Virginia Tech’s Undergraduate Honor System (UHS) has a long and distinguished history. The UHS has been in continuous operation and grown with the University since 1908, making it one of the oldest honor systems in the United States. Though it has transformed with the evolution of the University, it has always remained a student-led organization with faculty guidance and input.
At its inception, the UHS was a “Cadet Honor Court” with the motto “a cadet will not lie, cheat or steal, nor tolerate those who do.” These were the days well before the University was named Virginia Tech, but instead the Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College. Until 1936 the Cadet Honor Court handled all cases of academic misconduct, both for cadet and civilian students. It was at that point that civilian students chose to create their own UHS. This system is what we still have in place today, albeit with modifications over the years.
For decades, the University operated under a traditional honor code system. In the Fall 2016 semester, a fully updated honor code was implemented. This new code allows the UHS to operate under a modified honor code system. This traditional to modified transition was catalyzed in 2014 with the hiring of James Orr into the position of Assistant Provost & Director of the Undergraduate Honor System. It was created through extensive collaboration with faculty, students and staff. The new honor code is consistent with 21st century policies, promotes fairness to students and engages both students and faculty as partners in resolving cases of alleged academic misconduct. 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 possible expression of shared values among the members of the campus community. It allows the University to focus on moving from a punitive system to an educational one by creating teachable moments for students that are leveraged into transformative experiences.
The UHS aims to continue to educate both faculty and students on the importance of maintaining academic integrity, to continue the positive improvement of the system as a whole and to provide a standard of honor systems throughout the world.