Honor Committee elections and referenda voting open online Friday. In addition to electing representatives, students will have the opportunity to vote on the referenda to change the current Honor single-sanction system. The referenda are comprised of three proposals — the first two are binding constitutional amendments and the third is non-binding.
Candidates for College Honor representative Ian Robertson and Jaeyoon Park, both third-year College students, are spearheading the multi-sanction system campaign. Both are current Honor support officers and said they do not have the means to propose their referendum from inside the Honor Committee.
“We are putting these forth as students not as honor support officers,” Park said. “We had to go through the channels as any other student who is not on the Honor Committee would do because we are support officers.”
Robertson said the campaign for self-governance is not simply a way to change the current single-sanction system, but a means of instigating dialogue between the Honor Committee and the student body.
“The campaign for self governance is not about sinking the current single-sanction system,” Robertson said. “It’s because fundamentally Honor should mean something more than the current sanctioning policy of the current Honor Committee.”
Robertson and Park said they believe giving students a more concrete system to share their voices can change the system that does not take into account enough student voice. On a broader level, they said they are trying to create an attitude change and a cultural shift to better value student voice and student input in the current system.
“There is an attitude that as an elected honor committee representative, you know best and you know what it takes to uphold the system,” Robertson said. “From a democratic standpoint, that’s problematic ... At the core, it is one of the deepest problems why students don’t want to buy into the system.”
Honor Committee Chair Nicholas Hine, a fourth-year College student, said he believes the issue needs to be addressed as single-sanction versus multi-sanction, not as a campaign for self-governance.
“Essentially at U.Va. this is the kind of thing we care about and talk about,” Hine said. “Not the campaign for self-governance, but it is the multi-sanction proposal.”
Hine said he supports the single-sanction and values trust and integrity by doing things the right way instead of simply getting ahead, but he said he is troubled by the new proposed referenda.
“One of my biggest concerns is about the harsh nature of the [single] sanction,” Hine said. “[The harsh nature] was very much alleviated with the [Informed Retraction] two years ago. It provides an opportunity for forgiveness. I’m less worried about the singular harsh nature of the single sanction.”
Second-year College student Rick Yoder, who currently runs the Facebook group called “Vote No For Honor 2015,” is in opposition to the multi-sanction proposal.
“If we are unwilling to maintain a single sanction for honor offenses, then we're essentially saying that those offenses aren't substantively different than offenses adjudicated by UJC — which does have a multi-sanction system,” Yoder said. “So why maintain the Honor Committee at all? If we're going to get rid of the single sanction, we might as well collapse Honor into UJC for greater efficiency.”
Robertson and Park said they are grateful for the dialogue Yoder has provided to the debate, and they said they think there needs to be more weight placed in student input in the Honor system.
“It is important to gage student body opinion,” Park said. “We need to consider whether changes need to [be] made to the system.”