February 11, 2019
On behalf of the University of Virginia Honor Committee, welcome to the Honor Bicentennial Report. As UVA celebrates its bicentennial in 2019, the Honor System celebrates 177 years of storied tradition and continued evolution. Today’s University is very different than 200 years ago. We have grown dramatically in size. We have been strengthened by diversity. And for 177 years our Honor System has evolved to meet the needs of each successive generation of students. With your support, it will meet the needs of generations to come.
This project began as a response to the Honor Audit Commission’s 2018 report but quickly grew into something much more. As the Bicentennial Report took shape, we deliberately chose to explore the complex history of honor with a willingness to confront difficult moments, openly acknowledge current challenges, and prepare for continued service to the Community of Trust. The Honor Committee, as stewards of the Honor System, felt a serious obligation to present a candid, thoughtful, and self-reflective analysis designed to engage the entire University. At times, our Bicentennial Report is celebratory, and at others, somber. But it is always honest. We are proud of our approach and look forward to engaging the community’s response.
The Bicentennial Report has been divided into eight sections but there are three overlapping themes - data, history, and stories. On their own, any one of these themes would generate content worthy of extensive study but their true power lies in the strength of their intersection. We are releasing - for the first time in the history of the Honor Committee - 100 years of Honor System case data. That data can only be understood in the context of the Honor System’s unique history at UVA. That history is best told through the unique and personal stories of the Honor System. Those stories, in turn, compel us to engage the available data as we work together to improve the University. Too often, the available data has been guarded and the history forgotten, a disservice to the University seeking to improve its most cherished tradition. With this report, we attempt to share the full story of the Honor System, in the spirit that defines it.
The spirit of honor extends far beyond the prohibition of lying, cheating, and stealing - for the absence of those negative behaviors does not guarantee a positive community. We must, instead, embrace the reciprocal values of those infamous honor violations. We must be honest - with ourselves and with each other. We must choose integrity - especially when no one is watching. We must serve generously - giving our time and talents for the benefit of others. Because at the University of Virginia, honor is more than a pledge. It’s a community. And every honest action - every good deed - every kind word - strengthens our community ... and your connection to it. Thank you for your honesty, your integrity, and your generosity. Wahoowa!
~ Ory Streeter (Medicine, 2019)
Honor Committee Chair (2018-19)