The Honor System
| Origin | Responsibilities | The Honor Committee | Juries | Honor Support Officers |
| The Bad Check Committee |
University of Virginia students have entered into an agreement,
embodied in the honor system, that they shall not tolerate lying,
cheating, or stealing from their fellow students. In addition,
all students have agreed to conduct themselves in accordance with
the spirit of the honor system in Charlottesville and Albemarle
County, and whenever they present themselves as University students
to induce reliance. Students are thus presumed to be honorable
unless their actions prove otherwise.
Students who violate this spirit of mutual trust have committed
an offense against the community. Hence, their continued residence
at the University would undermine the basis of this community
which holds that personal fulfillment is best achieved in an atmosphere
where only honest means are used to achieve any ends. Because
permanent dismissal is the only penalty for such an offense, each
student generation must ensure that the system covers only those
offenses which are intolerable to their community. Indeed, the
honor system has undergone many changes since its establishment
in 1842, in an effort to maintain its viability as a norm of conduct
characterizing life at the University.
The honor system is the finest example of student self-government
at the University. It demands a commitment from every student
to the ideal which forms the very basis of the system. A thorough
understanding of the system is an essential part of every student's
The benefits that accrue from the honor system, both tangible
and intangible, are possible only if the system is supported by
the entire student body. Each student has a responsibility under
this system to report any breach of the Honor Code to the Honor
Students who enforce the system are not spying or talebearing;
rather, they are performing the solemn duty of protecting their
individual liberties and those of the student body. An accused
student may either admit his or her guilt and leave the University
or inform the Honor Committee that he or she would like a jury
panel to convene to consider the case. After a full hearing of
the case, the accused student is absolved of all guilt or, by
a four-fifths vote of the jury, is found guilty of a violation
and denied further membership in the University community. Shortly
after matriculation, every entering student is given an orientation
on the philosophy and procedures of the honor system. The first
exposure to the system, however, takes place before enrollment
begins. Letters and information are sent to each prospective student,
so that before accepting admission to the University, the student
understands his or her obligation to the honor system inherent
in that acceptance.
The honor system has thrived as a way of life at this University
since 1842. Its success represents the willingness of every student
generation to live by its principles. The system's continued strength
depends upon the responsibility of the current and future students
of the University.
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 ten 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 Trials, and Vice-Chair
for Advisors from among the representatives. Honor Committee members
are elected each spring by the student body.
In November 1993, the student body reaffirmed a 1980 referendum
to retain randomly selected students to serve as jurors in honor
trials. At some point students may be called upon to serve as
a juror, to help judge the guilt or innocence of an accused student.
It is the right of the accused to be judged by a panel of peers.
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. These cases will be subject
to an appropriate sanction as determined by the Honor and Judiciary
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 conduct honor
investigations, advocate sides in honor trials, and disseminate
the philosophies and guidelines of the honor system, respectively.
When an honor violation is suspected to occur, an Honor Advisor
should be contacted immediately. Phone numbers of the advisors
are listed in the University phone book and on various displays
on Grounds. The Honor Committee selects support officers each
fall and spring through a series of tests and interviews.
The Bad Check Committee
The Bad Check Committee, an agency of the Honor Committee, has
been promoting good student-merchant relations in the area since
1923. Upon receipt of a bad check, merchants contact the Bad Check
Committee rather than the police. Thus the primary function of
the Committee is to assist University students in clearing up
their bounced checks quickly to insure students the privilege
of writing checks in the community. Its second purpose is to protect
this relationship by requesting suspension for the few flagrant
violators who damage the merchant's trust. Finally, the Committee
attempts to expand students' checking privileges in the community
and maintain good relations with area merchants.
Unknowingly writing a bad check which is paid upon notification
does not fall within the scope of the Honor System. However, willfully
writing and passing bad checks is a violation of the spirit of
trust between students and merchants in our community. The Bad
Check Committee may refer to the Honor Committee any case involving
the willful passing of bad checks for investigation as a possible
The Bad Check Committee is composed of elected representatives
from the schools of the University and selected support officers.
The Chair is a previously elected representative or chosen support
officer confirmed by the Honor Committee to that position.