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Honor Committee members discuss outreach initiatives, elects new vice-chair for hearings

The chair also proposed increasing working hours each week for the Committee

<p>The election was concluded following Sunday’s meeting, where Rep. Shunkai Ding, first-year graduate College student was declared the winner.&nbsp;</p>

The election was concluded following Sunday’s meeting, where Rep. Shunkai Ding, first-year graduate College student was declared the winner. 

The Honor Committee met briefly Sunday evening to discuss developing ways to expose more of the student body to the Committee and relationships between the Committee and the School of Law. 16 out of 23 members were present, meaning the Committee met quorum and could vote on constitutional matters. 

The meeting began with executive updates, when Ellie Wilkie, vice-chair for the undergraduate community and fourth-year College student, discussed new developments in an outreach initiative known as Dorm Talks. 

Dorm Talks is a series of 30 to 45 minute discussions about the Honor Committee and its processes held between the Committee’s support officers and students. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the talks were held every fall and were a staple of the first-year experience. Wilkie is currently trying to reboot “Dorm Talks” this term. 

The talks include the traditional “Dorm Talks,” as well as two new types of talks — “Class Talks” and “Greek Talks.” These talks involve Honor support officers visiting dorms, Greek letter organizations and classes. “Greek Talks” extend to all Greek letter organizations on Grounds.

Wilkie is currently reaching out to organizations to schedule the talks, but said some groups have reached out to her to schedule these conversations on their own. Though none have been held yet, Wilkie has all three kinds of diiscussions scheduled for this semester.

“The talks are still going on, but interest is not quite where I want it to be,” Wilkie said. “I would love to get more of these going.”  

Wilkie also proposed developing a Committee-wide newsletter in order to keep representatives updated on events and developments within the Committee and overall.

“I wanted to promote the idea of doing a weekly or bi-weekly newsletter that would go to all of you and to the Committee,” Wilkie said. “My goal would be to keep you guys abreast of what we're thinking about.” 

Following this, Connor Eads, vice-chair for the graduate community and graduate student, began discussion surrounding the group’s constitutional convention. Originally slated to kick off Monday, the convention was delayed due to timing concerns and concerns that groups signed up to attend the convention did not accurately represent the University community raised during last week’s meeting. 

Eads suggested meeting with experts at the University in order to guide the convention’s development. 

“I was thinking of reaching out to some professionals at U.Va. about behavioral ethics as we move forward with convention,” Eads said. “Just to kind of look at our system from that perspective.” 

Following Eads’ update on the convention, Gabrielle Bray, chair of the Committee and fourth-year College student, shifted the conversation and said she thinks the time allocated to the Committee is insufficient. To alleviate this issue, she proposed an idea about additional working hours every week. The Committee currently meets just one hour a week in their weekly Committee meetings on Sundays. 

“One hour a week is perhaps not sufficient for us to be together,” Bray said. “I was thinking of adding not an official meeting, but working hours every week in the office.” 

The Committee then heard individual school updates. 

Law student Rep. Daniel Elliott provided an annual update on the Memorandum of Understanding that the Committee entered into with the School of Law in 2019. 

As a part of the MOU, Committee representatives from the Law school are required to meet annually with Michael Gilbert, vice dean of the School of Law, to ensure that both the School of Law’s Academic and Professional Standards Committee and the Honor Committee are informed of any report or infraction including a Law student. 

Elliott and Law Rep. Robert McLeod recently had a meeting with Gilbert that affirmed the relationship between Honor and the Academic and Professional Standards Committee proceedings. 

“We were pleasantly surprised to learn that if there is a Law student involved in an Honor proceeding, Honor will go first [in the investigation],” Elliott said. “Then the Academic and Professional Standards Committee will go later without missing anything.” 

Elliott also discussed the addition of new Law school educators — Law students who educate their peers about Honor —  including a new educator who is a Master of Laws student. An LLM is a practicing lawyer from a foreign country who travels to the U.S. to become certified in law domestically. 

Elliott discussed the importance of this addition to the Law school educators community, which adds diversity to the Law school educators community as well as Honor. 

“To have an LLM who is interested in being involved with Honor is fantastic,” Elliott said. 

The Committee moved into a closed session at 7:23 p.m. to discuss current cases and elect a new vice-chair for hearings.  Graduate Rep. Shunkai Ding was ultimately declared the winner. 

The next meeting of the Honor Committee will be held on Sunday at 7 p.m. in the Trial Room of Newcomb Hall.