This year, students will have the opportunity to vote on two amendments that have the potential to change the future of UVA’s Honor System. Option One affirms the single sanction, and Option Two allows for a multiple sanction system. Voting will last from February 19th to the 25th, following weeks of dialogue over these proposed amendments.
In the event that Option One passes, the only changes to the current Honor System would be the formal inclusions of Informed Retraction and Conscientious Retraction in the single sanction clause. Conscientious Retraction is the opportunity for students to admit their actions before they are reported, and not receive any consequences from the Honor Committee. Informed Retraction is an opportunity for a reported student to admit to their offense and take a two-semester leave of absence from the University.
Both the Informed Retraction and Conscientious Retraction were approved by 64% of the student body in the 2013 spring elections. Many in favor of Option One argue that these changes already offer leniency to the single sanction system, and provide a multiple sanction system of sorts. These students also believe that these new amendments have not been in place long enough to justify for the call of another new system.
Third-year student Rick Yoder is a proponent of Option One, and believes it would be a tragedy to lose the single sanction system. “The single sanction has been a central feature of the honor system since its inception. It is the bedrock on which the system stands. It has been with us for 175 years, predating both student ownership of the system and the structure of the committee itself.”
Yoder believes that the single sanction is the ideal of the UVA Honor System, “…because it holds everyone to the same standard, the single sanction is directly responsible for our common sense of ease with each other, our aptly named ‘community of trust.’”
Proponents of Option Two, however, do not see a multiple sanction system as a threat to the culture of the university, nor our prided student self-governance. Voting for Option Two removes the constitutional barrier to a multiple sanction system, but would not automatically put one in place. The Honor Committee would then rewrite the existing Honor by-laws to recommend a multiple sanction system.
The Honor Committee states that there would be, “extensive polling of the student body to determine what type of multiple sanction system students prefer.” These changes would not happen immediately, and the new system would be tailored to student’s desires.
Proponents of both Option One and Option Two recognize the importance of this upcoming decision, and encourage every student to be informed in their decision. Last year, less than 19% of students voted on Honor related issues.