The Honor System has been a defining characteristic of life
at the University for 160 years. The Honor System, plainly stated, means that
all University of Virginia students have committed themselves to not lying,
cheating, or stealing. This ideal of Honor is not imposed on students; instead,
it is a chosen ideal and a common endeavor. Each student at the University has
signed a pledge to abide by the Honor System on his application for admission.
The students have also committed themselves to governing the system-the Honor
Committee is made up entirely of your fellow students. This commitment means
that the University of Virginia exists as a community of trust.
The Honor System has real and tangible benefits to University
students. At this University, a student is assumed to be honorable unless his
actions proven him otherwise. This presumption of Honor accompanies a student
in all his dealings with fellow students, faculty members, administrators, and
members of the community. The Honor System means that a professor will trust
both your word and your work. The Honor System also means that you can trust
a fellow student because he is a University student. This positive conception
of Honor is the heart of our system.
Essential to maintaining our community of trust is the acceptance
of individual responsibility. The foundation of the Honor System depends entirely
upon the willingness of each student to live up to the standards set by the
community of his fellow students. Unfortunately though, it only takes one student
to breach the community of trust. And for the community of trust to remain strong,
each student must be committed to bringing to the Honor Committee any member
of the community who may demonstrate a disregard for these basic principles
The central purpose of the Honor System is to sustain and protect
a community of trust in which students can enjoy the freedom to develop their
intellectual and personal potential. The concept of the Honor System implies
that students commit themselves to the pursuit of truth. Dishonest means are
incompatible with this pursuit. The System does not exist simply to punish students
who commit honor offenses, nor to place restrictions on students that might
conflict with their personal values; rather, its purpose is to promote an atmosphere
The Single Sanction
If a student commits an honor offense by willfully committing
a serious act of lying, cheating or stealing, that student breaches the trust
of the entire community. Students convicted of an honor offense are permanently
dismissed from the University. With respect to University graduates convicted
of an honor offense, the Honor Committee may make a recommendation of degree
revocation to the General Faculty. These measures help to promote an atmosphere
of trust and freedom from suspicion in our community.
The Honor Committee
The Honor Committee is responsible for the overall administration
of the Honor System. It is composed of two representatives from each of the
eleven schools of the University with the exception of the College of Arts and
Sciences, which has three representatives. The committee elects a Chair, Vice-Chair
for Investigations, Vice-Chair for Trials, Vice-Chair for Services, and a Vice-Chair
for Education from among the representatives. Honor Committee members are elected
each spring by the student body.
Operation Anyone can initiate an Honor case by calling
an Honor Advisor or contacting an Honor Committee member. Once a case is initiated,
the Committee assigns two trained Honor Counsel to investigate the case. After
the investigation is completed, the evidence is presented to a panel of three
Committee members, who decide whether or not there is enough evidence to formally
accuse the student of the alleged offense.
If the student is formally accused, he or she may elect to
either (1) leave the University, without requesting a trial (in which case he
or she will be deemed to have admitted guilt, whether or not such an admission
is expressly made), or (2) request an Honor trial. If a student requests a trial,
she will have the opportunity to present evidence and witnesses in her defense
to a panel of student jurors.
If a student fails to cooperate with the Honor process sufficient
to establish ongoing communication about his case, the Committee may cause a
"registration block" (barring further registration) and/or a "transcript
hold" (resulting in the denial of transcript requests) to be imposed until
such communication has been established (or restored). If a student is the subject
of Honor charges immediately prior to graduation, his degree will not be conferred,
and he will not receive a diploma, pending the resolution of such charges.
Any student found (or deemed) guilty of an Honor offense will
be permanently dismissed from the University and will not be entitled to receive
or hold a degree from the University of Virginia. The notation "enrollment
discontinued" will be placed on the students transcript. In the case
of a student found (or deemed) guilty of an Honor offense following graduation,
the general faculty of the University may undertake proceedings to revoke his
or her degree.
The rules of the Honor System apply to any person who was a
University student at the time an alleged Honor offense was committed. Students
who leave or have left the University for any reason (including transfer, withdrawal,
leave of absence, graduation or other failure to return to the University for
any reason), at any time, whether prior to case initiation and official accusation
or thereafter, are subject to the Honor System, so long as a case is initiated
within two years from the date of the alleged offense.
The current rules and procedures of the Honor Committee, as
embodied in its By-laws (as they may be amended or updated from time to time),
are available directly from the Honor Committee. While the By-laws describe
the organization and procedures of the Honor System, they are not meant to be
exhaustive or to extend to every imaginable circumstance, and they do not constitute
a contract between the University and University students, past or present.
Questions regarding the By-laws or any aspect of Honor Committee practice or
procedure should be addressed directly to the Honor Committee. The Honor Committee
can be contacted by phone at (434) 924-7602, or through their website at www.student.virginia.edu/honor.
In 1990, the student body reaffirmed a 1980 referendum to allow
randomly selected students to serve as jurors in honor trials. It is the right
of the accused to be judged by a panel of peers; therefore, students are called
upon to serve as jurors to help judge the guilt or innocence of an accused student.
To ensure that the trial process remains as equitable and expedient as possible,
students are obligated to respond to the jury notification letters forwarded
by the Honor Committee. Once secured as a juror, students are expected to appear
on the designated trial date. Failure to meet these obligations will be considered
a breach of the University Standards of Conduct. Such cases will be subject
to an appropriate sanction as determined by the Judiciary Committee.
Honor trials will generally last one full day. The Trial Chair,
an Honor Committee member, provides knowledge of the Honor System and trial
experience. 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.
Honor Support Officers
The Honor Committee appoints student support officers each
year who are responsible for various aspects of the Honor System. Honor Advisors,
Counsel, and Educators are charged to advise students involved in honor cases,
conduct investigations, participate in trials, and disseminate the philosophies
and guidelines of the Honor System, respectively. When an honor violation is
suspected, an Honor Advisor should be contacted immediately at 924-7602. The
Honor Committee selects support officers each fall through a series of tests
The Community Relations Committee
The Community Relations Committee, formerly known as the Bad
Check Committee, ensures that students have unique privileges that promote a
community of trust between students and merchants in the Charlottesville community.
One of these privileges is the ability to write checks to local merchants by
simply showing your University of Virginia ID. The Community Relations Committee
maintains this privilege by providing a means for merchants to contact the Committee,
rather than the police, whenever a student bounces a check. In this way, the
Community Relations Committee acts as an intermediary between the student and
the merchant, ensuring continued check-writing privileges for students in the
Students, however, should be aware that bouncing checks can
be costly. Most result in a large service charge from banks, plus an additional
charge from the merchant. The Community Relations Committee, through the Office
of the Dean of Students, has the power to suspend repeat offenders so as not
to jeopardize the trust between merchants and students. Cases where a student
has willfully written bad checks are considered a breach of the trust established
by the Honor System, and will be referred to the Honor Committee for investigation.