What is the Informed Retraction?
An Informed Retraction (an “IR”) allows a student who has been reported to the Honor Committee for an alleged Act of Lying, Cheating, or Stealing to take responsibility for the commission of the Honor Offense in question, and also to make amends for such Honor Offense, both by admitting such Offense to all affected parties and by taking a full two-semester Honor Leave of Absence from the University community.
Philosophically, the IR is an extension of the existing Conscientious Retraction (the “CR”), which allows students who have committed a potential Honor Offense to come forward before they have reason to believe that the Offense in question has come under suspicion by anyone. One of the ways in which an IR differs from a CR is that an IR is filed after a student has been informed about the report of an alleged Honor Offense.
A student electing to file a request for an IR agrees, among other things, to admit his or her wrongdoing to all affected third parties, and to make amends for this wrongdoing. He or she also agrees to take a two-full-semester leave of absence from the University before returning and recommitting to the Community of Trust (“full semesters” are defined as a consecutive Fall & Spring semester; Summer and January Term courses are not considered full semesters). Because a student who submits an IR agrees, implicitly, to recommit him- or herself to the Community of Trust and, accordingly, to not commit another Act of Lying, Cheating, or Stealing following submission of the request for IR, each student shall have the opportunity to have only one IR accepted during the entirety of his or her time at the University, including both Undergraduate and Graduate enrollment.
This important change to the Honor System was made in the form of an amendment to the Honor Constitution. The amendment, which students placed on the ballot by collecting petition signatures in a grass-roots display of student self-governance, was approved by 64% of the students who voted in the 2013 Spring elections. The 2012-2013 Honor Committee immediately passed By-law changes to effectuate the Constitutional amendment, and these By-laws and procedures continue to evolve.
On April 10, 2018, an updated Informed Retraction policy went into effect which greatly expanded its scope. In the past, students were allowed to take an Informed Retraction for one single Honor Offense (or a series of "significantly similar" or "logically dependent" offenses, such as cheating on an exam and then lying on that same exam, or using the same unauthorized resource on multiple homework assignments in the same course, etc.).
Now, a student may take an Informed Retraction for any number of offenses that he or she has been reported for, plus any other unreported offenses which the reported student wishes to voluntarily admit. As was the case in the past, the student must make amends with any affected parties with respect to any and all offenses that the student wishes to be covered by the Informed Retraction.
Under the new By-Laws, every UVA student is still limited to one Informed Retraction during his or her time at the University; if he or she is reported for an Honor offense in the future (that was not covered in the original Informed Retraction), the case will be adjudicated appropriately.
If you have any questions at all about this new, expanded conception of the Informed Retraction, please contact your Honor Representative, or Evan Pivonka, the Special Assistant to the Honor Committee.
You can read the updated By-Laws here.
How does the Informed Retraction Work?
Once a student has been reported for an Honor Offense, and the reporting (or primary) witness has been interviewed and provided the critical information about the incident in question, an Honor Advisor will meet with the reported student and provide him or her with a packet outlining the alleged Honor Offense, and the possible steps moving forward. The reported student receives, as part of this packet, a Notice Letter and an Informed Retraction (IR) Form. He or she then has 7 days to decide whether or not to file an Informed Retraction, during which time the Investigation is paused.
The Notice Letter is the letter, addressed to the student, which (a) sets forth a general description of the Act which is the subject of an Honor Report, (b) includes the IR Information, which shall be provided as an attachment to the Notice Letter, (c) describes, in general, the investigation and trial procedures of the Honor Committee, and (d) outlines the opportunity and conditions for submitting an IR. The IR Information is a copy of the initial interview with the Reporter or other primary witness, together with any other relevant documentation in the possession of the Honor Committee at the time the Notice Letter is delivered. The IR Form is official form that must be completed by a student wishing to submit an Informed Retraction; the completed IR Form must be submitted by the student to the Vice Chair for Investigations within the IR Period.
A student electing to file an Informed Retraction agrees, upon filing, to admit the wrongdoing to all affected third parties, and make amends for said wrongdoing. He or she also agrees to take a Leave of Absence from the University, beginning at the conclusion of the semester in which the IR is filed, and lasting for the duration of two full academic semesters. The Leave of Absence may not be interrupted by any period of re-enrollment. All questions of grading, course requirements and course credit shall remain exclusively at the discretion of the applicable professor, school, or department. Administration of the Leave of Absence and re-enrollment (including all questions of registration status, scholarship status, athletic eligibility, and visa status) shall be in accordance with the guidelines of the applicable authority and shall model an academic suspension.
Degree Candidates and University Graduates can also file Informed Retractions, and have slightly different procedures for fulfilling the Honor Leave of Absence. Degree Candidates will have their degrees held for a period of one year, and University Graduates will agree to surrender their degrees for a period of one year.
A student can file one and only one Informed Retraction during his or her time at the University.
View a copy of the IR Form (provided by a reported student’s Honor Advisor).
Informed Retraction FAQ
What is the difference between a conscientious retraction and an informed retraction?
A Conscientious Retraction (CR) allows students who have committed a potential Honor Offense to come forward and admit to the act and make amends, thereby recommitting themselves to the Community of Trust; students may submit a CR at any time, so long as they do not have any reason to believe that they are under suspicion of having committed an Honor Offense. If a student has already been reported for committing an Honor Offense, he then has the option to file an Informed Retraction (IR). Similar to the CR, a student must make amends for his actions when filing an IR, but must also agree to take a two-semester Leave of Absence from the University.
What do I have to do to file an Informed Retraction?
If you are reported for committing an Honor Offense, you will be assigned an Honor Advisor, who will notify you of the report and provide you with all options available to you, including the Informed Retraction. If you choose to file an IR, the conditions and procedures for the filing of a valid IR are set forth, in detail, in Article III of the By-laws of the Honor Committee.
Will I know what I have been reported for when I file an Informed Retraction?
Yes. The Honor Committee conducts an initial interview with the Reporter of a case (and gathers relevant evidence they may have at that time) prior to notifying a student that they have been reported for an Honor Offense. When you are notified, you will be provided with this interview and evidence in order to make a well-informed decision about whether to pursue an Informed Retraction, Honor Investigation, or other option available to you.
I’ve been reported for more than one Honor Offense. Can I file an Informed Retraction?
Yes. As of April 10, 2018, a student may file a single Informed Retraction to cover any and all reported offenses, as well as any other unreported offenses that the student wishes to voluntarily admit. The student still must make amends for each admitted Honor Offense, and may still only file one Informed Retraction during his or her time at the University.
Can I still file an Informed Retraction if I’m about to graduate?
Yes. Degree candidates are eligible to file an IR in their final semester. If a student chooses to file an IR during the semester in which he is academically eligible to graduate, he may complete the courses that he is already enrolled in during that semester, but his degree is held for two full academic semesters during the Honor Leave of Absence. At the conclusion of the Leave of Absence, he must then apply for “Degree Conferral in Absentia” and will receive a degree in the semester that he completes the Leave of Absence (i.e., if a student were to file an IR in the Spring of 2016, he would receive a Spring 2017 degree at the conclusion of his Leave of Absence).
What notation is on my transcript if I file an Informed Retraction?
As soon as an Informed Retraction is deemed complete by the Vice Chair for Investigations, the University Registrar is notified and the notation “Honor Probation” is placed on that student’s transcript. At the beginning of the Leave of Absence (the first day of classes in the next full Fall or Spring semester), the notation is replaced with “Honor Leave of Absence” and that notation remains on the student’s transcript until the final day of classes in the final semester of the Leave of Absence, when all notations are removed. There are no notations after the conclusion of the Leave of Absence.
Can I take classes at another school during my leave of absence?
The Honor Committee does not prohibit students from enrolling in credit-bearing courses at other institutions during the Leave of Absence. However, each school of enrollment has differing policies about whether those credits may be transferred to a student’s UVa transcript upon return. Students should contact the registrar in their school of enrollment to inquire about the transfer of credits earned during the Leave of Absence.
What happens if I file an Informed Retraction in the middle of the semester?
Students may complete the courses that they are enrolled in during the semester in which they file an Informed Retraction without any academic penalty (except any penalties imposed as part of making Amends for the Act), regardless of the point at which an IR is filed.
Will I still have access to my University of Virginia email during my Honor Leave of Absence?
Am I still allowed to use UVA services and resources during my Honor Leave of Absence?
Students who are currently completing their Leave of Absence are not prohibited by the Honor Committee from partaking in any specific activities (other than courses). However, students currently completing their Leave of Absence are ineligible for University services that are only available to currently-enrolled students (such as University Career Center services).
What do I have to do to return to UVA after my Honor Leave of Absence?
The Honor Committee will automatically remove the registration block prior to the end of a Leave of Absence, so that the student may enroll in courses for the coming semester after they have completed their Leave of Absence. The Honor Committee will also automatically remove all transcript notations at the conclusion of the Leave of Absence.
Additionally, students returning from the Leave of Absence should contact the registrar in their school of enrollment to inquire about other school requirements for return. For example, students in the College of Arts and Sciences must complete and submit an Application for Readmission in order to fully re-activate and register for courses; this form may take up to 10 work days to process. All questions about school-specific requirements should be directed to the Registrar in that school.
I am an international student. How will be Informed Retraction & Honor Leave of Absence affect my visa status?
At the beginning of the Leave of Absence, a student is no longer enrolled in courses at the University of Virginia and is thus not eligible for an I20 Visa through the University. International students must meet with the International Studies Office as part of their submission of the IR form, in order to ensure that they receive important information regarding their visa status and other implications specific to international students. All questions about visa status should be directed to ISO.
How will the leave of absence affect my financial aid? How will it affect my scholarship(s)?
As a general rule, students will not be penalized for taking a Leave of Absence regarding their financial aid; however, students are not eligible to receive financial aid during the Leave of Absence. Specific questions about the disbursement of financial aid during or after the Leave of Absence should be directed to Student Financial Services.
Additionally, any questions about how a Leave of Absence might affect non-University scholarship awards should be directed to the administrator of those awards, as eligibility may vary by scholarship.
I live on Grounds. How will the Informed Retraction affect my housing contract?
Students are not charged for Housing while not enrolled at the University. Specifically, if a student chooses to file an Informed Retraction in the Fall semester and begin the Leave of Absence during the following Spring semester, he will not be penalized and will be released from his Housing contract for the Spring semester. If you have specific questions about your housing contract or how the Leave of Absence will affect your University Housing arrangements, you should contact Housing & Residence Life.
If I request a CMD Hearing, how does that affect my ability to file an Informed Retraction?
Students who request a Contributory Mental/Medical Disorder (CMD) Hearing during their IR period (the seven-day period in which they are eligible to file an IR) are eligible to file an IR if their request for a CMD Hearing is denied. Students have the remainder of their IR period to request an IR upon return from the CMD process.
If you have additional questions about the Informed Retraction, please contact the Honor Committee Vice Chair for Investigations or Special Assistant to the Honor Committee Evan Pivonka at firstname.lastname@example.org or 434-924-7438. Any student who wishes to or is considering filing an Informed Retraction should discuss the IR in detail with their Honor Advisor.