the Educational Technologies Department of the School of Continuing and Professional Studies and an outside contractor, Cinemagic, based in Mechanicsburg, Pa. The CD replaces a 1995 video, copies of which had been given to all new students when they entered U.Va.

The Honor CD-ROM is only one aspect of educating students about the Honor System. A pool of more than 30 honor educators, all students, serve as support officers to the Honor Committee and are responsible for teaching the University community about the system.

In mid-February, the Honor Committee sent members of the teaching faculty an e-mail inviting them to witness honor trials. Trials are generally closed to observers, but with approval by the Honor Committee and the student standing trial, members of the U.Va. community may attend a trial. Reminding faculty of the opportunity to attend trials is intended to make the Honor System more inclusive and less secretive.

“The community of trust that defines the U.Va. Honor System extends to faculty,” Smith said. “We want to develop an even stronger partnership with faculty and allow them to see how the system works on the inside.”

U.Va.’s Honor System, which dates to 1842, is the oldest completely student-run honor system in the United States. Upon entering U.Va., students pledge not to lie, cheat or steal, and, in return, they have the benefit of living in a community of trust. Any student convicted of an honor offense is asked to leave the institution permanently.


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