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Honor Committee candidate platforms: Nursing, Commerce, Architecture, Batten, Law, Medical, Continuing and Prof. Studies

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 the Nursing, Architecture, Batten, Commerce, Medical and Continuing and Professional Studies schools are listed below. Click here to read about the Representatives from the College and Engineering School.

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

Landon Wilkins

Running for: Continuing & Professional Studies 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? Yes

Sexual assault is, in itself, a dishonorable and unethical act committed knowingly by an individual. If that doesn’t describe an honor offense I don’t know what does.

Tae Seo Running for: Nursing 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 sexual assault be considered an Honor offense? No

If elected, I am going to have constant interactions with Nursing Student Council and Class Councils to come up with events to engage the students to learn more about the foundation and current projects of the Honor System. The inconsistency of Honor trial verdicts has been pointed out by the faculties and staffs many times. I personally do believe it is a problem. I believe a part of this problem comes from the student body’s lack of understanding of the Honor System. There are many students who are engaged and are up-to-date on Honor news; however, majority of the students at the University are not. I believe engaging students with Honor education events can help the student body with grasping the true picture of the Honor System and thus carry a consistent Honor trial verdicts. Honor Committee being a student-run judicial body places a great responsibility on each of the students at the University. Everyone is holding each other accountable for the actions they carry out. It creates a sense of community for all the students on Grounds. Honor Committee helps to build the community of trust by holding investigations on reported Honor offenses and come out with a verdict which decides whether the accused student remains in the community of trust created by the student body or leaves the institution. The Honor Committee exemplifies the value of honor to the University thus help promote it to the greater student body.

Tyler Pitt

Running for: Architecture 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 sexual assault be considered an Honor offense? No

Like many students I find the idea that a student can be expelled from the University for cheating on a 10 point quiz, but not for sexual assault very inconsistent. However I do not believe the Honor Committee should have jurisdiction over sexual misconduct cases. In my opinion the structures of the Honor system are built to investigate and adjudicate issues of academic integrity. While Honor trials are often very complicated and emotional affairs I do not think the system can effectively and fairly handle issues of sexual misconduct. I believe that these issues are too personal, too confrontational, and too complex, especially if alcohol is involved, to have student juries unwrap and deliberate on fairly and consistently. That said, I am in favor of hasher sanctions for students found guilty of sexual misconduct. Our Community of Trust involves the entire University, not just the proceedings of the Honor Committee and I believe UJC has a crucial role to play in preserving our Community of Trust as well. I believe that if the University community believes that sexual misconduct is a violation that is inconsistent with our Community of Trust, and that it should carry the same penalty as a guilty verdict at an Honor Trial then UJC would do well to issue harsher sanctions to those found guilty of sexual assault.

I do believe the inconsistency of verdicts at Honor trials is an issue. As a Counsel I have seen many cases where I have been surprised by the verdict. This has been an issue for a long time, and committees past and present have been working hard to find a solution to this issue. Last year the “Restore the Ideal” campaign tried to fix the problem of inconsistent verdicts by removing the option to have all student and mixed student and committee member panels. Last spring the student body forcefully rejected this proposal and the committee has been looking for different ways to remedy the issue. I think it is important to realize that the Honor system does not work off precedent; every case is investigated and deliberated on its own merit. Because jurors, whether randomly selected students or committee members, cannot look to past cases to form their decisions, there will always be a degree of inconsistency. I believe more robust juror training, or even creating a randomly selected but voluntarily participant pool of jurors who serve on multiple trials, could help deliver more consistent verdicts. While it would seem unfair two students to receive different verdicts for the same alleged act, it is up to each individual jury to come to a decision. Our system of self-governance gives students the duty to investigate the evidence and interpret what they believe to be the community standards of honor at the University before coming to a decision. Honor means different things to different people at the University, and every jury panel will interpret out community standards differently. I believe this inconsistency due to differing viewpoints and experiences is important and valuable to student self-governance. What I believe is more of an issue is jurors coming in to the trial room without a good understanding of the definitions and procedures that create a Honor trial, and this is a problem that can be fixed.

Charles Gamper

Running for: Law 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 sexual assault be considered an Honor offense? No

The strongest support for the single sanction at trial is the fact that the student body continues to vote to preserve it.

I have limited knowledge of how the new support officer organization is working out, but I see advantages in support officers receiving training in a wider set of skills.

The Honor Committee recently created Honor Rep positions for within each first year section of law students (around 30 students per section). These Honor Reps are an effective source of two-way communication and I believe their roles can be expanded as the program gains support in the Law School. Additionally, I plan to pursue creative ways to incentivize Honor Newsletter enrollments and facilitate easy feedback mechanisms.

It would be a problem to have every trial return the same result. The Honor Committee also has the duty to promote the benefits of the University’s Community of Trust. One of the benefits for law students is the opportunity to prepare for membership in the legal profession, which carries its own set of ethical obligations.

Brett Rappaport

Running for: Architecture 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 sexual assault be considered an Honor offense? No

Ashley Self

Running for: Nursing 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

An important way that we can promote interaction between the Honor Committee and the student body is by encouraging attendance at the bi-weekly meetings that are open to the public. This is a time when students can participate in discussions with the working groups about honor and have direct communication with the Honor Committee Representatives. In addition, as a Nursing Honor Representative, I would be able to interact and communicate with the majority of my nursing peers on a daily basis, since the School of Nursing is a smaller school. I would be able to encourage more involvement with honor among nursing students, and serve as a resource to students to come to with any opinions, concerns, or questions regarding honor at UVA.

Jacqueline Bechara

Running for: Law School Representative

Do you support single sanction? Yes
Should Honor be required to publish its budget and spending regularly? No
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

I would make myself available to students by giving my name and contact information to professors to list on their syllabi and exam cover sheets, as well as to peer advisors and leaders of organizations representing minority students. On a broader scale, I also hope to continue the dialogue about Honor by engaging students both in the Law School and in the greater University community about the issues currently facing the Honor system.

Yes, we see a troubling amount of variation in verdicts because of issues such as jury nullification or differential treatment based on each student’s approach to his Honor trial.

I think that the most effective way to remedy the systemic problems with the Honor system are to increase education and outreach efforts. When people are better informed about the system, its consequences, and its benefits, they will be better able to and more willing to enforce it effectively and consistently.

The Honor Committee has a unique role in preserving a tradition of academic integrity that sets UVA apart from its peer institutions. Its job is not only to inform students about the Honor code itself, and how the system functions, but also to be responsive to student feedback on the effectiveness of the Honor system so that Honor can change as the student body and the nature of our education system changes. We have a special responsibility that goes beyond simply reprimanding Honor offenses: the Committee is responsible for ensuring that students are willing to uphold the Community of Trust since, after all, it is the students who have ensured that our Honor system endure for well over a century.

Liz Minneman

Running for: Batten Graduate 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 sexual assault be considered an Honor offense? No

Sexual assault can’t be an Honor offense because of due process laws, but I do think Honor can and should do more to speak out against acts beyond lying, cheating, and stealing that violate our community of trust, such as sexual assault and racism.

I support more transparency and engagement across the board. Instead of putting referenda on the ballot and then reaching out to students to persuade them to vote a certain way, we need to involve the student body in the reform process from the start. There is an unfortunate lack of diversity among the Honor Committee and support officers, so problems exist among different communities of UVA that we are not even aware of. I think we need to go first to the student body to get their opinion on the problem. Yes, as someone who has sat in on trials and seen this problem occur, I do believe jury nullification is a threat to our community of trust. While not every student at UVA has been able to witness this problem firsthand due to confidentiality laws, that doesn’t give Honor the right to decide on a reform on behalf of the student body, put it on the ballot, and then tell students they don’t know as much as people in Honor and they should vote yes. While moving back to an all committee panel may be the most efficient solution to the problem, I understand many students’ concerns that an all committee panel is not in line with the philosophies of Honor and a trial by jury of your peers. Honor has made efforts to improve jury selection and training, but I think if we open up this dialogue to the student body by reaching out to more diverse groups and holding a town hall type event, we may realize there are other solutions to consider. The informed retraction legislation was authored by a student that was not involved with Honor. We need to do more to encourage students to get involved with the system and come up with solutions that represent what our community actually wants. As a senior educator this year, I have worked with other support officers on the Honor awareness week where we tried to remind students about the purpose of Honor beyond just being able to leave your laptops out in the library. Without a strong sense of the Community of Trust in their daily lives, it is difficult for many students to care about Honor and feel they have a role in shaping and upholding it. Honor extends beyond just lying, cheating, and stealing too—even though Honor can’t prosecute other acts like sexual assault and hate crimes, these actions violate our community of trust and Honor should play more of a role in preventing them.

Joe Martin

Running for: Commerce School Representative

Do you support single sanction? Yes
Should Honor be required to publish its budget and spending regularly? No
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

While sexual offense is horrible and in an ideal world should be considered an honor offense, it falls outside of Honor’s jurisdiction for legal reasons. Although sexual offense cannot be an honor offense, Honor can send a strong message to the student body by helping lead the charge against sexual violence. Honor could partner with sexual assault peer education groups like One in Four to host outreach events against sexual offenses.

I do not plan to seek chair, but can’t answer yes or no to whether I intend to seek a vice-chair position.

Honor has struggled in the past with this reputation, but has been working actively to improve it. This year specifically, the Committee has successfully implemented several programs to engage the student body with Honor. Through the “Tell your Honor story” campaign and Honor Umbrellas, the Committee has tangibly brought the benefits of Honor to the attention of UVA students.

If elected to Committee, I would work to continue such events, while also working to increase the educational content of some events. I joined Honor as a counsel support officer during my second year, and until that point, I had no idea how the system worked. Through events such as town-hall and forums, Honor could educate more students on how the system works and also receive student input on changes they would like to see within the system.” Inconsistent verdicts can be a problem within Honor. Juries don’t vote based off precedent, so two students accused of similar offenses could receive different verdicts. Reform the Ideal attempted to address this problem last year with its jury reform. However, the student body decided against that. One way to generate more consistent verdicts would be to create a longer, more thorough jury training process. However, with the busy schedules of involved UVA students, this change might not be possible. Inconsistent verdicts are definitely a complex issue that I would like to explore if elected to Committee.

While the Honor Committee does operate as a body for offenses of lying, cheating, and stealing, this technical definition makes it seem as if Honor’s only serves a punitive purpose and ignores the real purpose of the Committee. The Honor Committee is tasked with upholding the Honor System. What that means is that the Committee must make sure that the Community of Trust remains; that each student can walk through Grounds and assuredly trust his or her fellow students. The Honor Committee must promote honor as an ideal to maintain this environment and show that at its core, Honor is a good thing, not a punishment.

Brendan Evans

Running for: Commerce 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 sexual assault be considered an Honor offense? No

I support the single sanction as it upholds the seriousness of the student body in maintaining a Community of Trust, but I also believe that if a student admits guilt, makes amends, and accepts a one year leave of absence from the University, they should be allowed to return to the university.

Sexual assault is a serious issue at the University and action needs to be taken swiftly. But, I believe sexual assault is outside the parameters of lying, cheating, or stealing, and thus is not an honor offense.

In regards to student representation, I believe that student governance is a vital aspect of the honor system. In order to uphold proper student governance, student’s should be represented by a peer (counsel) who is trained in the processes and by-laws of the honor system.

In the past, the Honor Committee and student body have been disconnected, and the student body’s voice has not been heard. I believe the past two committees, especially the current committee, have made a conscious effort to reach out to the student body to address issues and foster idea creation. If elected, I hope to increase the student body’s conversation on the best role for the Honor Committee at the University. For years the student body’s voice has been left out of the conversation regarding Honor. The two most recent Honor Committees have done a fantastic job of creating a dialogue amongst the student body and faculty on how to improve Honor’s role and impact. I want to continue to push for open forums that generate ideas on how to improve the system and increase the participation by students and faculty. Healthy conversation from all University stakeholders will help strengthen the system and the community of trust. A committee that is run by the students and for the students requires attention to the needs of the student body. I expect to accomplish my goal of increasing student body involvement by gathering all student organization chairs and scheduling leadership forums that generate ideas and evaluations of Honor by our student leaders. These student organizational leaders would be able to speak at their meetings with their organization’s members to create ideas that could be addressed in the leadership forums. These leadership forums would be a great way for Honor to reach a large percentage of student body opinion on how to best improve the system. This participation can increase a sense of trust in Honor around grounds. Only by reaching out to the student body will the Honor Committee be able to improve the system and strengthen the community of trust.

I believe that the inconsistency of honor trial verdicts is a major problem at the University. Student’s that commit similar honor offenses should receive the consistent verdicts and sanctions. To correct the problem, two solutions are apparent. First, honor could move to all Honor Committee juries who have a thorough knowledge of the system and who have experience in trials. The problem with all Committee juries is that accused student’s believe that they should be judged by all students, not a concentrated group. I respect that right and believe that students need to feel that they have experienced the process with no apparent bias present. To properly correct the problem of inconsistent verdicts, I believe the second solution is the ideal solution. Currently, random selected student undergo a one day “crash” course to learn about the intricacies of honor. This one day training session is not enough training for students to properly make decisions of such magnitude. I propose that all randomly selected students undergo more intense training over a course of a few days to prepare them for honor trials. Honor jury roles are much different than jury roles in our justice system. Honor juries ask witnesses questions and perform the due diligence during the trial. Only with proper training will randomly selected juries be able to ask the correct questions and make tough decisions about the future of individual students at our University.

It is every student’s responsibility to hold every peer at the University accountable to the ideals of honor. The community of trust is an ideal that we as a student body try to create in every aspect of our lives in the University community. But, as the faces of the honor system, the Honor Committee needs to take the initiative in leading and promoting the ideals around grounds. Each Honor Committee representative needs to be active around grounds in educating students and faculty on the ideals and by-laws of the system while also listening to the thoughts and ideas of the University community. The honor system needs to be a representation of the collective ideals and beliefs of the entire student body as a whole. Those ideals and beliefs are ever changing and the only way for the honor system to change with those ideals is for the Honor Committee to be active listeners around grounds.

Sean Xiaoyi Yu

Running for: Commerce 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 sexual assault be considered an Honor offense? No

My first goal is to maintain the existing high regards for Honor within the Commerce School and expand on the idea of Honor past the Commerce School. Being honorable means not cheating, lying, or stealing at UVa. But what does honor mean after we graduate and enter the real world? I want to organize events to let students and faculty members discuss the implications of Honor past the University and why it is important to uphold honor now.

My second gold is to bring different perspectives to the committee and help the committee adapt to the increasing diversity at UVa. There are students at UVa who come from places where an Honor System does not exist. These clash of cultures bring challenges to the Honor System. Since it is Honor Committee’s responsibility to educate those students, I want to be the one who solves those difficulties.

If the honor verdicts is based on previous cases, students can start to find way to find loopholes in the system and breach community of Trust.

As I said above, other than promoting the idea of Honor among campus, Honor Committee help the community identify changes in environments and adapt Honor system according in order the preserve the legacy of Honor.

I believe Honor Committee is also responsible bring the idea behind honor to the student body. Integrity is the one thing that every student should pay serious attentions to after he/she graduate and enter the real world.

Steven Samotis

Running for: Continuing & Professional Studies 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 sexual assault be considered an Honor offense? No

The Committee members, as elected representatives, do need to be accessible and connect with the student body through discussions and events. I like meeting with people in informal settings where they feel comfortable asking questions. I am not an authority on any precedence for inconsistent honor trials. Creating a practical understanding of what Honor is and how it works is key. The Honor Committee does this a variety of ways, including promotions through the Honor Educators. Not only is it the responsibility of the Honor Committee to communicate Honor, but for students to be proactive as well. I encourage students to be accountable to each other, and connect with professors and the Committee if they are unclear about Honor issues. Honor is a shared responsibility of everyone in the Community of Trust.

Michael Billet

Running for: Medical School Representative

Do you support single sanction? No
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? No
Should the Honor Chair be elected by the student body instead of the committee? No
Should sexual assault be considered an Honor offense? No

During my two years on Committee, I have found that many of these issues can not be pared down to a simple yes or no answer. Since this is how we vote, I have given my best answer to how I would vote if any of these issues came before us.

In the School of Medicine, my co-rep and I have held numerous outreach sessions to make ourselves accessible and avoid isolation. Both sides raised good points during last year’s attempt at moving to all-Committee juries. I believe that Committee members bring continuity and technical know-how, while non-Committee members bring a diversity of ideas, serve as a check on groupthink, and a prevent a real or perceived isolation by the Committee. I would support a move towards mixed juries; having served on a number of such juries I can speak to effectiveness in pursuit of the truth at trial. While honor is at its core a punitive system, outreach and promotion of the ideal of Honor should be the primary pursuit of any Committee.

Click here to read candidate platforms for those running from the College and the Engineering School

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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