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Honor Committee hosts first-ever Honor Week

The events, designed to increase student engagement with the Committee, will run Feb. 4 through Feb. 9

<p>Events include a Q&amp;A about joining the Honor Committee, an Honor System Walkthrough, a multi-sanction town hall, a mock hearing and several tabling events to survey students about their experience with the Honor system.</p>

Events include a Q&A about joining the Honor Committee, an Honor System Walkthrough, a multi-sanction town hall, a mock hearing and several tabling events to survey students about their experience with the Honor system.

The University Honor Committee will host an Honor Week full of student events from Feb. 4 through Feb. 9. These events, such as the dinner with Honor Alumni, an information ethics seminar and “cookie chats” with Honor representatives, are designed to foster student engagement with the Committee.  

A previous amendment to the Honor Constitution, passed in 2017, required the Committee to host a biannual popular assembly to create space for student participation and feedback. After the multi-sanction referendum in March 2023, this amendment was again changed to require an annual popular assembly. With a myriad of events designed to improve community engagement, the Committee turned this popular assembly into the first ever annual Honor Week. 

Throughout the week, the Committee will host several information sessions and open dialogues to collect student feedback. These include a Q&A about joining the Committee, an Honor System Walkthrough, a multi-sanction town hall, a mock hearing and several tabling events to survey students about their experience with the Honor system.

According to Hamza Aziz, Committee chair and fourth-year College student, each of these events aim to educate the student body and Charlottesville community about the new multi-sanction system which provides a set of possible injunctions beyond expulsion for students who break the Honor Code. 

“This is the first year where we're branding it as Honor Week and really making it a larger scale event,” Aziz said. “We're partnering with a lot of organizations and really trying to make it more of a known initiative that students can expect to happen every year.”

Aziz is working with Rachel Liesegang, vice chair for the undergraduate community and fourth-year College student, Amelle Chanda, senior educator and third-year College student, and other Honor representatives to plan the many Honor Week events. 

The Honor Committee consists of 29 elected representatives and roughly 80 unelected support officers. According to Aziz, the Honor Committee started planning Honor Week events in October 2023. 

Will Hancock, senior educator and second-year College student, said Honor Week is designed to improve student understanding of honor proceedings under the new multi-sanction system.

“There's still not a ton of clarity in the student body about what exactly the new case process looks like with the sanctioning panel and what the new sanctions look like,” Hancock said. “I think [these events] will be really cool, just to get a different angle and be able to physically see the layout [of the Committee]”.

Honor Week will begin with a Committee Kickoff and dinner Feb. 4 at 7:00 p.m, the Committee weekly meeting time. According to Hancock, the University community is encouraged to join and participate in this meeting. 

“Students are welcome to come to Honor Committee meetings every Sunday but [this meeting is] going to have more of a community focus,” Hancock said. “There's going to be more time for input from the community … allowing for more direct feedback to representatives.”

Increasing student engagement with Committee proceedings is a primary goal of Honor Week. When University students voted in favor of the Committee’s multi-sanction system in March, voter turnout was 23.7 percent — double the turnout of the previous year’s election, and the third-highest in the past decade. 

Second-year College student Alysha Johnson expressed interest in attending Honor Week events and learning more about the Committee. 

“I think I actually would be pretty interested in [attending] mostly because I want to learn more about the good sides of Honor,” Johnson said. “I feel like we really only hear about the punishments and different things like that, but don't really get to talk about how cool it is that U.Va. has a student run honor system and [that students] are able to directly interact with people who are making these laws.”

The Honor Committee is also partnering with several University organizations to plan events, including a student roundtable with several Contracted Independent Organization leaders and a student self governance panel with the University Board of Elections. Other events include a live debate between the Jefferson Society and the Washington Society and an AI Exchange with the Karsh Institute of Democracy in which AI experts will talk to students about the impact of AI technology.

“There's been a lot of willingness around grounds among student leaders, but also among administrators to work with Honor on Honor Week events,” Aziz said. “With these partnerships, we're able to tap into the audience's that those organizations are reaching and expand who we can engage with.”

To further encourage student engagement, the Committee is hosting a series of giveaways, starting with free Bodos and Honor Booklets on the South Lawn. Other events include a run with President Jim Ryan and the Committee, as well as an Honor Festival with the University Programs Council as a celebratory end to the week. 

Though Honor Week is a University-wide program, the Committee discussed strategies for promoting specific schools throughout Honor Week. Maille Bowerman, a fourth-year Architecture school representative, spoke about reaching architecture students through a drawing canvas open to the public. 

“A [community art installation] is kind of popular for the school,” Bowerman said. “We [could] post a large [canvas] where people could write or draw what the honor system means to them.”

According to Aziz, the ultimate goal of the week is to receive as much student feedback as possible.  

“The work that's being put into Honor Week is really to better the honor system,” Aziz said. “We hope to consolidate feedback, identify themes that come up out of events, surveys and tabling, identify students' concerns and perceptions, and really gather all of that not just for the sake of gathering it, but to act on it afterwards.”


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