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Honor FAQs for Parents

What is the Honor Code?

The Honor Code is our behavioral expectations regarding students' ethical behavior both inside and outside of the College. The Honor Code is an affirmation that students will not lie, cheat or steal. For more information, please refer to the Honor Code.

How will I know if my student has been referred for an Honor violation?

We encourage, but do not require, students to inform their parents of any incidents, as we believe parents can be effective allies in helping their children learn from their behavior and develop into fully-mature adults. The College's practice is to treat its students as adults, and as such, we allow the student to decide if and how to inform his or her parents. Students may elect to sign a Release of Information form to indicate that they wish for their parents to be notified of the final results of any Honor Code matter; if the student has chosen to release this information to parents, we will send a letter home to let you know about a particular incident and its resolution.

How can I help my student avoid an Honor violation?

Speak with your son or daughter about the challenges ahead. Honor is a cherished concept at William and Mary, and violations have serious consequences; suspension as a typical sanction. The Honor Code is present to establish a "level playing field" so that all students are judged by the merits of their efforts and ability. The College is an academically-rigorous institution, and your son or daughter is like to be faced with the challenge of a heavy workload. Explore with your son or daughter how he or she plans to address this challenge proactively and the resources available should he or she encounter difficulty. It is always better to submit a work, even one that is incomplete, that represents an honest effort than to succumb to the temptation to cheat and suffer the consequences.

The Dean of Students Office offers academic support programs on study skills, time management, and other skills to assist students. In addition, should your child encounter personal difficulty, encourage him or her to contact the Dean of Students Office to request an appointment with a Dean.

What is my role in the Honor process? How can I help my student?

You can help your son or daughter by learning about the Honor process, procedures, and goals. As our process is developmental in nature, we believe it important for the student to take responsibility for the process and attend required meetings and fulfill sanction requirements, if any. By assuming responsibility for the process, the student is encouraged to develop a sense of confidence and competence in managing his or her affairs in the future. It usually is not helpful to the educational development of the student if the parent attempts to overtake the process on his or her behalf.

Can I be present during the Honor meetings and/or hearing?

The first step of the Honor process is a meeting with the student assigned to investigate the report. This initial meeting involves only the student and the investigating committee. If the matter progresses to a hearing, the student is permitted to bring one silent observer to the hearing--the student may elect to have a parent observe the hearing.

What happens if my son or daughter is found to have violated the Honor Code?

If your son or daughter is found guilty of a violation, he or she will receive one or more sanctions. Because Honor violations are considered serious breaches of conduct, the typical outcome involves a suspension of at least one semester. In addition, if the violation is an academic violation, the Council will recommend either a failing grade on the assignment or in the course. The Council may also issue secondary sanctions. For more information, please read the Student Handbook's section on the Honor Code.

Does my son or daughter need a lawyer?

The Honor Code reflects the unique values of the William and Mary community. Because of this, our process is separate and distinct from the criminal or civil court systems. While a student may, on his or her own, seek the assistance of an attorney, attorneys are not permitted to take an active role in the Honor process. Students are provided with the right to student counsel, and in the case of an allegation of serious misconduct, the student may request an administrative counsel to assist him or her.

Are disciplinary decisions appealable?

The student may request an appeal of a decision based on grounds specified in the Handbook. Appeals must be received by the appropriate party within five business days of the date the student received written notice of the outcome of his or her case.

With whom may I speak if I have additional questions?

Please feel free to contact the Dean of Students Office.