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Freedom and Responsibility

Thomas Jefferson envisioned education as the foundation for developing citizen-leaders. That vision remains true today as students live and learn in a residential community built on six core values: academic rigor, honor and integrity, student self-governance, service, diversity and inclusion, and health and wellness.

By Patricia M. Lampkin
Vice President and Chief Student Affairs Officer

The six values listed above guide our work with students. Together they form the basis of a strong residential community that is focused on academics and balanced with opportunities for leadership, service, self-discovery, and fulfillment of individual talents. Student life both inside and outside the classroom becomes a mutually enriching experience.

Residential Community

Beginning with their first day on the Grounds, students learn about the residential community they are joining and the interconnection of freedom and responsibility, which defines student self-governance.

Self-governance grants students significant freedom to develop their talents and make decisions that matter to University life. With that freedom come high expectations of responsibility. We expect students to hold themselves and their peers to high standards inside and outside the classroom. We also expect them to engage ethically in their local, national, and international communities. Preparing students for global citizenship relies on the high expectations and levels of responsibility that come from student self-governance, a combination that makes the UVA undergraduate experience unique. Within the framework of student self-governance, students have the latitude to be creative, assume ownership, develop leadership, take risks, and learn from their mistakes. At the same time, the University provides support and guidance.

Student Partnerships

At the broad, systemic level, student self-governance means that students oversee the Honor System and the University Judiciary Committee. Students derive authority to run these systems directly from the University’s Board of Visitors. Students elect their own leaders, and those student leaders are responsible for operating these governing bodies on a day-to-day basis, for initiating policy revisions and other changes, and for making all decisions about disciplinary actions.

Student oversight is a hallmark of our judicial system, and it's a weighty responsibility for young people. The test of time, however, has proven that our students are capable of such responsibility. In the process, they learn to master the often difficult challenges that leaders must navigate for the good of the larger community.

Students also assume responsibility for running the numerous student organizations that operate independently of the University but represent the vast range of student interests. Reflecting this autonomous relationship, these groups are known as CIOs, or contracted independent organizations. These groups can apply for funding from the Student Activity Fee, and they enliven the Grounds in numerous ways.

Individual Responsibility

At the individual level, student self-governance means that students are responsible for their own actions. They have great freedom and latitude in making decisions about how to conduct themselves on a dayto- day basis. Most students come here already functioning at a high level, and they thrive on this freedom. Even if they make mistakes, this too becomes a valuable part of the educational process. Students also learn from and are influenced in positive ways by their fellow students, either through informal interactions or through formal peer support programs.

Within the framework of student self-governance, students still receive considerable support and guidance. Members of the University community, especially those of us whose daily responsibilities revolve around students, provide mentoring and support, and we continually work to improve the overall safety and well-being of the community. We rely on students to demonstrate leadership in these areas as well, and to be a good neighbor, both in word and deed, to the surrounding community.

Educated Citizens

Reflective of our founding principles, students learn to become educated citizens by living in a community based on mutual respect, freedom, and responsibility. As generations of students come and go, UVA's strong residential community based on student self-governance and grounded in enduring values define the UVA experience. That experience ultimately prepares our graduates to lead successful lives, measured not only in what they accrue but also in what they give back to society.