The 27-member Honor Committee is ultimately responsible for the maintenance and administration of the Honor System. The committee is composed of five elected representatives from the College of Arts & Sciences, two from the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, and two elected representatives from each of the other 10 University schools.
Committee members oversee Honor investigations and hearings, disseminate information to new students, and establish special programs and policies for the Honor System from year to year.
To carry out these tasks, the Committee relies on more than 100 support officers drawn from the student body. Honor educators are trained to promote understanding of and investment in the Honor System among members of the University community. Honor advisors are trained to provide confidential emotional support and impartial information about the process to students under investigation. Honor investigators and counsel are trained to investigate alleged Honor offenses and to assist with the presentation of facts and arguments at hearings.
Under the University’s Honor System, an Honor offense is defined as a significant act of lying, cheating, or stealing, where the student knew (or a reasonable University of Virginia student should have known) that such an act was or could have been considered an Honor offense. Three criteria determine whether an Honor offense has occurred:
- Act: Was an act of lying, cheating, or stealing committed?
- Knowledge: Did the student know, or should a reasonable University of Virginia student have known, that the act in question was or could have been considered lying, cheating, or stealing? (Ignorance of the scope of the Honor System is not considered a defense.)
- Significance: Would open toleration of the act in question be inconsistent with the Community of Trust?
If a panel of peers finds a student guilty of committing an Honor offense, the consequence is permanent dismissal from the University. A student convicted of an Honor offense following graduation will generally have their degree revoked by the General Faculty. Dismissed students may receive assistance from the vice president and chief student affairs officer as they apply to transfer to another institution.
Conscientious Retraction and Informed Retraction
A student who has committed a dishonorable act and wishes to make amends has two options. Before the student has reason to believe the act in question has come under suspicion by anyone, the student may file a “conscientious retraction,” which, if both valid and complete, operates to exonerate the student as to the act in question. After a student has been reported to the Honor Committee, the student may file an “informed retraction,“ which allows the student to take a two-semester leave of absence before recommitting to the Community of Trust.
For details and further information about the Honor System, see the Honor Committee website or call 434.924.7602.