Honor candidate platforms: the College and the Engineering School

We sent a survey to all candidates running for Honor Committee positions asking them for their opinions to a variety of issues, and giving them a chance to elaborate where they felt necessary. Those candidates who responded from the College and the Engineering School are listed below. Click here to read about the Representatives from the Nursing, Architecture, Batten, Commerce, Medical and Continuing and Professional Studies schools.

For a list of Student Council candidate platforms, click here. For a list of University Judiciary Committee candidate platforms, click here.

Engineering School

Thomas Hutson

Running for: Engineering School Representative

Do you support single sanction? Yes
Should Honor be required to publish its budget and spending regularly? Yes
Has the new organization of support offices improved Honor? Yes
Should students be able to have professional representation at honor trials? No
Should students be permitted to choose a random student jury for Honor trials? Yes
Should the Honor Chair be elected by the student body instead of the committee? No
Should the Honor Committee be permitted to poll the student body on issues of interest through the UBE elections system? Yes
Should sexual assault be considered an Honor offense? No

Please note: Hutson was misquoted in the print edition of this article. He does not believe sexual assault should be considered an Honor offense. We sincerely apologize for the misprint.

Eric MacBlane

Running for: Engineering School Representative

Do you support single sanction? Yes
Should Honor be required to publish its budget and spending regularly? Yes
Has the new organization of support offices improved Honor? Yes
Should students be able to have professional representation at honor trials? No
Should students be permitted to choose a random student jury for Honor trials? Yes
Should the Honor Chair be elected by the student body instead of the committee? Yes
Should sexual assault be considered an Honor offense? No

If you would like to expand upon any of your answers above, please do so here.

It is essential to the University that the Honor System, representative of the highest student ideals, is student run entirely. This means protecting the right for students to serve as support officers and limiting professional involvement. It also means that it could be logical to have the student body vote for Chair, although a nomination process may be necessary.

Many have complained about the Honor Committee’s isolation. How would you interact with the student body as an Honor Committee Representative?

Within engineering school, honor interaction is key, as students struggle with finding the fine line of an honor offense in math, CS, and group-work based classes. By promoting round-table discussions, as well as keeping engineering faculty up to date on current issues, information and policies can be fully disclosed to students in an organized manner.

Is the inconsistency of honor trial verdicts a major problem? If so, how would you propose to correct that problem?

Yes it is. Having seen several similar cases go in opposite directions as an honor counsel, it is definitely essential to increase jury training such that jurors have a more even background prior to the trial. Nonetheless, I don’t believe this is necessarily contingent on elected juries, based on the student reservations demonstrated last Spring.

The Honor Committee, in a technical sense, functions as a student-run judicial body for offenses of lying, cheating, and stealing. What role does the Honor Committee have in promoting honor as an ideal around Grounds?

Honor is clearly a lot more than lying, cheating, and stealing. By promoting these simple staples of academic integrity, honor in its entirety becomes a recurring idea throughout student life. The Honor System plays into the idea that if students live their academic life to the highest standard possible, they can then live their social and professional lives to an equivalent standard of excellence.

The College

Martese Johnson

Running for: College Representative

Do you support single sanction? Yes
Should Honor be required to publish its budget and spending regularly? Yes
Has the new organization of support offices improved Honor? Yes
Should students be able to have professional representation at honor trials? No
Should students be permitted to choose a random student jury for Honor trials? Yes
Should the Honor Chair be elected by the student body instead of the committee? No
Should sexual assault be considered an Honor offense? Yes

If you would like to expand upon any of your answers above, please do so here.

While supporting the Single Sanction, I also believe that students should be given more options before being established as ““accused”“ by the Honor Committee, aside from simply an informed or conscientious retraction. As an increasingly diverse and complex University, we deserve an equally complex Honor System with diverse options for students.

Sexual assault definitely “should” be an Honor offense, as it is extremely dishonorable. While this is my personal opinion, based on my morality and sense of ethics, I also understand that legality issues make this an extremely difficult motion to achieve. Although we may not be able to incorporate sexual assault into the Honor system, I believe that we should make an effort as an Honor Committee to promote that it still is not acceptable in our Community of Trust. Honor may primarily encompass lying, cheating, and stealing, but the concept should extend to all aspects of our lives, including topics such as sexual assault.

Having professional representation at Honor trials is unfair and creates a sense of hierarchy within the Honor System and student body as a whole. Students with more financial resources will then have better chances of achieving a ““not guilty”“ verdict than students who may come from less affluent backgrounds. In an effort to become a more egalitarian University and Honor Committee, I believe that allowing students to pay for professional representation will be taking a large step back from the progress that has already been made.

I intend to seek a vice-chair position if, after elections, I believe that I am the best fit candidate for one of the positions. I believe in members of an organization playing to their strengths, and if someone else on the Committee seems better fit for a position than myself then I will support their endeavors fully.

Many have complained about the Honor Committee’s isolation. How would you interact with the student body as an Honor Committee Representative?

The Honor Committee currently does not reflect many minority groups in the University’s student body. As a minority student at the University, I hope to take the first step in building a better connection between minority students and the Honor Committee by maintaining personal relationships with these communities as well as informing them of important subjects regarding Honor. I also hope to serve as the voice of these communities’ ideals and opinions, as any student would naturally become for their designated community. I will pursue these goals through information sessions geared toward minority organizations such as BSA, LSA, and OYFA, personal recruiting to minority students that I know at the University, and consciously aiming to hear the voices of these communities, serving as a liaison between minority communities and the Honor Committee.

Lindsay Sackellares

Running for: College Representative

Do you support single sanction? Yes
Should Honor be required to publish its budget and spending regularly? Yes
Has the new organization of support offices improved Honor? Yes
Should students be able to have professional representation at honor trials? Yes
Should students be permitted to choose a random student jury for Honor trials? Yes
Should the Honor Chair be elected by the student body instead of the committee? No
Should sexual assault be considered an Honor offense? Yes

If you would like to expand upon any of your answers above, please do so here.

In response to the question about whether students are allowed to have professional representation, students are currently allowed to hire a lawyer if they so desire. However, I do not believe that this should be a standard for Honor trials because the Honor trial process is quite different than that of most trials. That is why we train Counsel to represent students in accordance with our procedures.

Many have complained about the Honor Committee’s isolation. How would you interact with the student body as an Honor Committee Representative?

I would institute more open and active forums for engagement, including 1) targeted outreach to diverse groups of organizations, 2) offering regular opportunities to meet and chat with Committee members and support officers in easily accessible locations, 3) publishing Committee initiatives online and/or in widely read sources (such as the Cav Daily), and 4) providing in-person, written, and online opportunities for students to constantly share their feedback on what Honor is and should be doing.

Is the inconsistency of honor trial verdicts a major problem? If so, how would you propose to correct that problem?

The inconsistency of honor trial verdicts is a serious problem that we should address by investigating revisions to the methods by which we select and train random student jurors. Those chosen for our current pool of random student jurors are generally unwilling and so are not always actively engaged in pursuing the truth at trial, which is a critical injustice to the accused students and to the Community of Trust. The Honor Committee should discuss with the student body and debate the relative merits of possibilities such as maintaining a large, randomly-selected pool of jurors, creating an opt-in possibility for willing students to serve as jurors, and engaging in far more extensive training for those selected.

The Honor Committee, in a technical sense, functions as a student-run judicial body for offenses of lying, cheating, and stealing. What role does the Honor Committee have in promoting honor as an ideal around Grounds?

The Honor Committee is absolutely crucial in promoting honor as an ideal around Grounds. The ultimate purpose of the Honor System is to preserve the Community of Trust within our University, and that Community is centered upon an ideal of honor to which we all strive. To truly have a Community of Trust, students must pursue honorable behavior for more than punitive reasons, so the Committee’s role of promoting the ideal of honor is as crucial as its judiciary function.

Meg Gould

Running for: College Representative

Do you support single sanction? Yes
Should Honor be required to publish its budget and spending regularly? Yes
Has the new organization of support offices improved Honor? Yes
Should students be able to have professional representation at honor trials? No
Should students be permitted to choose a random student jury for Honor trials? Yes
Should the Honor Chair be elected by the student body instead of the committee? No
Should sexual assault be considered an Honor offense? No

If you would like to expand upon any of your answers above, please do so here.

Although I believe that addressing the sobering reality of sexual assault on Grounds should be a serious priority of the student body and of the University, even if the entire student body desired to include sexual assault as a single-sanction Honor offense, it would be impossible due to differing standards of burdens of proof. Because an Honor violation requires 99 % burden of proof in trial, requiring that same amount of burden of proof for sexual assault would be a violation of Title IX (Title IX burden of proof is 51%).

In accordance with Honor’s general purpose, the Committee should always seek to have open communication with the community it represents. The budget is part of this accountability. However, when looking at the Honor budget, one must realize that an honor system at a school the size of UVA faces immense pressures, and costs: those of general operations, education, outreach, training, trial cost and other expenses. Spending any money beyond the state budget allocation would come from the endowment.

Honor currently faces a challenge from Virginia State Legislature House Bill 1123, which would allow legal counsel to represent students in University disciplinary proceedings. I wish to argue against this bill since it challenges the University’s integral foundation of student self governance, and calls into question the competences of the extensively trained support officers.

Given last year’s vote against having the sole option of an all committee jury, within the system students should be permitted to choose any of the current three options. However, inconsistent verdicts in trial still plague the fairness of the system. I would like to revive a conversation about which type of jury panel students feel is most effective, a dialogue through which our community could generate practical and valuable proposals to address the issue.

I believe the dual system of:
1) the student body electing the 27 students who will serve as their new Honor Committee representatives and
2) those new Committee members electing the Chair while entrenched in systemic nuances, Committee responsibilities, and the general purpose of Honor at an obligatory weekend training retreat serves as both a representative and informed manner for election.

Many have complained about the Honor Committee’s isolation. How would you interact with the student body as an Honor Committee Representative?

I believe that the Honor system, and Honor Committee, is one of the finest examples of student self-governance at the University: it allows students to represent and distinctively uphold the ideals that the community holds so vital to its functioning. But right now it is not fully representing these students as it could.

More community-Honor interface is essential to minimizing this disconnect and lack of representation. Building on this year’s Committee’s momentum I want to initiate more frequent, candid and constructive conversations between the UVA community and the Honor Committee. I specifically hope to continue Committee working groups, publicize more round table discussions and Honor education events, and expand the relationships with student groups that feel alienated from the system.

Is the inconsistency of honor trial verdicts a major problem? If so, how would you propose to correct that problem?

I believe that the inconsistency of honor trial verdicts presents a major, and unsettling, problem not only to the individual students facing this fundamental unfairness, but to the long-term durability of the Honor system. If students cannot trust that the Honor system guarantees them a just representation and adjudication, and if faculty and students alike are increasingly disenchanted with the system after participating within it, we risk losing the benefits of our community of trust.
To correct this problem, I would first expand and strengthen the training period that jurors undergo before trial. Second, I would refine the post-trial evaluations for jurors in order to gain the most critical perspective. Third, I would like to revive a conversation about which type of jury panel students feel is most effective. Whether this dialogue resulted in a proposal for next year’s ballot or further internal modifications, engaging the student body in the decision-making process could generate practical and valuable proposals to address the issue.

The Honor Committee, in a technical sense, functions as a student-run judicial body for offenses of lying, cheating, and stealing. What role does the Honor Committee have in promoting honor as an ideal around Grounds?

What is incredibly unique about our Honor System is that, despite serious challenges it and our community has faced, it has endured and adapted to meet the needs of the student body. And while the Honor Committee itself exists to uphold systemic procedures, more than that it is here to serve as a steward of honor as an ideal and ensure the resilience of our community of trust. This means that its role is quite dynamic, as is the student body. As much as the Honor Committee must safeguard this ideal on a practical level, to make Honor relevant and valuable to our community it must actively initiate conversation about honor as a shared purpose of the students to identify and address the issues the system faces.

Nicholas Hine

Running for: College Representative

Do you support single sanction? Yes
Should Honor be required to publish its budget and spending regularly? Yes
Has the new organization of support offices improved Honor? Yes
Should students be able to have professional representation at honor trials? No
Should students be permitted to choose a random student jury for Honor trials? Yes
Should the Honor Chair be elected by the student body instead of the committee? No
Should sexual assault be considered an Honor offense? No

If you would like to expand upon any of your answers above, please do so here.

I support the single sanction for a number of reasons, the first being that the single sanction promotes universal disapprobation of honor offenses. Recent statistics suggest that U.Va students lie, cheat, and steal at a much lower rate than students nationwide, suggesting that there is at least some merit behind the single sanction in so far as it discourages honor offenses. More importantly, the single sanction serves as a symbol for our commitment to the ideals of honor and provides the University with an indelible character that manifests itself in the benefits of the Community of Trust. Moreover, the Honor Committee is charged with representing the student body, and student opinion has always been on the side of the single sanction. As of 2011, 60% fully supported the single sanction, or supported it with reservations. This means there would have to be a 40-point swing in student opinion to remove the single sanction––an unlikely scenario––especially given the recent introduction of the informed retraction.

To preface my response, I am a member of 1 in 4––the all-male peer advocacy anti-sexual assault group––so I am very cognizant that sexual assault harms the community more than any act of lying, cheating, or stealing ever could. The Honor Committee should condemn sexual assault, as it offends the ideals of honor and everything the Community of Trust represents. However, I worry that making sexual assault an Honor Offense would undermine the University’s process of adjudicating sexual assault cases. Randomly selected student juries or Honor Committee members simply do not have the training to match the faculty and professional staff of the Sexual Misconduct Board. Furthermore, the standards of proof needed to convict a student of an honor offense (”“beyond a reasonable doubt”“) is actually higher than is needed to convict a student for sexual assault (”“clear and convincing”“), which would make the already frustrating process of punishing perpetrators even harder. Honor should play a role in opposing sexual assault at U.Va (the recent co-sponsorship of the DFA bystander intervention handprint project is a good example), but putting sexual assault under the jurisdiction of the Honor Committee would likely be counterproductive.

I helped implement the new organization of Support Officers in my role as a Senior Advisor. ““The merge,”“ as we call it, has given us the most competent and engaged class of support officers Honor has probably ever had. Training support officers in all three support officer roles provided a holistic education that will help the new support officers in whichever role they choose. Training support officers together, rather than in three separate groups, has also helped improve the internal culture of honor by allowing for more interpersonal interaction within the support officer pool than the previous three-pool system did.

I firmly believe in the student self governance of the Honor Committee, and as such do not support students having professional representation at honor trials. The honor system is run by students, for students, and students should determine what constitutes a breach of honor in our community. Accused students are allowed to consult legal counsel during the length of an honor case, but are represented by student counsel at trial. This is done to create a non-adversarial system where the focus is solely on the pursuit of the truth. I also fear that allowing students to have professional representation at honor trials would create an inequitable system based on students’ ability to afford legal counsel.

I supported the Restore the Ideal act when it was put to a vote last year, and I remain convinced that the Committee has an obligation to address the problem of inconsistent verdicts through jury reform. However, the student body has made it clear that all-Committee juries is not a palatable solution, and I respect the decision to retain the right of random student juries. Restore the Ideal also made it clear that the Committee cannot reach a solution unilaterally––any further solutions must come from the student body, and I hope to use focus groups and round table discussions to put the conversation in the hands of the students regardless of whether a reform proposal resurfaces.

While a direct election of the Honor Committee Chair would be ideal in theory, the nature of college elections and the position makes an internal selection preferable. The Chair position requires skill, experience, and vision, and should be selected based on these qualifications––not on who is willing to spend the most time/money campaigning (which, unfortunately, is what many school-wide races come down to). The Committee is in a unique position to discuss and judge these qualifications because the selection process involves speeches, extensive questioning, and (often) hours of deliberation. A direct election would also put representatives from smaller schools (Batten, Law etc.) at a disadvantage in the Chair race if it were decided by a direct election. On the Committee retreat, everyone has a chance to present their qualifications on equal ground.

Many have complained about the Honor Committee’s isolation. How would you interact with the student body as an Honor Committee Representative?

I believe the Honor Committee belongs to the student body, not just to the 27 representatives who meet once a week in Newcomb Hall. As an Honor Committee Representative, I would try to increase student interaction and engagement in a number of ways. Hosting an Honor Town Hall meeting (or ““Honor Congress”“ as we’ve tentatively dubbed it) will help us gauge student opinion and stoke productive dialogue about current challenges facing the Honor system. I would like to widely publicize these challenges (such as disproportionate reporting, lack of faculty buy-in, etc.) before the event in order to have foster a frank discussion. I also want to bring back Honor roundtable discussions, continue hosting focus groups, and do more to publicize Honor Committee meetings.

Part of the concerns about the Honor Committee’s isolation also derive from the relatively homogenous demographics of its members. As an Honor Committee rep, I would engage in targeted outreach to these underrepresented student groups. At the beginning of this semester, I went to the Black Student Alliance emerging leaders conference, where we gave a presentation and led a Q&A. We were able to dispel many of the misconceptions surrounding the Honor Committee, and received very positive feedback. I’d like to repeat this practice with other groups to help increase our interactions with the entire student body. Emphasizing these outreach methods before Support Officer recruitment is especially important. Last semester the Committee made a point to reach out to different student groups, and our new class of support officers is closer to representative of the student body than any in recent memory. However, there is still work to be done, and I would make that work a priority if elected.

Is the inconsistency of honor trial verdicts a major problem? If so, how would you propose to correct that problem?

I doubt many would argue that inconsistent honor trial verdicts are not a problem––it offends fundamental notions of fairness that two students accused of similar, or even identical acts, could receive two different verdicts in two separate trials. Last year, the Committee recognized this problem and felt obligated to put forward the Restore the Ideal act, which would have addressed the problem with jury reform. This act was unpopular, which means must investigate alternative solutions. Honor addressed the issue in part through increased jury training. But to really understand the root of the problem, it will take a more deliberate investigation. I am currently working through a report of 253 juror post-trial questionnaires from the last 25 honor trials in order to draw more conclusive conclusions about how to further improve juror training and mitigate the inconsistent verdict problem.

One popular possible solution is to switch to exclusively mixed student-Committee panels. While I think this is a promising proposal, I am not prepared to support a structural change to the Honor system unless the student body is in favor of it. This underscores the importance of student engagement in the next Committee’s term––structural changes should come from the ground up, not the top down.

The Honor Committee, in a technical sense, functions as a student-run judicial body for offenses of lying, cheating, and stealing. What role does the Honor Committee have in promoting honor as an ideal around Grounds?

In a perfect world, the Honor Committee would receive zero reports every year and its sole function would be to sustain the ideals of honor around grounds. That is obviously not the case, but the Committee’s most basic function remains its most important. At my first year convocation, Professor Michael Suarez summed up the importance of honor as an ideal better than I ever could. He said, ““If your honor costs you nothing, if it does not require of you that you repeatedly take risks, that you evince courage, that you dare even to demonstrate love…then it means precisely nothing.” A sense of honor that only requires you not to lie, nor cheat, nor steal holds little meaning. Honor is not about what we do––it is about who we are.

To promote this understanding of honor, we must publicize existing ways that honor is tangibly represented in our daily lives. For example, the Committee recently launched an umbrella-share program that many students have yet to utilize. And many students are unaware of their ability to incur honor debts with vendors on the corner, or to take out interest-free Honor Loans of up to $600 through the Office of the Dean of Students.

As for new ways to promote this ideal, I firmly believe that a commitment to un-proctored exams is crucial if we are to promote the ideal of honor. Trusting students to hold each other accountable during tests is among the most fundamental representations of a working honor system. If elected, I would use my experience on the Faculty Advisory Committee to sustain a conversation about proctoring with faculty and the Provost in order to make this a reality.

Henley Hopkinson

Running for: College Representative

Do you support single sanction? Yes
Should Honor be required to publish its budget and spending regularly? Yes
Has the new organization of support offices improved Honor? Yes
Should students be able to have professional representation at honor trials? No
Should students be permitted to choose a random student jury for Honor trials? Yes
Should the Honor Chair be elected by the student body instead of the committee? No
Should sexual assault be considered an Honor offense? Yes

If you would like to expand upon any of your answers above, please do so here.

I support the Single Sanction because attending the University of Virginia is not a right, but a privilege. I believe that that privilege is dependent upon upholding the contract of Honor entered into by every student at UVA which they signed on their application to the University. However, these are my beliefs, and the Honor System does not belong just to me, or even the Honor Committee. It is the students’ system, which is why I support open and actionable proposals for legislative changes from across UVA. Please see my Facebook event for more details on my views.

Stealing, one of the three Honor Offenses, is defined in the By-Laws of the Honor Committee as the “taking, keeping, or appropriation of the property of another without the owner’s permission or approval.” To me, Sexual Assault is the taking without permission of a person’s most inherently personal property: his or her body. In that sense, I believe Sexual Assault is Stealing. However, the Honor Committee derives its authority solely from the Commonwealth of Virginia through the University’s Board of Visitors. I am neither a lawyer nor a judge and I cannot guarantee that the state’s legal system would share my view, although I would certainly fight for them to do so. Moreover, Sexual Assault is just one offense under the entire umbrella of “Sexual Misconduct,” not all of which may fall under the jurisdiction of the three Honor Offenses, creating an asymmetrical system. The University employs an entire Sexual Misconduct Board of trained professionals to adjudicate these offenses, and I highly recommend victims to make use of their expertise. Regardless, if a victim of Sexual Assault were to report the act to Honor as an offense of Stealing, I, as a Committee member, would argue that unless explicitly forbidden by the Board of Visitors and the Committee’s legal counsel, the report must be permitted to proceed through investigation and potential trial.

I do not believe that external legal counsel should be permitted to represent a student at an Honor trial, or throughout the Investigation process. The issue referred to here is a proposition set forth in the Virginia House of Delegates Bill No. 1123, which states that students must be afforded the right to hire external legal counsel in all disciplinary decisions, excluding “academic dishonesty.” This would fundamentally change the Honor System by allowing for separate procedures in cases of non-academic Lying and Stealing. This law would provide a completely unfair advantage to wealthier students who can afford legal representation, as well as contradict the authority of the Honor Committee as a strictly student-run organization, as is delegated by the Board of Visitors. “

Many have complained about the Honor Committee’s isolation. How would you interact with the student body as an Honor Committee Representative?

Although students reported in a 2012 survey that they felt at the very least somewhat positive about the Honor System (over 73%!), the offense reporting rate is nonetheless only 4%. Clearly, students take issue with the nuts and bolts of the System, even though they seem to like the idea of it. I think the only way to solve this problem is to take it out of the offices of the Honor Committee remind the student body that they have complete control over this system. The plan for this is already in place, and it’s something we in Honor have taken to calling the “Honor Congress.” The idea is to bring people from across UVA together into small groups to produce actionable proposals for both legislative and internal changes to the System, resulting in a special UBE election. Last year, we saw a Committee sponsored campaign which had the unintentional result of too many students feeling that it sent the message that the Honor Committee knows what is right and ought to be obeyed. The reality, however, is that any student is permitted to submit a referendum for change to the entire system. I want to facilitate that, not suppress it. Discussion of positive change in the Honor System should not be adversarial, since the entire student body has the power to come together to act. I want to see this become a yearly tradition at UVA, a beacon we can point to that shows that the Honor System is a breathing philosophy, not a stuffy tradition. In addition to this event, I would institute small, informal focus groups and conversations led by moderators about the status of Honor and its current perception on Grounds. For me, actual student ownership of and participation in the system is far more important than any particular policy, which is what I think ought to be the understanding of anyone running for the office of “Representative.”

Is the inconsistency of honor trial verdicts a major problem? If so, how would you propose to correct that problem?

The inconsistency of verdicts at Honor Trials is a matter of great concern. If two different students go to trial for offenses committed under seemingly the same circumstances, and one student is found guilty while the other is not, a fundamental injustice has occurred. The first steps to reduce the occurrence of this problem have already been taken: we have greatly expanded Juror training in terms of both the time commitment and the depth of understanding required of the system. The 2012-2013 Committee attempted to rectify this issue by supporting legislation that would have made all Jury Panels comprised of Committee members only, to ensure consistency of verdicts. Many students, however, felt this was an unfair incursion on the rights of the accused student. The discussion that arose led to an active, but in my mind, unnecessarily adversarial atmosphere. As a Committee Member, I would not be willing to ever run a “Vote Yes” campaign because I do not think it is the place of the Committee to rule out all potential solutions except for one. This is why I support the above mentioned “Honor Congress,” which would allow all of UVA’s minds to come together and put forth multiple proposals on how to best solve this issue. I would encourage and support the placement on a special election ballot of all proposals to come from this event.

The Honor Committee, in a technical sense, functions as a student-run judicial body for offenses of lying, cheating, and stealing. What role does the Honor Committee have in promoting honor as an ideal around Grounds?

The investigation and adjudication of Honor Offenses is just one of the Honor Committee’s responsibilities. The Honor Committee is a rare organization in that it is charged with the maintaining and furthering of an entire lifestyle and moral code. I believe that honorable behavior extends far beyond simply abstaining from Lying, Cheating, and Stealing. For instance, the racially bigoted graffiti that recently appeared on Beta Bridge is deplorably dishonorable behavior. While such actions do not pertain to the case processing of specific Honor Offenses, they are still inconsistent with the Community of Trust. As a representative, I would ensure that the Honor Committee issue statements staunchly condemning such hate crimes. I would also continue the practice the current Committee has furthered of partnering with other organizations to promote honorable behavior around Grounds, such as the recent collaboration with the Hand Print project to help end sexual assault. I would also offer official commendations for organizations taking outstanding steps towards encouraging honorable behavior, such as One in Four. Honor is not strictly a punitive system, it exists to encourage us to live honorably in all parts of our lives.

Nicholas Lee

Running for: College Representative

Do you support single sanction? Yes
Should Honor be required to publish its budget and spending regularly? Yes
Has the new organization of support offices improved Honor? Yes
Should students be able to have professional representation at honor trials? No
Should students be permitted to choose a random student jury for Honor trials? Yes
Should the Honor Chair be elected by the student body instead of the committee? No
Should sexual assault be considered an Honor offense? Yes

If you would like to expand upon any of your answers above, please do so here.

Time and time again the single sanction has been upheld by the student body, and it is a hallmark of our Honor System. This does not exempt the single sanction from scrutiny, and I believe that those who oppose it have legitimate concerns that are sometimes subsidized. I believe it will be important in the upcoming years to have a University-wide discussion about the single sanction and its philosophical purpose at the University. If we remain on our current trajectory, the Honor System will become even more difficult to maintain as U.Va. continues to grow.

I believe that the problem with an election from the student body stems from two major concerns that could be resolved, but are currently not. First, having a thorough vetting process to ensure that every student had the necessary information to make an informed decision would be an arduous and nearly impossible process to undertake. Second, and perhaps more importantly, is that sometimes even elected Committee members have a difficult time with the fundamentals of Honor, which makes it challenging to select a person who will lead and manage the entire System. If Committee members who have gone through rigorous training and have listened to a speech and Q&A by prospective Chairs still have difficulty, then I believe that the size of our school would make it difficult for random students to be able to effectively choose an Honor Chair.

Many have complained about the Honor Committee’s isolation. How would you interact with the student body as an Honor Committee Representative?

I believe that this problem, especially for a College Representative, is extremely multifaceted and results from the size of the College, the limited time of a Committee member, a lack of connections to key student groups, and an absence of a formal mechanism for dealing with feedback. I would interact with the student body through several means. First, I would host open hours on the Lawn, which would allow any student to walk in and have a frank, casual conversation about the Honor System with his or her Representative. This is a step in the right direction since it is significantly less formal than our current policies for contacting a Committee member—by email and attending Committee meetings. My second method would be to attend CIO meetings to get a sense of what different student groups are like and what their opinions are. I have qualms with how often Honor makes students come to them when they want feedback; I think it’s necessary for a Representative to go out into the Community to engage with his or her constituents. There is no better way to do that than at a CIO meeting where you can gain a sense of what other students are engaged and passionate in a familiar situation where they can be comfortable and willing to speak freely. Third, I think that open dialogue between the Honor Committee and the student body is essential for a healthy relationship. What’s also important is that the voice of the student body at these small discussions is a diverse one that approaches the discussion from distinct perspectives. Through these discussions, Honor Representatives will be able to easily engage with their constituents in an organic way that allows them to have a meaningful discussion and could result in a change in the Honor System. Lastly, I think that an exceptional way to interact and engage with the student body as a Representative would be to design a ““Kickstarter”“ campaign where the Committee allots a specific amount of Honor funding for the student body to decide how to utilize. This allows for true representation in that a representative isn’t needed once he or she sets up the Kickstarter campaign! It helps engage the students both in the selection process, since they are working with the Honor System to select a course of action, and again when the events are held since there is obviously interest in the event if it received funding from the student body.

For more information please see: http://leeforhonor.weebly.com/student-body.html

Is the inconsistency of honor trial verdicts a major problem? If so, how would you propose to correct that problem?

The inconsistency of honor trial verdicts is a major problem and is one of the fundamental reasons why faculty tend to stop using the Honor System. Because of this, it is crucial that we immediately act to remedy the situation. I believe that the first step toward the correction of the problem is to better train our juries, which I already have begun by leading a team of Support Officers last summer to design a comprehensive training protocol that is now completed and being implemented. Currently, we use approximately one hour for training, but we have material for a longer training period. First, we should increase the time of jury training to increase their preparation and, if that fails, then we should look toward an opt-in system of jurors. I believe that the students have made it abundantly clear that they wish to keep random students juries, so, in my opinion, any change to the composition of juries is out of the question.

The Honor Committee, in a technical sense, functions as a student-run judicial body for offenses of lying, cheating, and stealing. What role does the Honor Committee have in promoting honor as an ideal around Grounds?

Promoting honor as an ideal around Grounds should be the Honor System’s primary goal, which I believe often gets lost in the technical details of the adjudicatory process. The Honor System should never be seen as a bar minimum of conduct: don’t lie, cheat or steal. Rather, it should be seen as an aspiration to a level of virtue that we cannot achieve but must continue trying to achieve all the same. A step in the correct direction for this ideal would be to fold sexual assault and hate crimes under the Honor System, whether that be philosophically or legally, to firmly place the Honor System in a position to promote a true Community of Trust.

Calvin McPhail-Snyder

Running for: College Representative

Do you support single sanction? Yes
Should Honor be required to publish its budget and spending regularly? Yes
Has the new organization of support offices improved Honor? Yes
Should students be able to have professional representation at honor trials? Yes
Should students be permitted to choose a random student jury for Honor trials? Yes
Should the Honor Chair be elected by the student body instead of the committee? Yes
Should sexual assault be considered an Honor offense? No

If you would like to expand upon any of your answers above, please do so here.

I am not against single sanction, but I would not say I am for it, either. I think it is critical that the student community seriously consider the benefits and costs of single sanction, as opposed to reflexively defending the system for its own sake. The passage of Informed Retraction indicates to me that students are willing to consider modifications to single sanction, and I feel the Honor Committee must be equally willing.

While I agree that sexual assault is not an honorable act in any sense, I don’t think that having the Honor Committee handle sexual assault cases would lead to the best outcomes. Sexual assault cases frequently feature evidence that is difficult to evaluate, and I think that the current system, in which a separate Sexual Misconduct Board handles such cases, is preferable.

Many have complained about the Honor Committee’s isolation. How would you interact with the student body as an Honor Committee Representative?

One source of this isolation is, in my view, a lack of acknowledgement of student views on Honor by Committee members. Members, particularly those with significant trial experience, seem to ignore the perspectives of those without that experience. Certainly a direct involvement with the system is important for many of the functions of the Honor Committee, but it should not mean a disregard for the views of the majority of students about a student-run system.

Beyond simply taking the views of other students seriously, Committee members have to actually hear those views. I won’t claim I have a magical solution for engaging students, or for making their opinions heard, but one possible solution would be establishing Committee “office hours”. It is one thing to email a stranger; it is another to go talk to the person at the table in Clemons.

Is the inconsistency of honor trial verdicts a major problem? If so, how would you propose to correct that problem?
In the past, the Honor Committee has pinned trial inconsistency on juror inexperience or incompetence, especially during the campaign for jury reform. While I am certainly in favor of better juror training, I am not sure that that it will entirely fix the problem.

A major source of inconsistency is either juror disagreement over what constitutes an Honor Offense, or juror resistance to expulsion as a punishment. It is too often ignored that single sanction magnifies these problems; the system is incapable of graduated punishments, and so jurors resort to refusals to convict at all because they do not wish to expel a student. A move away from single sanction could help fix this aspect of the problem.

The Honor Committee, in a technical sense, functions as a student-run judicial body for offenses of lying, cheating, and stealing. What role does the Honor Committee have in promoting honor as an ideal around Grounds?
Ultimately, the goal of the Honor Committee is just that: to promote honor as an idea on Grounds, and specifically to encourage (and define) honorable behavior in students. Because establishing accountability for violations of the honor code is essential to that mission, honor trials are an important aspect of the Honor Committee’s role, but I do not think that the Committee’s obligations stop there.

Timothy Swartz

Running for: College Representative

Do you support single sanction? Yes
Should Honor be required to publish its budget and spending regularly? Yes
Has the new organization of support offices improved Honor? Yes
Should students be able to have professional representation at honor trials? No
Should students be permitted to choose a random student jury for Honor trials? Yes
Should the Honor Chair be elected by the student body instead of the committee? No
Should sexual assault be considered an Honor offense? Yes

If you would like to expand upon any of your answers above, please do so here.

Ideally, sexual assault would be an honor offense, and one certainly administered as a single sanction — that’s the reason for my “yes” answer. In practice, though, there are a few reasons why implementation of this policy could be untenable: first, given the ultra-sensitive nature of the facts of sexual assault cases, having students handle the investigation and adjudication of sexual assault cases is impossible. All-student handling of these cases could prove to be just one more reason why reporting of sexual assault cases may remain at a low level. Second, Honor’s evidentiary standards of “more likely than not” and “beyond a reasonable doubt” for Honor accusation and conviction, respectively, are too high given the lack of physical or eyewitness evidence in most cases. I do firmly believe that sexual assault should be a single-sanction offense, and that the University administration needs to act now and set a precedent for other universities to follow.

On new support officers: For me, it’s too early to judge the effectiveness of the new merged support officer pool, especially since I’m not physically in Charlottesville and haven’t been able to attend pool meetings since December, but I supported the idea when it was proposed to the support officer pool and believe that it will do good for the Committee and the University.

I feel that the Honor Committee is more likely to internally choose the candidate who will be best for the job, whereas school-wide elections by their nature often end up as contests of popularity over merit. The Chair is already elected once by a vote of his peers to the Committee itself; once he is on the Committee, though, I believe that it is up to his peers on the Committee to decide who is the best person to be the outspoken face of Honor based on his qualifications alone rather than it being any sort of popularity contest, as many student-body-wide elections often prove to be.

On seeking exec positions: I would seek executive office if I could, but being unable to attend the Honor Retreat in March due to my study abroad, this is impossible.

Many have complained about the Honor Committee’s isolation. How would you interact with the student body as an Honor Committee Representative?

I agree that many see the Committee as the gods of Mount Olympus, condescending to the groundlings from the fourth floor of Newcomb. I want to make community outreach and community input a very personal initiative for me, and hopefully for every Committee representative. I will be proactive in approaching groups and their leaders and anyone who will give me a few minutes to sit down, be it a student or faculty member. I also plan to have an open-door policy with the 10,000 students from the College I’d be representing, to help put in place a much-needed feedback system that Honor currently lacks.

Is the inconsistency of honor trial verdicts a major problem? If so, how would you propose to correct that problem?

This is a problem. I do not think that every student who chooses a random-student jury panel receives a fair trial. What needs to happen is that random-student jury panels must be better educated. Everyone participating in the Honor System, faculty and students both, should have confidence that the facts of a case will be the determining factor in a jury verdict; lack of understanding of the Honor Code on the part of the jury is inexcusable. Every accused student has the right to a fair trial, no matter the composition of his or her jury. Pursuing this, I want to make sure that each student jury receives much more than the perfunctory 1-hour “intro to Honor” they currently receive on the morning of the trial.

The Honor Committee, in a technical sense, functions as a student-run judicial body for offenses of lying, cheating, and stealing. What role does the Honor Committee have in promoting honor as an ideal around Grounds?

The Honor Committee’s role as judicial body, while central to making Honor a reality for all students, should always be secondary to its fundamental goal of promoting the ideals of a functioning Honor System to the student body as a whole. Put simply, the Committee needs to do a much better job at doing this by enhancing its educational content, marketing Honor better as the brand that it is, and spending its vast budget on practical initiatives that are actually relevant to Honor outreach, rather than free green books or umbrellas.

Click here to read candidate platforms for those running from the Nursing, Architecture, Batten, Commerce, Medical and Continuing and Professional Studies schools.

Click here to read about the Honor Committee candidates running for the University Judiciary Committee

Click here to read candidate platforms for those running for Student Council representatives.


Published February 24, 2014 in FP test, News





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