Throughout the last couple weeks, University students have been bombarded with fliers, photos, chalk messages, and emails to participate in UVa’s annual school-wide election. Many of the campaigners have worked tirelessly to gain students’ favor and achieve a place in The University’s Honor Committee.
Along with choosing new members of the committee in this year’s election, the Honor Committee has also asked The University community to weigh in on the proposed constitutional amendment. The proposal consists of a call for a change of the requirements for ratifying future constitutional amendments, asking students whether they prefer the current system, which allows the ratification of a constitutional amendment to be made with three-fifths (60%) student votes, or alter the percentage to a 55% vote necessary to ratify an amendment, assuming that at least 10% of eligible voters has voted in favor of the amendment.
The Honor Committee has been student-run for over 170 years since 1842 when Professor Henry St. George Tucker instituted the Honor Pledge. UVa students felt it necessary that they take responsibility for their own actions; thus, the Honor Committee was born: Constitution and all.
Honor Committee representatives have yet to take an official stance on the proposed percentage change. However, an unofficial vote found 18 members of the committee in opposition against the 9 members in favor of the amendment.
Fourth year Committee Chair Matt West says he opposes the amendment.
“Amendments to a system’s most foundational governing document should be ratified by more than a small majority of voters,” West said.
Vice Chair of Investigations Sarah Wyckoff and Vice Chair for Education Ariana Zetlin had very similar opinions as West.
Vice Chair of Hearings Austin Sin speaks on the controversial decision.
“This is a misguided attempt to facilitate a multi-sanction system and little more,” Sin said.
Batten School Representative Joe Marchese-Schmitt summarized, “The shift from 60% to 55% would be significant enough change to manifest in either of these ways.”
On the opposing side, Vice Chair of Community Relations Katherine Graham believes that the change from 60% to 55% “has the potential to mobilize voices and action to partake in and own our Honor system.”
Undergraduates are not the only students with a voice.
Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Representative Stephanie Roe adds to the controversial argument, “The Honor System has been made antiquated due to its inability to effectively evolve with the values of the student body.”
Graduate School of Arts & Sciences Representative Olivia Sabik echoes Roe’s sentiments.
“This reduction seeks to make it easier to make forward progress in the institution,” Sabik said.
College of Arts and Sciences Representative Katie Deal has a reminder for students.
“This proposal is just one of many necessary steps to further ‘democratize’ the Honor System,” said Deal.