Debating societies argue single sanction in Honor-hosted event
Dean of Students Allen Groves moderates debate in University Chapel
The Jefferson Literary & Debating Society and the Washington Literary Society & Debating Union squared off Thursday evening in the University Chapel for a debate hosted by the Honor Committee about the honor system’s single-sanction policy. Dean of Students Allen Groves moderated the event.
Single sanction has long been a bedrock of the University’s honor system. Under single sanction, if a student is found guilty of an honor code violation, he is automatically expelled from the University.
Student perceptions of single sanction are decidedly mixed, according to survey results released by the Committee Sept. 30. The survey found that while 60 percent of students support single sanction, 45 percent of those students have reservations about the policy.
Given the divisiveness of single sanction, Honor Chair Stephen Nash, a fourth-year College student, said he thought the topic was particularly suitable for a debate.
“It’s certainly a fundamental part of the honor system,” Nash said. “Conversation and debate always makes [the honor system] better,” he added.
Each debater received six minutes to present his argument, faced two minutes of cross-examination and four minutes to conclude.
The Washington Society argued the policy of single sanction is unethical. Fourth-year College student Krista O’Connell took the position that the policy represents an outdated institution and encourages students to lie.
“The single sanction does not offer second chances or forgiveness,” O’Connell said. “It ignores Jeffersonian humanism.”
Third-year College student Ben Vander echoed this stance, claiming students force themselves to condone honor code violations because they have no other option apart from single sanction. “Six out of 10 students don’t report honor offenses,” he said, citing the Committee survey released last month.
The Jefferson Society representatives, fourth-year College student Owen Gallogly and Law student Philip Williamson, rebuffed the assertion that the single-sanction policy is outdated. “Even though times have changed, ethics have not,” Gallogly said.
To Gallogly the single sanction is an acknowledgment of certain University values, and to uphold single sanction fulfills a moral obligation to the community of trust. Moreover, it is a University tradition.
“It’s the same single sanction from five years ago and it will be the same five years from now,” Williamson said.