The Honorary Committee begins to reflect on the overhaul of the constitution – The Cavalier Daily

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The Honorary committee held its third in-person meeting of the year on Sunday at 7 p.m. The committee met at Newcomb Hall to discuss potential changes to its Constitution in a series of meetings as the committee attempts to reform its current system of handling cases.

The Honorary Committee is made up of an undergraduate chair, four undergraduate vice-chairs, and a total of 27 representative members. Two representatives are chosen from each of the undergraduate and graduate programs. The College of Arts and Sciences is the only exception, as it has five representatives. Elections are held every spring and members can run for multiple terms.

Sunday’s meeting began with Andy Chambers, chairman of the honor committee and fourth-year college student, handing out a proposal to each representative in attendance that listed five potential options for revising the current honor committee constitution.

“These conversations and plans are my attempt not to sit idly by and give the student body something better than the system we have today,” Chambers said in an emailed statement to Cavalier Daily.

Chambers believes that there are two main reasons for changing the constitution of the Honorary Committee – the first being that these changes will solve the problems the student body has with the current system, and the second is that the random panel and the retraction informed do not serve the student body in the way that Chambers supports.

The informed retraction is a process that allows a student to admit guilt and take two semesters off, rather than go to trial.

In the week leading up to the meeting, five options were presented to Chambers by members of the Graduate and Undergraduate Programs Committee. The members worked together and took student grievances into account, Chambers said. Each option was allowed two rounds for members to express support, followed by opposition.

One of the most important changes discussed is the transition to a system of multiple sanctions. Under the committee’s current single sanction system, a significant act of cheating, theft or lying that undermines the University’s community of trust and is committed in the knowledge that the act was an offense of honor constitutes a offense and is liable to expulsion. Representatives have expressed concerns about the finality of this option, as it does not offer a second chance to a convicted student.

Third-year engineering student representative AJ Cuddeback has served as a resident advisor for the past two years and shared the feelings of a few residents concerned about the single sanction system. Specifically, Cuddleback said the students were concerned about the severity of the expulsion following an incident of cheating, lying or theft.

“It’s not something that makes a student body feel like the system is working for them and I think it was something anyone else would see,” Cuddeback said.

The honorary committee published a statistical report portal last May to provide the student body with data that was previously only accessible to committee members. According to the portal, between spring 2017 and fall 2020, 286 reports to Honor for cheating, theft and lying resulted in hearings. Since 2017, only five students have been convicted of an honor offense, and all five offenses result from cheating.

The second option discussed included the requirement of a two-semester long marking on a student’s transcript indicating that an honor violation had been committed. Gabrielle Bray, vice-president of hearings and third-year college student, was one of three members to propose the plan.

“Ideally, transcript scoring allows students to re-engage in the community of trust, while maintaining some of the integrity of the system,” Bray said.

A fourth proposal included the elimination of the expulsion penalty unless a student had already committed an honor offense during his stay at the university. This was proposed by Representative Christopher Benos, a third year law student, and was supported by Representative Megan Wingert, a third year law student.

“I think it is very difficult to justify [students] and their families why eviction should always be an option, except in the most serious cases, ”Wingert said. “I don’t think our goal should be to solve all the problems, but I think our goal this year should be to solve a problem.”

At the end of the meeting, two proposals were eliminated. One included the possibility for the Honorary Committee to make changes to the sanctions by amending its statutes each year.

Ultimately, this plan met with opposition from more than two-thirds of the membership because representatives feared it would implement some form of consistent sanction – an honor committee might choose to use a single sanction system one year, while the next could opt for different sanctions. .

Rep Lucian Mirra, a sophomore education student, said making changes every year would not give students a concrete idea of ​​the penalties for honor offenses.

“I think coming up with a proposal with real sanctions that students can decide on is what we really need to focus our efforts on,” Mirra said.

Another plan that was scrapped would have instituted three main changes to the constitution – it would have made it possible to determine penalties at a student hearing, eliminate informed retraction, and get rid of the possibility for a student to choose to have a random panel of students during their hearing.

At its meeting next week, the committee plans to work on combining aspects of the three remaining plans to create a more detailed and workable solution. In order to move forward with the changes to its constitution, the committee would need a two-thirds majority vote. After that, the student body would have to approve the changes – for this to happen, 10 percent of the student body would have to vote and 60 percent of the students would have to vote for the changes.

Students and interested community members can observe in the testing room at Newcomb Hall on Sundays at 7 p.m.


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