Under the leadership of Gabrielle Bray, previous Honor chair and fourth-year College student, students voted to make the most drastic change yet to the Honor system. More than 88 percent of students voted this March to transform the current single-sanction policy to a robust multi-sanction system. In an interview with The Cavalier Daily, Bray reflected on her term and reiterated the role of the student body in ensuring the transition to this historic system.
Bray entered her position following last spring’s student referendum where students voted to reduce the single-sanction of expulsion to a two-semester leave of absence.
Due to this historic change, student interest in Honor — both positive and negative — was at a high, according to Bray, who said the environment provided a unique opportunity for the Committee to continue to progress towards a constitutional redesign as she stepped into the position of chair.
“We had this tremendous interest in what Honor was doing,” Bray said. “And we had to figure out how to answer that call.”
The multi-sanction system has been an effort decades in the making, with the ultimate goal of offering a larger range of sanctions and more opportunities for student improvement and reflection rather than punishment.
Bray said her biggest goal was to get the Honor system “back on track” in terms of functionality after a term of ambitious changes.
“We didn’t have working bylaws, we didn’t have our case processing system,” Bray said. “It was a really stressful few moments where we needed to get things back up and running.”
Bray also organized the Honor Constitutional Convention fall semester — a planned meeting of 30 delegates from CIOs across Grounds that gathered to discuss and propose changes to the constitution. Despite the Committee’s efforts, the convention was delayed and ultimately failed to create a workable outcome during the fall semester.
The convention was postponed twice, first due to concerns over the lack of graduate student representation in the convention. The November 13 shooting — that resulted in the deaths of three students and the injury of two other students — further delayed the meetings.
Bray said she felt some regret surrounding the Convention’s delays and deeply wished it would have been successful.
“I wish I had been able to make the October plan for the Constitutional Convention work,” Bray said. “There ended up being other factors that prevented that from happening normally, but I wish we had been able to make it happen.”
Despite issues organizing the Convention, roughly 20 of the 30 delegates were able to meet in January, and their recommendations were proposed to the Committee. These recommendations were then debated amongst the Committee and voted on favorably by the Committee in February, which formally sent the multi-sanction system to the student body.
Though the first hurdle of the student referendum has been passed, Bray said the incoming Committee must continue working to ensure the smooth transition of the historic system.
“[The Committee has] got to be in continued conversation with the student body about what these changes mean,” Bray said. “They also need to communicate about what they're doing and why they're doing it, and why the community of trust should embrace these ideals.”
In Bray’s perspective, student buy-in and engagement with Honor were at the forefront of her term. Across the University, Honor representatives worked to not only encourage students to vote for the referendum, but to also help them learn about the Honor system, and why they should care about it.
According to Bray, the new constitution was a big step for Honor, but she still thought that more needed to be done from the Committee to earn the trust and respect from the student body.
“Trust and respect are something you earn and we have not earned it necessarily for a while,” Bray said. “We got people involved in conversations with us, but not necessarily because they trusted us, but because they wanted us to be better.”
This term also presented new challenges to academic integrity. During the late fall, a revolutionary generative Artificial Intelligence program known as ChatGPT launched. The technology is the fastest AI platform to reach 100 million users and can do anything from solving basic arithmetic to writing academic papers.
During Bray’s term, the Committee also worked to address concerns surrounding academic integrity and AI and helped form the Generative AI in Teaching and Learning Task Force which aims to get faculty and student input on AI as well as give recommendations to the provost on how to combat generative AI.
Bray said that she hopes the important conversations surrounding AI will continue, and that faculty and students alike would discuss the meaning of academic integrity in an AI landscape.
“I'm hoping that we can actually have some conversations between students and faculty and Honor about what academic integrity can look like on Grounds,” Bray said.
Despite challenges within the past year, the vote to approve a multi-sanction system certainly marks this term as historic — Honor has functioned under a single-sanction system since its inception in 1825. As Bray reflected on her term, she hoped to be remembered both as a chair and as a part of a larger Committee that enacted change and opportunity.
“I hope they will remember us as the committee who got the ball rolling, and to who actually gave them the opportunity to implement multi-sanction in a meaningful way,” Bray said.
The incoming Committee will be led by third-year College student Hamza Aziz, who previously served on the Committee as Vice Chair for Investigations and contributed to writing the new Honor constitution.