The Informed Retraction

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 agreeing upon amends that will be presented to a Panel for Sanction, consisting of Honor Committee representatives. 

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 submit an IR agrees, among other things, to admit their wrongdoings to all affected third parties, and to agree upon amends and corrections for their wrongdoing. These proposed amends are presented to the Panel for Sanction, which may impose sanctions in addition to the amends if necessary. The goal of sanctioning is to repair and recommit the Community of Trust. Because a student who submits an IR agrees, implicitly, to recommit themself 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 their time at the University, including both Undergraduate and Graduate enrollment.

If you have any questions at all about the IR, please contact your Honor Representative, or the Chair of the Committee at [email protected]. You can also find more details regarding the IR in the Bylaws here.

Informed Retraction FAQ

If you have additional questions about the IR, please contact the Honor Committee Vice Chair for Investigations or the Honor offices at 434-924-7438. 

What's the history of the IR?

This important mechanism 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 Bylaw changes to effectuate the Constitutional amendment, and these Bylaws 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 they have been reported for, plus any other unreported offenses that the reported student wishes to admit voluntarily.  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.

Following the 2023 Multi-Sanction referendum, the Informed Retraction was transformed. Rather than a singular sanction of a voluntary two-semester suspension following the acceptance of a filed IR, a submitting student will be subject to sanctions that reflect the student's commitment to honor. While the Panel for Sanction may administer the sanction of suspension if deemed appropriate, permanent sanctions are removed from the spectrum of impossible sanctions as a credit to the student's accountability. 

What is the difference between a conscientious retraction and an IR?

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, they then have the option to file an IR. Similar to the CR, students must make amends for their actions when filing an IR. 

What do I have to do to file an IR? (Flowchart)

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 Bylaws of the Honor Committee.

Displayed is a flowchart of the IR filing process.
Will I know what I have been reported for when I file an IR?

Yes. The Honor Committee will provide all information in its possession regarding the report with the "IR Letter", which is the letter that outlines the option of filing an IR and begins the filing period. Your Honor Advisor will provide you with this information so you may 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 multiple Honor Offenses at once. Can I file an IR?

Yes. A student may file a single IR to cover any and all reported offenses and any other unreported offenses that the student wishes to admit voluntarily at that time.  The student must make amends for each admitted Honor Offense and may still only file one IR during their time at the University.

Can I still file an IR if I’m about to graduate?

Yes. Degree candidates/recipients are eligible to file an IR.

If I request a CHI Hearing, how does that affect my ability to file an IR?

Students who request a Contributory Health Impairment (CHI) Hearing during their IR period (the seven-day period in which they are eligible to file an IR) are eligible to file an IR with their request for a CHI Hearing. If the CHI Hearing request is denied, the case will proceed to a Panel for Sanction.