The Honor Committee deserves praise for new initiatives that make the group more accessible
The Honor Committee used to visit most students at orientation and never again, giving off the impression that the only rationale for students to meet with the group would be to turn in a fellow student or seek their own absolution. But the Committee has taken steps to open its doors and descend from the fourth floor of Newcomb to engage with the community on Grounds. With a redesigned website and new initiatives after all these years the Committee has succeed in achieving accessibility.
The fad of rolling out a new website has hit the University hard: The Committee is one of several organizations, including UVa Today and The Cavalier Daily, to launch a new site this semester. Coupled with the Committee’s updated look, though, is a trove of information. Supplements, schedules and reports once hard to find have been made more available. Students can not only delve into Committee arcana but also contact a representative with ease. “We can’t talk to everybody, but we can certainly do a good job or a better job to find what student sentiment is,” Committee Chair Stephen Nash said. Making it easier to contact the Committee is a primary step in an engagement campaign which he will spearhead.
Nash outlined this engagement campaign that will take place between now and November. The Committee will host a series of events including weekly panels that began last Wednesday, an eventual town hall and an Oct. 11 debate co-sponsored with debating societies. From our experience, the panels — which pool random students but include room for sign-ups — present a cordial forum to discuss Committee issues in a speculative but informative manner. For instance, in the inaugural panel participants discussed ideas such as an academic hotline for stressed students or the insertion of a question about the honor code on admissions essays.
These personable events served to make the Committee appear more friendly and allowed it to accrete relevant data from students. The most comprehensive data, however, will arrive this Sunday when the Committee unveils the results of a survey. Ideally, Nash said, this data will assist the Policy and Procedures Committee as it moves to present new legislation sometime in October. Nash believes that the route to passing potentially applicable Committee reforms has suffered in previous years from a lack of student input. “To me, the biggest problem has been, just year after year, it’s very easy [for Committee members] to come in and say this is the solution,” Nash said.
Given its confidentiality policies and general clandestine manner of operation, even the best of outreach campaigns will struggle to make students feel more comfortable about working with the Committee. Nevertheless, for engaging the community in numerous ways — some tangible, some digital — the Committee deserves student cooperation considering its newfound willingness to listen.