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Honor Committee updates online learning module, reflects on semester takeaways

Sunday marked the last public meeting of the semester

<p>The Honor module is <a href="https://honor.virginia.edu/honor-module?check_logged_in=1"><u>designed</u></a> to familiarize incoming University students with the Honor System and is a prerequisite for enrollment at the University.</p>

The Honor module is designed to familiarize incoming University students with the Honor System and is a prerequisite for enrollment at the University.

The Honor Committee held its final open session meeting of the semester Sunday to discuss potential updates to the Honor module, a mandatory informational course for first-year students about the Honor System’s policies and procedures. The proposed revisions will feature more information surrounding academic integrity, incorporate informative videos and potentially require University students to complete the module again sometime after they matriculate. The revisions are planned to be finished by summer and be used to educate the incoming class of students this year.

The Honor module is designed to familiarize incoming University students with the Honor System and is a prerequisite for enrollment at the University. Currently, the course consists of readings, but the Committee has decided to strengthen engagement by incorporating interactive buttons and Committee-produced videos throughout the module.

Hamza Aziz, chair of the Committee and fourth-year College student, said that the Committee is partnering with a local media organization, Silver Streak Media, to produce the videos with various Committee members. Additional versions of the videos will be prepared for current students and faculty. 

“[We’re] making three- to five- minute videos [about Honor] for these sub-audiences … that's a media format that Honor hasn't leveraged before,” Aziz said. “It also was suggested to us by a few different [student] organizations that we utilize that media type.”

According to Aziz, one large reason the Committee is upgrading their module is that other Student Information System educational modules will be switching to a new platform, although no changes to SIS have been officially announced yet by the University. 

“As [SIS modules are] switching to a new platform, Honor’s will also be making that switch,” Aziz said. “For that reason, it is a good time to change the content while the whole module is being transitioned anyways.”

Aziz said the Honor module will also expand its information regarding academic integrity violations, including cheating in the classroom. While the current module outlines cheating and what it entails, the Committee wants to include information on why cheating impairs the Community of Trust, according to Aziz.

“[The current module] talks about how a common form of cheating is plagiarism, and that's kind of as deep as it gets in terms of the cheating concept,” Aziz said. “Cheating involves the taking of something that has value … we really easily see that [concept] with physical objects or monetary objects.”

The Committee also discussed the idea of requiring students to complete the Honor module annually or biannually.

Kasra Lekan, fourth-year Engineering Rep., said that the Honor modules should ideally be completed annually by students — rather than only prior to matriculation.

“I think the other Committee members in the room who have been here for three or four years, like me, probably don't recall doing [the modules] when we first came to the University. So, I think that [annual module completion] would be better,” Lekan said. 

The contents of the updated module will be finalized by the end of March, and the current draft has twelve sections of information. The modules will be launched in June or early July as incoming students begin enrolling in classes. 

The production for the videos within the module will be finished by this summer — an initiative that Aziz will continue to work on even after the new chair is appointed at this weekend’s retreat and his term ends shortly thereafter. 

To conclude the meeting, Committee members spoke on roadblocks and successes endured this term. Nishita Ghanate, vice chair for investigations and fourth-year College student, said the University seemed to appreciate the shift to a multi-sanction system, but that the Committee should continue to expand community outreach. The multi-sanction referendum was passed in spring 2023 with over 88 percent of participants voting in support, and initiatives such as the winter semester survey demonstrated increased efforts to boost student engagement with the Committee. 

“In my interactions with professors [and students], people [said] Honor has this potential to do a lot of good and has changed for the better [through] the multi-sanction [system],” Ghanate said.  “But, I think it's important that the reason that that image has become so prevalent in the communities [is because] we've all done a really great job of continuing outreach … we should continue to do that over the next couple of years.” 

One way in which the Committee expanded outreach this term was through the creation of Honor Week, a week-long event designed to foster engagement between the Committee and the University community.  Throughout the week, the Committee organized a range of events, including informational sessions and roundtable gatherings with other student organizations. In a previous meeting, Aziz said that Honor Week will take place annually moving forward. 

Laura Howard, vice chair for hearings and third-year College student, said that the Committee succeeded in reflecting on procedures and circumstances to make a positive impact in the University community. 

“One great [accomplishment] is that we weren’t afraid to question why we were doing something, even if it was just historical … we didn't just rely on it because it already existed, we [thought] about it,” Howard said. “I would encourage future committees to do that too … to interrogate it.” 

Aziz gave a concluding statement, thanking the Committee for their hard work and collaboration over the past term. 

“I want to say thank you guys, for a great term, for trusting me. Honor has defined my last eleven months and two weeks in every way that it could. And I wouldn't want [it] to have looked any differently,” Aziz said. 

The Committee adjourned the meeting at their scheduled end time of 8 p.m. They will hold internal elections for chair positions this weekend during their retreat at Graves Mountain Lodge.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article incorrectly quoted Howard as saying she encouraged feature committees to interrogate the Committee’s procedures and circumstances. Howard said she encouraged future committees to interrogate these things, and this article has since been updated to reflect this change.

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