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Undergraduate Honor System shares innovative changes, best practices

October 31, 2017

Undergrad Honor Delegates
Virginia Tech's Honor Council delegates welcomed students from the College of William & Mary to share best practices of the Undergraduate Honor System.

Virginia Tech recently hosted students and faculty from the College of William & Mary to show them the innovative changes and best practices Virginia Tech has implemented in its Undergraduate Honor System.

The College of William & Mary, which is in Williamsburg, Virginia, has the oldest Honor Code in the U.S.

“We are both proud and excited to support student leadership within the Undergraduate Honor System,” said James Orr, assistant provost for academic strategy and policy at Virginia Tech. “Our Honor Council delegates will develop the ability to conduct individual meetings in which difficult information is being communicated, while preserving strong relationships, as well as to cultivate a sense of self-awareness through identifying their personal vision and values.”

The Virginia Tech Honor Code has existed since 1907, making it one of the oldest honor codes at a land-grant research institution. Last year, the Honor Code underwent significant changes to make it consistent with 21st-century policies, promote fairness to students, and engage both students and faculty as partners in resolving cases of alleged academic misconduct.

The Honor Council delegates, who are student leaders within the Honor System, provided insights on how to conduct programming and outreach initiatives and how to facilitate administrative meetings. They shared information on the Academic Integrity Module, which provided students with a better understanding of the Honor Code; Understanding the Code sessions for both students and faculty, which provided interactive strategies for violation prevention; and on Virginia Tech’s first-ever Academic Integrity Week, scheduled for spring 2018.

“Having students serve in leadership roles is integral in the success of the Undergraduate Honor System,” Orr said. “Our Honor Council delegates will be able to go out and make a positive impact on society through their disciplinary depth and learned ability to utilize creativity and solve complex problems.”

The Undergraduate Honor System helps develop VT-shaped students by advancing the leadership skills of the students who lead the university in cultivating a culture of academic integrity. Participation as an Honor Council delegate goes beyond simply adjudicating cases of academic misconduct. The program is also designed to intentionally develop strong leaders who will be able to serve the campus community and society as individuals of integrity and honesty.

The Honor Council delegates also hold cross-disciplinary conversations with students and faculty members, take part in presentations that are given to over 11,000 members of the campus community each academic year, lead hearing panels, and advance their communication skills by clarifying difficult situations for students and faculty.

The new Honor Code embodies a spirit of mutual trust and intellectual honesty that is central to the very nature of the university and represents the highest expression of shared values among members of the campus community. Inter-collegiate collaborations like the one with William & Mary will allow for the continued growth of Virginia Tech’s Undergraduate Honor System as the institution works toward becoming a global model for academic integrity.

Written by Sarah Orren