Arrested UVA athlete back on field

brownMichael Brown, the first-year varsity football player who was arrested last Thursday was back on the practice field Saturday, according the Daily Progress. A UVA student Judiciary Committee convicted Brown of trespassing, the DP reports, but dismissed the other charges against him. Of course, Brown still faces the real world felony charges against him, but it appears he’s again in good standing with the University. Apparently, trespassing and getting yourself arrested, not to mention facing a possible assault charge, are not violations of UVA’s 160-year-old honor code. Last year, the UVA Honor Committee found 10 students guilty of honor code violations. If found guilty of such crimes as stealing a text book, plagiarizing an essay, having a text book open during a closed book exam, or simply lying about something students are automatically expelled.

11 comments

"Apparently, trespassing and getting yourself arrested, not to mention facing a possible assault charge, are not violations of UVA's 160-year-old honor code."

Either the author of this blurb is new to the UVA Community, or learned fact-checking from cvillenews.com--the University's honor system, that being 160 yeards old and carrying the single sanction of expulsion from UVA, only covers dishonorable acts of lying, cheating, and stealing. Violating any local, state, or federal laws can be violations of the University Judiciary Committee's Standards of Conduct. A student can receive a variety of penalties for such violations--from community service through to expulsion.

What facts did the author get wrong? He or she is saying that those things are not in the honor code. I believe its just trying to make a point...that students have been expelled for seemingly lesser crimes than Brown.

Honor shouldn't have been mentioned at all, because what Brown is accused of has absolutely nothing to do with the honor system. The tone of the entry seemed surprised that this was not an honor offense, and it should not have been.

So do you think it's fair that students get expelled for cheating on a test, but not for criminal offenses at fraternity houses? What if Brown is convicted of assault? Should he still be allowed to remain in school?

Absolutely, I think it's fair. A university is an institution of higher education. It is not a government, it is not a society at large (although it falls within one), its sole jobs are to educate and to research. As such, the biggest violation to an institution with such goals is academic fraud--to undermine education and research. Assault, a violation to society at large rather than the university, is better dealt with by the courts, which is exactly what is happening. If Brown is convicted of a crime, punishment could be warranted if he is likely to come into contact with the alleged victims while at university.

The key is--he hasn't been convicted of assault. You can get expelled from UVA for assault, if the UJC so orders. It's just not automatic, like an honor offense.

DblHoo Wrote:
Honor shouldn't have been mentioned at all, because what Brown is accused of has absolutely nothing to do with the honor system.

But it has a lot to do with actual "honor." It may be just semantics, but if you are going to call something an "honor code" or "honor system", it ought to mean something more than just "don't cheat on a test" or "don't break our club rules". I think most people believe the term "honor" to extends beyond UVA's narrow academic interpretation to things like criminal offences.

That may be why there is some confusion regarding this topic.

Bill wrote:
But it has a lot to do with actual ââ?¬Å?honor.” It may be just semantics, but if you are going to call something an ââ?¬Å?honor code” or ââ?¬Å?honor system”, it ought to mean something more than just ââ?¬Å?don't cheat on a test” or ââ?¬Å?don't break our club rules”. I think most people believe the term ââ?¬Å?honor” to extends beyond UVA's narrow academic interpretation to things like criminal offences.

Amen to what Bill said.

If the purpose of having an 'honor code' is to teach (or emphasize) the value of ethical behavior - having that honor code *not* apply to criminal offenses is absurd and negates any value an 'honor code' may have had. Additionally it creates a double standard where the greater of the two offenses (criminal behavior) carries the lesser punishment.

Shame on UVA for that.

Punching someone is not a greater moral offense than wholesale academic fraud. Our honor system is designed to work in tandem with an additional mechanism for punishing behavior we deem to be against our university--the University Judiciary Committee. Cheating on a test and getting a DUI are fundamentally different offenses--one strikes at the very nature of an institution of education and one violates society's norms of conduct. It is appropriate that they be separate.

The honor system is not designed to enforce society's moral or ethical norms on students--it is merely to protect our community of trust from acts that would undermine it. Would you be satisfied if the entire thing was under one roof, but with lying, cheating and stealing entailing a single sanction of expulsion while other offenses not? You seem to have a problem with fighting not falling under the jurisdiction of the honor code--but you ignore UJC. My hypothetical would be functionally equivalent to the current system.

If anything, UVA's honor system and Judiciary Committee are substantially more strict than other state universities. At Virginia Tech, for instance, you can cheat your way up and down the halls of the Computer Science department and be sentenced to mere community service. I'd take our "bicameral" system any day of the week over that.

....how does a student 'violating society's norms of conduct' not "strike at the very nature of the institution?" While you've obviously thought this out, you seem to be missing the point. Getting suspended for cheating but getting off scot-free for tresspassing, starting a brawl, and getting arrested does not seem fair. Justify it all you want, but that's the bottom line. That's what people are responding to. Conduct is conduct, whether its on or off the feild, or in or out of the classroom, and that "stikes" at the university. As you point out, the honor system and the UJC have different standards. Maybe thats the problem.

....or, dare I say, maybe varsity football players get cut a little more slack.

First, Brown claimed in a Cavalier Daily article that he was acquitted in the UJC of any violations. Second, he only gets off scot-free after a full trial under UJC--violating any law is an automatic violation of the standards of conduct. I'm talking about why it's appropriate that Honor and Judic be separate--not advocating letting assault perps get off the hook.

You could argue that varsity football players get cut more slack, but also consider that this entire debate is solely because he is an athlete, and therefore newsworthy. Nobody would even bother to criticize the system like the original blog poster if he were some random first-year.