Last semester, I took a research course on survey design. The course comprised of lectures, readings, a midterm, homework, etc., all the things you’d expect to find in a graduate-level class. But it also employed a project based learning approach to survey design. The class was broken into teams, and each team had a different project to work on. My team had an actual client outside of the course, the Honor Committee at UVA. They wanted us to conduct a survey on the reporting habits and perceptions of the Honor Code at the University. My team worked long and hard on the project, produced a report, and gave a presentation to the full Honor Committee last Sunday night. I felt as though the presentation went well.
Little did we know, there was a reporter there from the Cavalier Daily, Owen Robinson. Owen wrote this article about our presentation. Some (not all) of the major points in our presentation are that most students who observed an honor violation did not report the violation, and that students feel that there is disproportionate reporting based on demographics when there is no data to support that perception.
Two days later, Owen posted this article about the Honor Committee proposing changes to the Honor Code. In the article, it talks about how the proposed changes may eventually lead to the possibility (that sounds pretty weak) of a switch to a multiple-sanction policy. The Honor representatives in the article sort of brush aside our report saying that they were heading towards this proposal anyway, which I thought was a tad unnecessary of him to say, but that is his prerogative. What may have been more accurate for him to say was that our presentation did not make recommendations regarding single-sanctions opposed to multiple-sanctions. We said that students surveyed indicated that the consequence of committing an honor violation is a major deterrent for them to report someone who commits a violation. We also said that it would be interesting to compare our data with data collected at a school with a multiple-sanction policy.
Regardless of what this person thinks or what the people who are making comments on the webpage think, completing this work was a rewarding process. I enjoyed working with my team and we felt like we produced something valuable. It was also an added bonus having it reported in the paper. Hopefully some positive change will come about as a result of our work.
**As an aside, the Cavalier Daily website is not good. When I searched for “honor” to find the articles, Page 1 of more than 12 had 20 articles ranging from the years 2001 to 2014, in no discernible order. When I browse through “News” to “Honor Committee,” which is in the front page header, there are 5 featured stories from 2013, and then another 10 stories listed under “More Honor Committee” that are also from 2013.