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Honor Committee at University of Virginia Produces CD-Rom; Invites Faculty to Attend Trials

February 21, 2003-- The University of Virginia’s student-run Honor Committee has taken two steps to educate new students and current faculty about the University’s Honor System. The committee 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. The content is also available at a new "On My Honor" Web site at http://www.virginia.edu/onmyhonor/.

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 colleges and universities. The CD concludes with a brief message from Al Groh, U.Va. head football coach.

“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, sharing their views about the Honor System.

The CD was funded in part by the U.Va. Parents’ Program and created by the Honor Committee. Assistance was provided by the Educational Technologies Department of U.Va.’s 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 University 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. We are proud of our system, and we are confident that faculty members who witness a trial will find it to be thorough, serious and professional.”

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.

For more information or to request a copy of the CD-ROM, contact Nicole Eramo, special assistant to the Honor Committee, by telephone at (434) 924-7216 or by e-mail at npe5f@virginia.edu. Additional contact: Christopher Smith, chairman of the Honor Committee, (434) 924-7602.

Contact: Virginia E. Carter, (434) 924-1036

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Contact the Office of University Relations at (434) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (434) 924-7550.

SOURCE: U.Va. News Services

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