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The Daily Tar Heel

Campus has been filled with talk of our Honor Code, with students and faculty alike voicing concerns and questions about the honor system. As members of the honor system, we welcome your questions and insights.

The student-led honor system is part of an important 100-year tradition of student self-governance, but we recognize that tradition alone cannot sustain an institution. We must remain true to our fundamental goal: to ensure, for all members of the University community, an environment where intellectual honesty and personal integrity are highly valued and individuals are safe, trusted, respected and fairly treated.

Student self-governance empowers us to set our own community standards and to hold ourselves accountable to them. We believe students, faculty and staff all benefit from a student-led honor system. Both accused students and community members who report potential Honor Code violations work with dedicated students to prepare an Honor Court case.

For every hearing, a panel is composed of capable, well-trained students with no prior knowledge of the offense, who may also seek the advice of professors or other members of the University community.

We firmly believe this process of peer accountability affords students the greatest degree of self-determination and the fairest outcome. It also frees faculty and administrators to focus their time and considerable talents on pursuing their passions, rather than on disciplining students.

Over the past several weeks, misinformation may have circulated about the honor system’s structure and process.

The honor system is comprised of the Honor Court, the Attorney General’s Staff and the Outreach Committee. It is separate from the Office of the Dean of Students, the Office of Student Conduct and the Emergency Evaluation and Action Committee.

Although the honor system is student-led, faculty and administrators do advise and oversee the process by assisting in training, interpreting the Instrument — the honor system’s governing document — and enforcing court sanctions.

When a potential Honor Code violation is reported, the Student Attorney General reviews the complaint to determine if there is a reasonable basis to charge a student with a violation. A five-member Honor Court panel must then determine beyond a reasonable doubt that a violation occurred before assigning sanctions.

Possible sanctions for all violations — all the way from misusing classroom clickers to repeated cheating — range from a warning to expulsion. However, expulsion is rarely assigned and must be approved by the chancellor.

After an Honor Court hearing, a student can appeal the decision to a review panel of students, faculty and staff.

We recognize significant areas for improvement within the honor system, and we have been working diligently with faculty and administrators over the past several years to address those concerns. We also seek outside input, as well as your continued support for student self-governance. For more information visit”“: To share comments or concerns, please email

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