The Faculty Member and the Honor System

Student life is characterized by a commitment to student self-governance with a strong focus on developing leadership skills and building a vibrant, safe residential community. Students are charged with both freedom and responsibility for their individual and collective actions. The Honor System, which is based on the concept of a Community of Trust, forms the heart of student self-governance. The following is reprinted from the Honor Committee’s summary review for faculty. For further information regarding any topic, please refer to www.virginia.edu/honor, or call the Honor Committee offices at any time at (434) 924-7602.

Honor is a core value of the University of Virginia, an integral part of its educational mission, and the foundation of the student experience. As such, the Honor System applies both in the classroom and beyond. Below is a brief introduction to the Honor System; we encourage you to seek additional information during your time at the University.
  • The University's Honor System was inaugurated in 1842 and is the oldest entirely student-run honor system in the country. Twenty-seven students are elected by the student body from each of the University’s 12 schools to serve on the Honor Committee for a yearlong term. Approximately 100 students selected through an application process also serve in supporting roles as Educators, Advisors, and Counsel.
  • The Honor System represents one of the purest forms of Student Self-Governance at the University, and all Honor cases are investigated and adjudicated solely by students.
  • An Honor Offense is defined as any Act of Lying, Cheating, or Stealing, where such act was committed with Knowledge, and is Significant.
  • Although the Honor System is student-run, faculty members have a very important role within the System. The majority of cases handled by the Committee are cheating cases brought to the System by a faculty member or teaching assistant.
  • Students found guilty of an Honor offense are suspended from the University for two semesters, and those who have graduated from the University are subject to degree holds by the General Faculty.
  • Students who believe they may have committed an Honor Offense can admit to that offense and make amends without suffering the penalty of suspension by filing a Conscientious Retraction (CR); a CR can only be filed before a student has any reason to believe he or she may be under suspicion for committing the offense.
  • Students who have been reported for an Honor Offense also have the ability to make amends by admitting such offense, filing an Informed Retraction (IR), and taking a two-semester Honor Leave of Absence, akin to an academic suspension. An IR must be filed within seven days of being notified about the Honor report by the Honor Committee.
  • If you think you may have witnessed an Honor offense or discovered cheating in your class, you can talk to an Honor Advisor or Committee Representative by calling (434) 924-7602, or contact the Committee through its web site. Discussing the matter with an Honor Advisor or Committee Representative is confidential and does not bind you to report an Honor case.
  • Faculty members interested in becoming directly involved with the Honor System can join the Faculty Advisory Committee (FAC), a subcommittee of the Honor Committee consisting of students and faculty who serve as a liaison between the faculty and the Honor System.
  • Students deeply value the trust placed in them under the Honor System and can be counted on to comport themselves with integrity. We hope that, as a result, you will find that your experience teaching at UVA is a richer one, and that your relationship with your students is more positive and productive as a function of your trust in them.

The Honor Committee recommends that faculty work to be as explicit as possible in their syllabi and communications with students as to what may constitute cheating in their course. The Committee also recommends requiring all students to write out and sign the Honor pledge on all graded work. The pledge serves as a signed reaffirmation of the student's commitment to academic integrity; the standard pledge reads: "On my honor as a student, I have neither given nor received unauthorized aid on this assignment/exam."

Faculty members have the discretion to assign grades, or take other appropriate academic measures, regardless of the outcome of any Honor proceedings. The assignment of grades and other academic measures are subject to University policies and procedures, including grade appeals.