Honor hosts integrity talks
University representatives, students discuss single sanction, ‘community of trust,’ Sullivan’s ouster
The Honor Committee hosted a panel of roundtable speakers in Old Cabell Hall Tuesday to discuss the current state of the University and the honor system. The Committee said events this summer surrounding University President Teresa Sullivan’s ouster undermined the University’s “community of trust.”
The panel was moderated by Dean of Students Allen Groves. The speakers were Sullivan, Faculty Senate Chair George Cohen, English Prof. Michael Levenson, fourth-year College students Hillary Hurd, the student representative to the Board of Visitors, and Honor Committee Chair Stephen Nash.
The panel discussion was jump-started by student-submitted questions, which displayed concerns with the repercussions of a single sanction system and attempted to ascertain how faculty play a role in the community of trust.
Against the backdrop of this summer’s events, the audience was inevitably drawn to the controversy that dominated University news this summer.
“When one person might have violated that trust we all feel responsible,” Cohen said of this summer. “The values of open and honest debate had been compromised and that is one of the important values of any institution, but especially this one.”
Adversity and conflict can often act as a reminder of community values, Sullivan said. Framing the events this summer as a learning experience, she said honor, integrity and trust are now in the forefront of the University community’s mind.
The dialogue also focused on the honor code in the wake of events the Committee in June called “inconsistent with the value of trust.” Participants sought to create a forum of discussion to help students actively understand the honor code and its single sanction policy and to provide opportunities for improvement and progress.
“We are trying to lay a foundation for understanding what students think,” Nash said. “Why do they have those opinions and how do we move from there?”
Although Sullivan and Cohen expressed an interest in exploring alternatives to single sanction including repentance and teaching others from their mistakes, Nash said the community benefits from the finitude of the system.
“Time after time students vote to uphold the system we have,” Nash said. “Our community is stronger when we have absolute commitment to do what is right.”
Despite differences of opinion, the members of the panel stressed the need to keep the dialogue going.
Levenson asked students to come to another discussion at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday titled “June Events and After” and to participate with him on an online forum to sustain the conversation.
“Dealing with certain kinds of ethical issues, there is a danger of ethical silence — a reluctance to talk about and discuss them,” Cohen said.