Here are some helpful tips and information for students accused of an Honor Code violation. While the list is not exhaustive, it provides a good start. If there are any questions, please remember to contact the Honor System office for clarifications!
Below you will find information for the following:
- General Information
- Student Rights under the Honor Code
- Transcript Policy
- Appeal Procedures
If you receive a mailing from the Honor System Office containing a copy of the Honor System Constitution and a letter stating that you have committed an alleged violation, what should you do?
- First, don't panic. Take a moment and READ EVERYTHING that you have been sent. The Honor System Constitution is a valuable asset; you should take the time to read it.
- If you have questions, CONTACT THE HONOR SYSTEM. Also, your letter will contain the name of the Associate Justice who is assigned to your case; contact him or her. The Honor System is here to provide guidance.
- Submit a statement. This is your opportunity to provide your side of the situation to the Honor System. Your other option is to not submit a statement; this is within your student rights.
- Cooperate with your Associate Justice.
- Make sure that your local and permanent addresses are up to date in Hokie SPA
Please remember that if you choose to speak with the person who reported the alleged violation, it is their right to not discuss the charge and to instead refer you to the Honor System office. This is because the Honor System is designed to be the impartial mediator of these charges. Don't be offended if this occurs; just come to the Honor System office at New Hall West, Suite 141. We will be happy to assist you and answer your questions.
Student Rights under the Honor Code
If you are accused, the Honor System Constitution provides you with specific rights:
- To be considered innocent until proven guilty;
- To be advised and/or represented by any member of the university community who is chosen by the student and agrees to serve;
- To seek counsel with his or her representative, and to expect all such conversations to be held in confidence;
- To speak on his or her own behalf;
- To refrain from speaking against him or herself
- To receive written notice of charges of Honor System violations;
- To receive, at least 48 hours prior to the Judicial Panel, a copy of all evidence in the possession of the Honor System -- this is in the form of the Investigative Report. All evidence is availabe for review by the student;
- To question any witnesses who testify at the Judicial Panel;
- To be present at the Judicial Panel;
- To have the Judicial Panel decision based solely on the evidence presented at the Judicial Panel hearing;
- To receive a written notification of the decision of the Judicial Panel with respect to verdict; and,
- To appeal the verdict of the Judicial Panel before the Honor System Review Board as specified in the Constitution (see Appeal Procedures for additional information on the appeal process).
Procedure upon Referral
- Upon referral to the Honor System, a hold will be placed on a student's diploma until such time as all action by the Honor System has been completed. In addition, as of the date of referral, the Registrar will begin to monitor the student's request for delivery of official copies of the transcript to third parties.
- The student may not drop the course in which an alleged Honor Code violation has occurred.
- No other notation will appear on a student's transcript at this time.
Procedure if Student is Found "Not Guilty"
- If a student is found "not guilty" of the alleged Honor Code violation, the hold on the student's diploma will be removed as soon as practicable and the student will be allowed to drop the relevant course should the student so desire.
Procedure is Student is Found "Guilty"
- If a student is found "guilty" of an Honor Code violation, the following procedures will be followed:
- The Honor System will notify the student, the professor of the course in which the violation occurred, the Registrar, and the student's college, of the sanctions imposed on the student by the Provost.
- The professor of the course in which the violation occurred will be notified of any recommended graded change. At the discretion of the professor, the paper work for the grade change will be processed by the professor. The transcript will reflect any grade change; however, the transcript will not reflect the reason for the grade change.
- If the student is required to comply with a specified number of university service hours, the Registrar will place a hold on the transcript with the following notation: "Hold pending compliance with Honor System sanctions." Once the service hours have been completed, the Honor System will instruct the Registrar to remove both transcript and diploma holds on the student's account. No other notation will remain on the student's record regarding the Honor System violation.
- If the Provost, upon recommendation of the Honor System Review Board, imposes an F* in the course in which the Honor System violation occurred, the Registrar will proceed to make the applicable grade changes well as a permanent notation on the transcript stating that the grade was changed due to an Honor System violation.
- If a student is suspended for one or more terms from the university, the Registrar will place a permanent note on the student's transcript stating that the suspension was due to an Honor Code violation(s) and will take all steps necessary to prohibit a student from registering during the suspension term(s). The student's diploma hold will be released at the end of the suspended term(s).
- If a student is permanently dismissed from the university, the Registrar will place a permanent note on the student's transcript stating that the dismissal was due to an Honor System violation(s) and will take all steps necessary in order to forbid the student from registering or graduating from Virginia Tech.
Students who are found guilty of an Honor Code violation have the right to appeal their verdict to the Honor System Review Board. Students may appeal on three grounds:
- Violation of student's rights by the Honor System;
- Arbitrary or capricious treatment by the Honor System;
- New Evidence not available at the time of the panel
While not required, it is suggested that a student wishing to file an appeal meet with their Associate Justice so as to be able to receive as much assistance as necessary in the preparation of the appeal paperwork.
While the Honor System strives to uphold student's rights and avoid arbitrary or capricious treatment, these situations can occur. However they occur RARELY. The Honor System will seek to remedy any student's rights issues/arbitrary or capricious treatment without the need of an appeal. If an appeal is heard and evidence supports either of these claims, the Honor System Review Board will act accordingly.
A student's best avenue for a successful appeal generally rests on new evidence. New Evidence is evidence that was not available at the time of panel. This means that the evidence would have to have been discovered after the panel date. Evidence that was in existence at the time of the panel and not addressed by the student DOES NOT constitute grounds for a successful appeal! This is why the Honor System encourages frequent contact with the Associate Justices so that all evidence in the student's behalf can be presented at the panel.
If the appeal is granted, one of several outcomes may occur:
- Denial (Appeal is denied; original sanction enforced)
- Overturn (case is dismissed)
- Re-Panel (case is re-scheduled with a new group of panel members)
- Re-investigation (AJ obtains additional evidence to answer questions posed by Review Board. Once done, the appeal is finalized into one of the above outcomes).
As always, if there is any question as to the process or procedures involved, students are encouraged to contact their Associate Justices or Office Staff as soon as practical.