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EDITORIAL: A new leaf for Honor

We are optimistic for Honor’s new term — newly elected officials means a new opportunity for a student-governing body that respects students demands

<p>In light of the historic referendum vote, we as an Editorial Board have chosen to remain hopeful for the future of Honor.</p>

In light of the historic referendum vote, we as an Editorial Board have chosen to remain hopeful for the future of Honor.

The University’s student body overwhelmingly voted to pass a historic amendment to the Honor Committee’s single sanction policy this year. Marking the biggest change to Honor since its inception, students unequivocally proved the impact we can have on student self-governance. Throughout this term, Honor has dealt with a host of internal problems — particularly, a lack of transparency and accountability. However, we believe that this amendment’s passage proves change is always possible. A new term means Honor’s practices and norms moving forward are a decision for newly-elected representatives to make — for better or for worse, this is a new start. New representatives —  dedicate yourselves to transparency and accountability this year. Here are a few suggestions.

Internal elections present the first opportunity for representatives to commit themselves fully to these ideals. The way these elections have been historically conducted presents a particularly troubling trend of secrecy within Honor. Typically, the Committee holds its internal elections to select executive committee members during closed session. Internal elections should not be a secret affair into which students have no insight. Students should know who is running for what position and what those candidates’ platforms are. Though only Honor representatives vote for committee chairs, representatives should hear constituents’ opinions before casting their own vote. Honor cases may occur privately, but an elective process with the potential to affect any University student should not. At the very least, Honor should permit public discussion prior to internal elections. Particularly given the ambiguity and allegations surrounding last year’s election, it is evident that the student body needs access to these proceedings. We call on the Honor Committee to make its elections more accessible, more accountable and more democratic. 

In light of the historic referendum vote, we as an Editorial Board have chosen to remain hopeful for the future of Honor. Students have shown that they want to be heard, and Honor representatives — whether re-elected or newly-elected — are now tasked with hearing and responding to them. The student body desires an increasingly rehabilitative Honor system — one that seeks to assist students rather than solely punishing them. As such, we encourage the incoming Honor Committee to respect the desires of University students and dedicate themselves to implementing an effective and rehabilitative Honor system. 

We also call for the use of remote and proxy voting for Committee members — in order to be effective, the Committee simply has to meet. Honor has not met quorum since Nov. 3 and following student body elections, the Committee’s chair canceled all remaining meetings. Despite calls from representatives to implement virtual meeting and voting options, leadership remained resistant to its members requests for hybrid meetings. Quite frankly, we are sick of the Committee’s strict dependence on Robert's Rules of Order to substantiate why it has been inflexible in its meeting formats. Student Council uses this same system and has conducted hybrid meetings this entire academic year. Honor must employ measures that allow them to take action and be accountable to student demands. Though COVID-19 cases have been tracking downwards this semester, Honor should nonetheless increase its accessibility for members unable to make meetings for extremely valid reasons, including the difficulty and cost of finding transportation, professional commitments and the fact that we still live in a pandemic.

Honor must serve current students. The community will not benefit from an Honor Committee that completely conceals its executive members’ elections. Students should not be served by an Honor Committee stained by canceled meetings and failures to meet quorum due to stubborn leadership. Students should not be served by an Honor Committee that refuses to be held accountable. This is a new term. Let it initiate a truly transparent and accountable Honor Committee.

The Cavalier Daily Editorial Board is composed of the Executive Editor, the Editor-in-Chief, the two Opinion Editors, their Senior Associate and an Opinion Columnist. The board can be reached at eb@cavalierdaily.com.

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