As the 2018-2019 academic year begins to wind down, the University’s Honor and Judiciary Committees are beginning the annual process of transitioning administrations which formally took place April 1. In an interview with The Cavalier Daily, Ory Streeter, fourth-year Medical student and outgoing Honor chair, and Kevin Warshaw, fourth-year Engineering student and outgoing UJC chair, reflected upon their time in office and the achievements of their respective organizations during the past year.
Both Streeter and Warshaw said their terms oversaw several major policy accomplishments, including the approval of a series of referenda during University-wide elections in February and increasing outreach efforts through educational and financial co-sponsorships with a variety of student organizations on Grounds.
The Honor Committee is responsible for overseeing the body of support officers who process reports, trials and sanctions for Honor Code violations. The Committee is made up of 27 representatives from every school at the University, with five from the College and two from other schools. According to the Committee’s website, “by today’s standard, an Honor Offense is defined as a Significant Act of Lying, Cheating or Stealing, which Act is committed with Knowledge.”
The UJC oversees case processing, trial hearings and sanctioning for violations of the University’s 12 Standards of Conduct. These standards are adopted by the Board of Visitors, who delegated UJC’s authority in the University’s recognition of student self-governance.
The committee consists of 25 representatives who are elected by the University population — with three representatives for the College and two for all other schools — along with 12 appointed First Year Judiciary Council members and support pools consisting of appointed educators, counselors and investigators.
Honor releases in-depth analysis of case history, reforms mental health impairment policy
Streeter commented on some of the Honor Committee’s greatest projects and accomplishments for the 2018-2019 term, noting that one of the Committee’s foremost efforts since last summer has been collecting and analyzing years of case data that culminated in the Bicentennial Report — a historical and statistical review of the Honor System at the University compiled and analyzed by the Committee’s Assessment and Data Management Working Group.
The report is the largest internal review of Honor at the University, featuring data from a century of annual dismissals, three decades of data on all sanctions and six years of full data from reports and outcomes. Sanctions are those outcomes of cases in which a student is ultimately considered guilty — whether through an informed or conscientious retraction, leaving the University admitting guilt or through a guilty verdict as handed down through an Honor trial.
The Honor Committee also made internal structural changes, such as the creation of the Support Officer Member at Large position, to help increase communication throughout the Honor process.
Meghan Wingert, a third-year Batten student and Honor support officer at large, attends Honor Committee meetings to serve as a liaison between the support officers and the Committee itself, although the position is non-voting. Streeter emphasized the support officer-at-large’s role in keeping the Committee executives tuned into the activities of the majority of the Honor system’s workers.
In an interview with The Cavalier Daily, Lillie Lyon, a third-year College student and incoming Honor chair, said the scope of the support officer-large-position will be expanded to include additional responsibilities such as oversight over the support officer pool as a whole and greater involvement in training incoming groups of officers.
The Committee also passed a number of legislative amendments to their bylaws and procedures during the most recent term, including an overhaul of the Contributory Health Impairment policy at the end of March.
The Contributory Health Impairment is a policy that allows students to request a health evaluation prior to moving through Honor proceedings to determine if a mental health condition contributed to the commission of the offense, which is typically overseen by the Office of the Dean of Students and conducted by Student Health or the University’s Counseling and Psychological Services.
The Honor Committee’s Contributory Mental Disorder (CMD) Working Group, the Office of Equal Opportunity and Civil Rights, the Office of the University Counsel, the Honor Committee’s legal advisor and the CHI Panel were largely responsible for reworking the policy. After undergoing three revision versions, the new CHI policy will go into effect April 14 under the new Committee leadership’s term.
Changes include the adjustment of claim timelines from 10 to seven days, the reimplementation of the requirement to admit act during the CHI process, and a restructuring of the process that allows students to take both the Informed Retraction and the CHI.
Other bylaw amendments include a March 23 change allowing students in credit-granting certificate-seeking programs to be representatives on the Honor Committee instead of just degree-seeking students.
In reflection on the term, Streeter also noted the Committee’s efforts to reach out to underrepresented groups in the community for co-sponsored events this term.
“We spent 10 to 15 percent of our budget on co-sponsorships trying to amplify the voice of some of the more marginalized communities within the University and sort of proud of that work and the co-sponsorships there,” Streeter said.
During the 2019 fiscal year, the Honor Committee had a budget of about $185,000 from University-allocated funds and almost $27,000 from the Committee’s $3.3 million endowment overseen by the Alumni Association.
Lyon said Honor’s outreach has been focused on underrepresented groups at the University in recent years through the community relations and diversity advisory committee, which is made up of representatives from a variety of minority organizations on Grounds. Lyon added that the committee acts as a liaison between underrepresented communities and Honor.
UJC translates governing documents, looks to grow endowment
The outgoing UJC administration met March 31 for its final meeting of the 2018-19 term, ushering in third-year College student Shannon Cason as the committee’s new chair. Warshaw discussed the UJC’s year in review during this last meeting of his tenure.
In a presentation during the meeting, Warshaw reflected on a year of cases and committee growth. The UJC heard about 52 percent of cases — 33 cases were tried out of the 61 accused students and two accused groups, who were alleged of a total of 75 Standard of Conduct violations. A UJC newsletter will be shared with the University community this week and will include comprehensive details of the year’s case, standard and sanction statistics.
The most commonly alleged of the 12 standards was standard six, which had 31 allegations and references violations of “The Record.” The Record is a catalog of information about the University published annually by the University Registrar and includes Housing and Residence Life policies and policies regarding use of University facilities. There were also 21 allegations of standard ten, which references violations of federal, state and local laws that are not explicitly enumerated in UJC standards. The UJC issued 28 admonitions and sanctioned two meetings with deans, five educational classes, 21 essays, 195 hours of community service and one suspension. There were no expulsions sanctioned.
Warshaw also sat down for an exit interview with The Cavalier Daily, where he spoke on specific UJC accomplishments such as recruitment reform, inclusivity and outreach initiatives, creation of an alumni database and the passing of two University-wide referenda.
Warshaw credited Sam Powers, a fourth-year College student and outgoing vice chair for first-years, with revitalizing recruitment efforts in the fall semester to feature an essay-based and name-blind application, which replaced the previous quiz version. Warshaw said this allowed for more substantive analysis of applicants. Warshaw also noted that the committee has placed heightened emphasis on implicit association testing when training its new members, which he said is reinforced throughout the year — “to make sure that we're accounting for that in our trial process.”
“We were able to really see who the candidates were instead of how well they could memorize random facts about the UJC, which we found to be pretty useful in terms of actually analyzing our candidates,” Warshaw said.
Cason, who previously served as senior educator, led an initiative to translate official UJC documents — this year the UJC Standards of Conduct were translated to Mandarin. Warshaw said that this project is still in progress, and UJC intends to translate all of its official documents to Mandarin and Spanish.
“Shannon Cason has sort of put an emphasis on translating our documents, just so that it's more accessible to students of all backgrounds,” Warshaw said. “I think that's been a brilliant success, [but] it's an ongoing process.”
Warshaw added that UJC also promoted inclusivity with the implementation of gender-neutral pronouns in its constitution and bylaws. The update was stipulated, along with the use of “contributory health impairments” rather than “psychological conditions,” in the University-wide referendum to modernize constitutional language — one of two UJC referenda passed in the spring general election. The executive committee took the initiative to implement this change in all governing documents, which extended gender neutrality to bylaws.
The other referendum also passed to refine the statute of limitations for complaint resubmissions to 14 calendar days, so that accused students are made aware of any charges that may be against them within the newly defined time period.
Cason’s educational efforts, Warshaw said, allowed UJC educators to build this outreach in “a more targeted approach,” which delegated educators to specific student organizations as liaisons to foster long term relationships with other groups on Grounds. Warshaw also noted that the creation of a Diversity and Engagement Committee promoted UJC outreach in the committee.
“We were able to hear some of their concerns about how the UJC operates, foster ideas there in terms of what we could be doing better, what we as a Committee need to improve upon,” Warshaw said. “That sort of set in motion a few of our other initiatives this year, so I thought that it worked out really well.”
Internally, Warshaw said UJC has begun compiling an alumni database of the Committee, which he said will benefit the committee in the long-run, as it builds up its recently-established endowment to expand funding opportunities. The endowment was established in consultation with the Committee by UJC alumni and the University's Office of the Vice President during the 2017-2018 academic year and currently holds about $13,000 but is not yet in use as a source of funding.