The Honor System

The Honor System is one of Washington and Lee University's most important traditions and traces its roots to the mid-1840s at Washington College (W&L's name from 1813-1870).

In 1865, Robert E. Lee, the president of Washington College, took deliberate steps to relax faculty supervision of students' actions. In 1905, the student body assumed direct control of the Honor System by forming the Executive Committee of the Student Body, manifesting Lee's vision of student accountability. This uncommon assignment of trust is the hallmark of Washington and Lee's Honor System, and it calls each generation of students to vigilant custodianship.

Each new generation of students defines the Honor System by its actions and the behavior it deems dishonorable. At Washington and Lee, dishonorable conduct is not codified; rather, the Honor System is based upon the principle that any action deemed a breach of the community's trust will be considered an Honor Violation. Any action rising to the level of a breach of the community's trust weakens the bonds that unite the University community and jeopardizes the privileges the Honor System affords to students at Washington and Lee; no such breach is small enough to be ignored. For this reason, there is a single sanction for those who, in the eyes of the student body, commit an Honor Violation: immediate dismissal from the University.

Students at Washington and Lee recognize the great authority they possess and the communal presumption to behave honorably. This profound responsibility is not ordinarily placed upon college students. Students are expected to abide by the Honor System by representing themselves truthfully and seeking no unfair advantage over their peers. This understanding instills a profound sense of trust among all within the University community and enriches every aspect of student life.

The White Book

The governing document for all honor system procedure and philosophy.

The Hearing Advisor Program

Hearing Advisors assist students accused of an honor or conduct violation in preparing and presenting their cases to the Executive Committee, Student-Faculty Hearing Board, or the Student Judicial Council. They also provide information to accused individuals about additional on-campus resources, which accused students may wish to contact.

Honor Postings

Public notices about past cases and monthly statistics


Read the plagiarism definition and find other helpful resources

White Book Review Committee

Every three years, the Executive Committee appoints a White Book Review Committee to evaluate the state of the Honor System at Washington and Lee and review the Honor System White Book--the document describing Honor System Procedure.

Statement on Sexual Discrimination and Misconduct

The Executive Committee of the Student Body condemns sexual misconduct. In recognition of the sensitive nature of sexual misconduct cases and upon the request of the Executive Committee, the Board of Trustees created the Student Faculty Hearing Board (SFHB) in 1992 as a specially trained forum with specifically designed procedures to adjudicate such matters.