Weigh In On Honor Reform
Our colleagues over at the Law School have the story of “How a Law Student Changed UVA’s 170-Year-Old Honor System.” Of course, Frank Bellamy didn’t change it himself — he had to convince about 5,400 of his fellow students to agree with him in voting held two weeks ago.
Anyway, it’s a good read on how the second-year law student successfully pushed an alternative to the Honor Committee’s own, even more sweeping proposal to reform a system that has resisted most attempts at altering the heretofore sacrosanct “single sanction”: permanent expulsion for an act of lying, cheatiing or stealing. You can read more details in the Law School story, but the change that the students adopted introduces an “informed retraction” option — essentially, akin to a plea deal that allows a student to take responsibility for a dishonorable act after being accused but before a trial, and serve a two-semester suspension before being allowed to return.
We now know what the students think about the idea, but we’d like to know how the rest of the University community (faculty, staff, alumni, parents, concerned others) feels about the change. Does it strengthen or weaken the honor system? Is there a place in a “community of trust” for confession and forgiveness? Or is trust absolute — once broken, never recoverable?