Honor releases Informed Retraction statistics
Six students take advantage of the new option to admit their guilt and remain at UVa
The Honor Committee published case summaries Tuesday outlining the instances in which students took advantage of the Honor Committee’s new informed retraction policy since it passed in a referendum in March.
Previously, students were only allowed a Conscientious Retraction, enabling them to remain at the the University by admitting guilt before being accused of an honor violation.
With an Informed Retraction, a student who has committed an honor offense can admit guilt after being reported for an honor offense and take a two-semester leave of absence before returning to the University in good standing.
Since April, 25 students have been reported to the Honor Committee. Of these, six have submitted an Informed Retraction.
Four of the cases have been dropped, two have resulted in the student leaving with an admission of guilt and five have led to formal accusations. The remaining cases are still under investigation.
Committee Chair Evan Behrle, a fourth-year College student, said the new policy has been effective and easily implemented.
“We have a set of forms that are given to each student who is reported to the Honor Committee that explains, in a lot of detail, exactly what the informed retraction is, and why they might take it,” Behrle said. “I think it is working pretty well, and I think the system is much better for it because it just builds into the honor system an opportunity for people to do the right thing even after having made a mistake.”
Law School student Frank Bellamy, who drafted the original petition for Informed Retraction, said that the data released is largely superficial, and — because of most trials being closed to the public — relatively unenlightening.
“I am glad there are people taking [the Informed Retraction],” he said. “I’m glad that there are people that are still going to trial. I still feel like, being an outsider to honor, I don’t have a whole lot of space to judge.”
Despite his initial trepidations about the impact of Informed Retraction, Behrle said the new system is consistent with the original ideal of the Honor Code.
“I think that what is so brilliant about the Informed Retraction is that it recognizes that the honor system is about striving to live up to an ideal even though we know it will always elude us,” Behrle said. “It’s saying that trying to live a life of integrity is so important that even when we fail… the most important thing to do is get back on your feet and attempt to keep living with integrity.”