For over 165 years, the Honor System has been one of the cornerstones of this University. It allows us to send one clear, unmistakable message: lying, cheating, and stealing are not tolerated at the University of Virginia. This message helps set our University apart.

Over the last couple of decades, however, the Honor System has suffered from the slow erosion of this message. More and more, students and faculty ignore the Honor System and ignore acts that compromise the Community of Trust. Students found guilty of lying, cheating, or stealing can escape without punishment for offenses deemed “trivial.” Other students that come forward to their professors, or who make normal, honest mistakes are expelled from the University even when they are representing the integrity and honesty that the Community of Trust demands.

The Honor System is failing, and it has become painfully clear that only sanction reform can solve this problem. Reform will not weaken our Honor Code, nor render the Honor System irrelevant. Instead, reform will revitalize Honor and protect the cherished Community of Trust by tolerating no act of lying, cheating, or stealing.

You will hear many things in the coming weeks from our proposal’s opponents about what this reform will do. They will try to trap you into believing that the tradition of honor depends on the single sanction. But this proposal will not weaken our Honor System. This proposal will strengthen our Honor System, reinforce our Community of Trust, and ensure that honor will be brought back to the Honor System.

In the coming weeks, as you hear arguments about the importance of tradition at this University, just remember this: HONOR IS THE REAL TRADITION

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