Honor Referendum Could Uphold or Upend UVa Tradition

    814805_origThe University of Virginia’s Honor Committee is proposing two amendments to its constitution that could potentially change the University’s sanctioning power. While UVa has held a single sanction system for upwards of 175 years, students now have the opportunity to decide whether to keep it or potentially adopt a new system.

    There are two distinct proposals being made. Option One upholds the University’s tradition of a single sanction, while formally including the Informed Retraction and Conscientious Retraction that were first introduced in 2013. On the other hand, Option Two gives the possibility for a multi-sanction system to be put into place. This would grant the Committee full control over the sanctioning system, taking away power from the student body.

    This multi-sanction system, if voted for by the majority, would not be put in place right away; external advisors would need to assess how a multi sanction process would work within the University, and the deciding process could take up to a year.

    Caroline Herre, Vice Chair for Education within the Honor Executive Committee, says that participating in these elections is extremely important. “Last year, 19% of students voted and that is a terribly small percentage of the student body—especially one that values student
    self-governance,” Herre said. “As members of the Honor Committee, we want to make sure our policies are responsive to student body opinion and that can only happen if we hear from more students than just 19%.”

    Voting in this year’s elections has become imperative as the student body’s decision could either uphold or transform a UVa tradition of over 170 years. Many opinions are being presented about the pros and cons of each option, but Herre encourages students to base their vote off of their understanding of the facts, values, and hopes for the future.

    “I truly believe the current system is fair—allowing for forgiveness, growth and a strong community of trust unlike any other school in the country” says Herre as she explains her vote for Option 1. “Like Faith [Lyons, Chair Elect], I think the Informed Retraction is where we should focus our efforts if we’re going to change the system.”


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