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 matriculation.


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 Committee.

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 Committees.

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 honor offense.

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.