00:00 Rachel Boag: Alright, so this- we’re interviewing Stephen Nash… if you’d spell your name?
00:06 Stephen Nash: S-T-E-P-H-E-N N-A-S-H.
00:10 R: Okay. I’m Rachel Boag, R-A-C-H-E-L B-O-A-G, and with me is Annie Gladchuk.
00:17 Annie Gladchuk: A-N-N-I-E G-L-A-D-C-H-U-K.
00:21 R: Okay. We’re in Clemons Library 104, it’s November second, 2012, and it’s 11:31 [AM]. Alright so we’re just- we’re interested in your perspective on the resignation and reinstatement of President Sullivan this summer. Just to start out- what was your initial reaction to finding out about the resignation?
00:43 S: I think like all students when I initially got the email on Sunday morning I was- surprised, I wasn’t completely satisfied with the explanation, but just sort of generally surprised. I didn’t really have a historical perspective on whether something like this was rare, or common practice, or sort of what was going on. So I think with everybody, I think everybody was texting everybody else, or using what other forms of social media to try and figure out exactly what was going on, but I think my initial reaction was similar to – I would assume the majority of students, of just a- Sunday morning surprise, I would say.
1:21 R: Did you- look at media articles, was that a major source for what you were looking at, did that affect your perspective?
1:27 S: I don’t remember- I think initially it was just sort of- I read the email, and knew obviously something significant must be going on, and then you start wondering what could that be, or what is going on? I never interacted with President Sullivan personally before that point, so I didn’t really necessarily--- it wasn’t as if it were an administrator which I personally knew, but obviously she’s the leader of the University and it was a surprise that her resignation was happening so quickly- I think, you know, people… we didn’t know if she would be here thirty years, you know, like President Casteen, but two years certainly seemed like a very short period of time for someone to be resigning.
2:11 R: Okay. So between the resignation and reinstatement, what were you thinking? How was that…?
2:17 S: So I guess- do you want to just- me to walk through I guess every day, sort of my involvement with everything… So I was- I had an internship in New York at the time, the following Monday – I don’t know if it was email, but… I spoke with Vice President Lampkin, had sort of a conference call for, for some student leaders. If I remember correctly, I was on the call, the Vice Chairs for Honor, which were in Charlottesville, went and met with her, I think Emily Forester, the chair of the University Judiciary Committee, Johnny Vroom, the President of Student Council, and just sort of- it was a conversation just for us to try and get a sense of what was happening, a general sense of, you know, shock, and us to also to process and work through exactly what was happening.
I then remember in the beginning of that week, I think each day- it’s amazing, it was only eighteen days, but I feel like it lasted a long time because I think a lot of things kept building each and every day. In the beginning of the week I felt like it was the prudent move to send an email to my committee, to support officers, because there was, I think, a general feeling of unrest amongst students basically saying “This is certainly a surprise, but what we’re focusing on this year goes on unchanged. The Committee’s our top priority- engagement, we have substantial efforts in place and we’re going to keep doing that”, sort of, very much a message of “carry on, craziness may be around us, but Honor and the Honor Committee and our function are gonna keep moving, as we do, and internally we’re strong and this is an external matter for the University to figure out.”
[3:52] And then it was Friday, so that was I think probably Wednesday I sent an email out, Tuesday or Wednesday, to the about hundred and thirty people who sort of I’m responsible for overseeing. And then Friday, I think it was late Thursday or Friday morning, I received an email from the Rector, or the assistant to the Rector, seeing if I’d be willing to meet to just sort of discuss the Board of Visitors in general and help disseminate information on certain things. And it was going to be… the other people sort of CC’d or, or on the email was myself, Hillary Hurd, obviously, the student member of the Board of Visitors, Rector Dragas, Johnny Vroom, the president of Student Council and Sid… I always forget his last name, but he was on Student Council last year [EDIT:This is probably Siddhartha (Sid) Pailla, who was/is on the Entrepreneurship and Innovations committee]. And I of course absolutely agreed to meet and thought that I had an obligation to students, being their representative, to come down from New York and come to Charlottesville and have the meeting in person. So I drove down Friday evening, and at this point I think the confusion sort of, sort of [???] into sort of, anger, and just sort of more unsettling confusion. (5:00) At this, at this first week there were a lot of conspiracies about what was going on- did Goldman try and buy the University, was this a Darden coup, all these sort of thoughts were sort of out there , and I don’t think I necessarily believed any particular one but, sort of, it went from just sort of a state of shock to troubling confusion, I would say, by the end of the week.
I drove down to Charlottesville Friday night, into Saturday morning, and I met with the Rector first thing Saturday morning. I tried before the meeting to get my bearings a little bit, and could just immediately get a sense, being in Charlottesville, it was at a different magnitude, I think what was being felt, and what was being experienced. You got a very visceral sense of what was happening, it was a campus truly unse – er, Grounds (laugh) - truly unsettled by what was going on- and what struck me, slightly, and then even more afterwards, going to that meeting, people kept talking about … “This doesn’t seem right, this is against, somehow, our values, we have a community of trust, what’s going on here?” So they weren’t always explicitly invoking Honor, but there was a lot of implicit conversation that our communal values were, were not being followed through in the same sense that we expected them to be. And this was also- on Thursday Student Council released their statement, which I, I spoke with Johnny Vroom, sort of throughout the course of the week as well, but at this point going to the meeting my stance, internally, was “This is an external matter, we’re going to leave it externally, and we’ll, we’ll be f- carry on internally.” I met with the Rector- is this okay? This long winded-
6:35 R: Definitely, this is exactly what we’re looking for.
6:37: S: So I met with the Rector Saturday morning, with those three other students, and we had about an hour and a half to two hour conversation, from what I can remember, about sort of everything that had happened. I felt an obligation as a student representative to be as frank as I possibly could, and, and, to make it as productive and constructive of a conversation as I possibly could, I thought. I obviously wasn’t- did not want to rude, or you know, in a way sort of, unprofessional, but I thought it was important to let the viewpoint of, sort of, deep concern be made very clear during that meeting and I did my best to do so. And I sort of tried to express what I saw at the time as two separate but obviously liked issues of one, there was one conversation about whether or not the resig- the forced resignation, was merited: “Do you agree on the basis, sort of, on the merits of the decision, was that the right move?” And I think at that point it was somewhat… split, or probably I would say sixty-five percent against but there was a contingent of people who also agreed with the Board of Visitors and the Board obviously agreed at the time that their decision was grounded in, in necessary action. But there was another thing emerging, which I tried to express as best as I could’ve, where I think everybody was on the same page, that how- how it was handled, and how it’s being communicated, and how it’s being followed up on, is just something that nobody feels comfortable with… and that that was causing a tremendous sense of uneasiness and that you’re never going to be able to address the first problem unless you clear up the second one.
And so the values of honor, integrity, and trust go intertwined with that, and, and that is running deep and problematic – it was, I think - I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to sit down with Rector Dragas and put a face to some of those emails that we all got. And I think that was very helpful, but at the same point, like I said, I felt I had an obligation to be as completely honest and forthright, even if sometimes, um, that caused some tension in the conversation- to really express that y- you know when you’re in these situations you tend to – as in, you know, whether it’s, it’s with any sort of leaders, even sort of within Honor you get isolated and you hear, you know, from the people who are talking with you and I think it was important to express that there was deep concern, especially about the second issue, which was nearly universal, and I came out of that meeting thinking two things: that this was not necessarily going to get better immediately… that it was probably going to get worse, and that student representation and input is vital and necessary, and we needed to have a student voice in this, representing student sentiment in a, in a substantial way. And I’m not saying that wasn’t happening, but in my mind it was imperative that we had students at the table. And it was- it was just an absolutely essential thing to me leaving that meeting, that we were going to have full student representation, and not in the sense that students should be making governance decisions, because we shouldn’t, but that students’ voices were heard in this decision.
So Saturday afternoon I began contacting… so, sort of how the committee works, compared to what, sort of a president who’s directly elected by the students sort of to be their leader, and then in my interpretation things have… you know, discretion to handle things. I’m elected as a representative of the College of Arts and Sciences, so if you’re in the College you voted for your five Committee representatives, and then we go on a retreat and internally I’m selected to- within you know the Executive Committee. So my obligation is first, really, to the Committee, and then also obviously as well to the College of Arts and Sciences. So before I proceeded any further, especially because I told the Committee we were very much going to very much let this be an internal thing, I, I needed to obviously consult, really, everybody on the Committee. So I spoke with more people in Charlottesville, and the more and more people I spoke to the more I got the sense of sort of how this wasn’t relating to an act of lying, cheating or stealing, but was relating to a broader sense of honor and community of trust and this- like I said, the two issues at this time of “was this issue merited?” and “how were people feeling it was being handled?” and, and that was making people feel really uncomfortable. So I was able to talk to administrators, faculty and, and that helped me get my bearings and the thing I can’t emphasize enough also as well is just- the visceral sense you got being in Charlottesville was… the power of place, I think people… cannot, cannot be underestimated. You got one sense of it reading about it in the Cavalier Daily and the Washington Po- and all of that, and following it factually- you got a much different sense being in Charlottesville. So I started consulting sort of, with my Executive Committee, saying “I think we need to come out with a statement”. At the end of the meeting with the Rector I sort of hinted at, because it was, there was a suggestion about very much maybe a … reconciliatory... that’s probably not a word… but, you know, a sort of sense of sort of maybe- come out on a reconciliation page, and the more and more as that meeting progressed I,I was, I tried to make very clear if the Honor Committee’s going to proceed it’s not- it’s going to proceed in a way which is… criticizing sort of what’s happening, and that, that was the way I was gonna feel comfortable.
So I started speaking with the Committee about- I tried to call up as many members and spoke to probably the majority of the twenty-seven members by phone, and started drafting late Saturday night a statement for us. I then obviously told administrators that I wanted to release a statement. Obviously, a lot of… work went into sort of crafting the wording, and like I said I knew – I, I thought things were going to build before they … lessened down, so I wanted to be as deliberate and intentional with every word that we were using. I also knew that it was unprecedented for the Honor Committee to deal- to weigh in on issues like this, and, and it’s important to stay true to what I thought our role was, but I do think, like I say, coming from that meeting I felt it was imperative that students had strong representation in this matter and that they felt that their voices were not washed away- and I’m not saying that that was the case, that was happening, but I thought we had a distinct role in- in playing that part. So Sunday I spoke with sort of University officials and I, I thought it was important that the Honor Committee released a statement through… to the whole University community as well as, obviously, to media… agencies. And I did email the Rector and the Vice Rector a copy of the statement- we modified I think a sentence or two- but, a copy of the statement , because if we’re going to talk about transparency it’s important for us to give them warning- also, just how the Committee works, is the organization which we really answer to is the Board of Visitors, which kind of complicates the matter a little bit further because in many ways we’re writing a statement about, in essence, the one organization at the University which we are, we are truly, um, sort of directly answer to them.
So I sent them a copy of the statement before, and then about Sunday afternoon we released the statement, and like I said I was – that was a long and sort of exhaustive effort to try and speak what the Committee represented and explain my experience, ask them to trust me- a lot of, I was – I can’t thank the Committee enough for very much having the faith and, and trusting me and saying “You’re there, if you think this is the right course of action, we’ll be behind it”, and then going through those drafts and getting that statement out – a statement though which I, I was … I’m pretty proud of, and I think it spoke to sort of some of the issues that I think needed to be… addressed about sort of how this was handling and how this was making people feel and just all these conspiracies floating around and all of that was, was not in line with, with the values, or were perceived- I think the language was perceived as running counter to the values that we hold at the University.
[15:08] So that was Sunday afternoon- Sunday evening there was a Faculty Senate meeting, which was I think one of the many defining moments, and Provost Simon spoke at that meeting, and I remember being- particularly just sort of – I thought his remarks were truly… really just spot on, I thought it showed a tremendous amount of courage, and I think he spoke to necessary truths that were happening. And then from then on… and then Monday came the Board of Visitors’ meeting, and I was able to sit in the… Oval Room, whatever that’s called, sort of in the Rotunda during the open session parts of it, and hear Rector Dragas’ opening statement, and then immediately sort of the words “honor”, “integrity” and “trust” were thrown into it, and… here we go! So that happened in the open session, and then there was the huge rally outside, which was just remarkable, I thought, and then I sort of left, obviously, when they went into closed session- camped out, if you will, until they called us back in around 10:15, 10:30 - fifteen minutes to go- and I walked out with the Faculty Senate back into the Rotunda to wait for the fifteen minutes, which turned out to be four hours, until 2 AM, until which they finally had their decision to appoint Dean Zeithaml interim president. Do you still- this is fine? Okay…
16:40 A: (laugh)
16:41 R: This is great!
16:42 S: And at that point it was just a mixture of feelings. I have tremendous respect and admiration for Dean Zeithaml. I also did not feel satisfied in the Board’s explanation to clarify this second issue… of yes, this is the Board’s ability to do so, but this did not seem to be running consistent with things that we are just trained- and yes, I, I know Honor has issues of sort of connecting with the student body, but as someone deeply involved, in terms of- trust, and sort of all those things- it just, on your gut reaction, there was something that was missing here, there was something that didn’t feel right.
This was also 4 AM in the morning, at which point I took a 5:50- I stayed up, tried to sort of digest and think about everything, and then I took a 5:50 flight back to New York so I could make it to work the next morning. And that plane ride I remember just trying to- I had a little notebook, trying to write out different versions of do we release a statement, do we not release a statement, and if we release a statement is it- you know is it time to us to move on and go forth under these values of trust and, and heal as a community, and come together, and very much the language of a notion of a community of trust is a very powerful one, and I think we saw that. And as I kept sort of contemplating, thinking do we sort of do that sort of moving forward statement, there was just something in my gut which felt… that wasn’t the right thing to do. There still was something unsettled to me about that. And I think part of the reason, which I think at least from a lot of the reaction I’ve received, you know some people when we released the Honor Committee statement said, it was inappropriate for us to do anything, and some people said we did- we went too far, and I think- or didn’t do enough, rather- I was like when you’re getting criticism from both ends… that makes me happy. So I- but I think in many ways for that we tried to be as genuine as just- cut through any sense of what we should be doing to “this is what the right thing to say, and we’re gonna- we might be wrong, but this is the right thing to say.” And I just felt sort of doing a statement and sort of moving forward at that time didn’t feel right. But – I had my little book, like all different versions of what we could say and what we should say.
And then- I guess it was Tuesday, which was exhausting, and then I think it was Wednesday … I got a call from Dean Zeithaml wanting to sort of talk… and he was out of Charlottesville, which I knew, sort of once coming back to Charlottesville you were gonna get a different sense- and we had a really good just half an hour conversation about what was going on, where I thought student sentiment was, you know the ability of students to keep moving forward, keep progressing but at the same time the lingering issues- and he just seemed someone absolutely committed, once again, to really just doing what he thought was the right thing at the time, and I thought that was tremendously admirable, and I really enjoyed that conversation with him. And- and just he was- it was a terribly difficult situation, especially not being in Charlottesville, to be put in. And I think he was just handling it the best that an individual could possibly handle it, and for that I just give him a lot of credit. And then obviously things kept building, and obviously being in New York I still had a different sense of it than actually not being in Charlottesville, and then I think the deans came out with a letter which very much indicated this is gonna keep moving, and I think a group of people who worked at the University came out with a letter as well- who worked at the University and also alum, alumni came out with a letter.
And then sort of, I think it was Thursday, I got [??? h?t?]old that there was going to be the Rally for Honor, which we were not putting on but Honor was being invoked, and sort of thinking about do we speak, do we not speak , my biggest thing is – I am not… the Pope of the school, I am not the arbiter of all which is right and all which wrong, all which is honorable and all which is not- obviously I’m tasked with overseeing the administration of our Honor System and protecting the Community of Trust, but I’m- it was not my role to be able, in my opinion, and some people I guess had agreed and disagreed, to be able to say “You, person, are honorable and right; you, person, are dishonorable and wrong.” I did not view myself as sort of this moral arbit- this ultimate moral arbiter for the community.
[21:22] So it was like very important for me to try to be very intentional- like I said I got- some people thought the Honor Committee should not be weighing in on these matters, it was – inappropriate for us to do so, why are we doing so; other people wanted me… wrote emails saying they wanted to have an Honor Trial between President Sullivan and Rector Dragas in the Honor trial room (and I’m like “that’s not gonna happen”, for many, many reasons) . So, sort of [???] from both ends but, the biggest thing to me about the statement was that one, I thought it was the right thing for us to do and two, it was also backed up by a sense that although this was unprecedented, student voice needed to be represented… or strongly and fully represented, I’ll say. And then… [fingers tapping table].
So that was going on, I decided Thursday I would sp-consult with the Committee, I said “If I’m gonna speak this is roughly what I would talk about”, I got their okay to go and speak, I was speaking, you know, as obviously Chair but not necessarily sort of on behalf of the entire Committee but obviously in my capacity, and I did not, like I said, feel it was appropriate for me to weigh in and say “x” person was honorable or dishonorable or say “this” must be the course of action, because if that’s not the course of action the Community of Trust is going to g- move on and sort of making any judgment that it’s not I thought would have been overstepping my bounds.
But I wanted to sort of speak, speak once again, very much from the gut, sort of at that Rally for Honor, so I came back down I think it was Saturday… on Friday evening I drove back down again, spoke with as many people as I could, spoke then at that Rally for Honor, like I said talking about the foundation of trust was shaken, these values are more than just rhetoric, they truly mean something even- you can agree with the system of Honor or disagree with it, but this notion of community of trust I think we saw really meant something to a lot of alumni, students, faculty, and that was really important.
And then I drove back Sunday night, to go to work Monday, then I drove back down Monday afternoon to be here for the Tuesday Board of Visitors’ meeting, in which they reinstated the president, and that was just a very- exciting moment, it, it certainly- my personal opinion felt that that was absolutely the right thing for the Board of Visitors to do at the time, and I’m very glad that they decided to do that. I also think it’s important not to underestimate… how, how remarkable it is that they did that, you know? After the first meeting I didn’t necessarily think, although I still felt sort of unsettled by the general series of events, that a reinstatement was going to happen. At the beginning I certainly didn’t think that was a possibility. And I, I think in many ways towards the end it became – that that was, you know, that was the right path, and that was, everyone sort of was behind it because I think that the two issues which I talked about, about people sort of universally people feeling how this is being handled, how this is being explained was unsettling sort of merging directly into wheth-you know, you can th- on the grounds of the decision seemed very very shaky when the whole sort of process of it started crumbling, and that became very clear with the Cavalier Daily emails, that there weren’t any conspiracies but just the grounds on which this was pursued just didn’t feel -right. So I was very very glad, and very happy- that was, sort of, an exciting moment in many ways and sort of then, ended what was an eighteen-day saga. So that’s a very very long, long, long answer but that’s sort of, my whole account and experience of everything that happened.
25:06 R: All right. Thank you- so I just have a fe- a couple…
25:09 S: Of course. Yeah. And I won’t be as long with these follow-up questions.
25:11 A: (laugh)
25:13 R: Okay. So when did it become- apparent that reinstatement was a possibility? A real possibility?
25:22 S: I think… to me, there were several turning points. I think that Faculty Senate meeting was a turning point. I think people were united behind a common belief about- I think Provost Simon, you know, “unafraid to be a leader and unafraid to do what is right” was the quote he used, from I think it was Jason Ally [Editor-in-Chief of The Cavalier Daily], and I think that was something that just- brought people together, and I think that was really important. Another turning point was after the appointment of Dean Zeithaml was then- so the actions by the Deans to come together and then… [cough]… make their opinion known, which I thought was very powerful. And then also Dean Zeithaml, I think, showing sort of- the steadfast commitment to doing what he thought was the right thing to do, in that, in that very difficult situation I think, sort of, the combination of those two things was another defining moment, and when that happened, I thought that reinstatement became more and more of a possibility because… there didn’t seem any other path that would have been satisfactory considering everything else that we were learning, what was going on.
26:28 R: Did you expect the student response, the magnitude of the student response? The faculty response, alums?
26:35 S: N- I, I don’t think anyone could have expected it. And I think it was just, to me, it was surprising but in many ways… it was obviously a very difficult period for the University’s history, but as a student and as someone who spends a lot of time sort of, talking incessantly sort of, about Honor, about this or that it was – it was a very affirming experience to see sort of people touch upon these- on these values and on, on that like I said, this is more than rhetoric here at UVa, that people on a gut level no matter how they feel about- Single Sanction or “this” part of the system believe in sort of some- that, that you know this University has a greater purpose to educate and train citizen leaders, and coming with that is a sense of ethics, an ethical framework that should guide us. And to me that was very very powerful. So in many ways it was affirming to really see the large faculty and student response. And you know, as a student, I was part of that response- it was the initial shock, then it was unsettling, I was very… I don’t want to say fortunate but in a different position where I was able to meet with the Rector, and meet with certain individuals that allowed me to have greater insight into some of the things that were happening, but I was- responding, reacting, just as I think students and alumni and faculty were- throughout the country.
27:56 R: So…with the, with the student response, do you think that the role of Honor, as of the Honor Committee, the Honor System at this university is a very much student-run organization…
28:07 S: Absolutely.
28:09 R: … helped shape the student response?
28:11 S: I would never- sort of, say – have the Honor Committee, like take credit for [???]- it was about much more- the Honor Committee played a, played its part as I think we should have, but this was- when people look back on it they’re not gonna look back on sort of, this was a situation that dealt with Honor. This was a situation that dealt with the University of Virginia at its full magnitude and full weight and full depth. And I think we played our part as I feel that we should have, and I think that we did the right thing, although rare, for us, I thought it was important but when people look back on it I think they’re gonna- touch upon some of these values, which we may have contributed to the, to the explicit talking about them, as we saw sort of the meeting after, but in no way do I think, like this was about the Honor Committee and the University of Virginia. The Honor Committee- no, it was, it was, it was a full and comprehensive effort I think led by sort of a well-rounded sense of it and I think these values played a part in it but in no way would I sort of… think that the Honor Committee played a larger role, which I di- I mean, this was about the Board of Visitors and, and the president of our university and, and governance and, you know, what’s the future direction of colleges, and major issues facing other state universities and I think… the Honor Committee’s role was unique because you know, if this happened at other universities you wouldn’t have seen that sort of response and that made it unique to UVa, and I think that we played a role in that but… this was about much, much larger things as well.
29:45 R: Alright, so as you mentioned at other universities things like this have happened-
29:48 S: Right.
29:49 R: – where presidents have been ousted, and reinstatements have not happened. What do you think made the difference? Why did it, why did it unfold differently at UVa?
29:56 S: I think we were able to un- ra- I think people were able to rally around and unify behind a un- I don’t want to say un- a widely accepted, sort of argument, that was particularly receptive, right? So like, at most other schools sort of being able to say that this process seems wrong and that violated, you know, [fingers tapping on table] what we consider sort of our communal values and, and no matter where you stand on this that- sort of like I said those two issues, how that second issue about “this seems sort of unsettling to us” was able to in many ways – I don’t want to say take precedence, but, but incorporate the first argument, I think was very unique to UVa. Right? Other schools would have said “Okay. Even if we thought the process was flawed, even if we thought the handling… the Board of Visitor- or whatever board, you know, has the ability to do so, and we don’t have the full information and therefore we’re going to respect that decision.” Or follow that decision. And I think… sort of the sense of also self-governance, right? That you gotta take responsibility for your community as well, I think that was pervasive. [31:06] So I think that the great university values and ethics and, and in many ways language played a role in sort of saying- and calling people to what they previously sort of agreed upon- and, and that was sort of seen, like I said both Provost Simon and Rector Dragas, both invoked sort of- the same notions, right, in making their arguments and what they wanted to restore and remain at the community, and I think since you were then talking on the same terms, that was able to win the day. If that makes any sense.
31:40 R: Yeah.
31:40: A: Mm-hmm.
31 :42 R: Okay, so moving on a little bit to more of the aftermath of all of this-
31:46 S: Sure.
31:47 R: – how did your perspective change after the reinstatement? And in the time between the reinstatement and, say the beginning of classes?
31:56 S: Yeah, I,I thought – like I said it was very affirming, it was, it was a – I felt on a very visceral level, being in Charlottesville. That’s one of my greatest takeaways, is the power of place in being here was unlike- my parents, like, thought I was cra- like what are you doing, going back, you have an internship, like you’re gonna get fired, I mean just- and just being here was just a whole different experience than reading about it. My reaction afterwards, though I think that this is a really important year, I think students are in this interesting position where… our lives are not- we don’t directly interact with the president every day, right? So obviously the president [??? Bolds? Beholds?] our experience, but I think students, sort of getting- [??? Heightened?] up when they sort of felt this sense of urgency, that once the reinstatement- and that sort of sense was gone students have actually been much calmer, just in general, because I think it brought to light there are serious and significant issues facing this university and facing other universities and I think we should not lose sight of how important this year, the next couple of years are, that we have an opportunity to be a real national leader and take- and be at the forefront of some of these major challenges. And I… I, I just, I hope that we really- I, I think students really have an important role in fully embracing that opportunity.
33:17 R: So how- do you think student engagement with these issues that have r- that h… that were invoked over the summer –
33:25 S: Yeah.
33:26 R: –by this crisis. Do you think that that has waned at all? Has that faded- with the beginning of classes?
33:28 S: I think it naturally and inevitably would, I think it will be interesting as sort of these steering committees develop, how students respond and move from there. So I’ll just- I’ll be interested to see how these different steering committees and [???] planning committees, how students sort of respond and take it up.
33:51 R: So in your opinion has a clear and full explanation of th- of these events been provided?
33:56 S: I… I think it kind of depends on what you’re going to consider clear and full. You know, some people are going to say that they’re never satisfied and call for- a new Rector, all that. I- I’m, I’m very happy the president was reinstated, I think that was the right decision. From my opinion- it’s, it’s for sort of the Board and the President and the Commonwealth of Virginia to sort out, sort of- those potential governance issues, and- who they want, and, and who they consider responsible and all of, all of that. So, that’s how I would put it. For my situation it was an interesting eighteen days, and th- and I think the right decision was made, reinstating the president, I’m very happy that they did so.
34:50 R: And you talked about – allowing the community of trust to heal. Is that still in progress? Has it happened?
34:57 S: I, I think so- because I, I think ... so the Honor Committee’s goal since April was engagement, right? Getting students better connected to its Honor Committee. And I think – and, and we were planning actually for the beginning of the year this big, sort of Honor Beyond Grounds speaker series where we’d try to get big-name alumni to talk about Honor impacts your life not just now but in a real-world setting. There was no bigger example (laugh) of why sort of these things that we talk about is more than just a sixteen-word pledge. They have real, they can have real significance and meaning in your lives and how you conduct yourselves and how, how you view things. So…it was, it was a big part of our engagement campaign and that’s why we wanted to kick off the engagement campaign with the Roundtable we had in Old Cabell Hall with Professor George Cohen, President Sullivan, myself, Dean Groves, Hillary Hurd from the Board, and Professor Levenson – and that was not supposed to be to – re-hash the summer, but to talk about what does it mean to live in our community of trust, where we stand, wh- how we’ll move forward… and I think, like, were the sense of those values and the understanding the importance of those values are pretty strong right now, that’s an encouraging thing to me.
36:08 R: Okay, so I think it was President Sullivan, at that Roundtable, spoke about the positive- the, you know, Honor tells you not just what not to do but what to do-
36:18 S: Absolutely.
36:19 R: – do you think that’s been reinforced by this crisis?
36:20 S: Absolutely. And like I said- so I n- even in the statement, right, it was “we do not think that this necessarily involved an act of lying, cheating or stealing, but we feel we need to weigh- there’s something here, affirmatively, that we need to do.” And I think that goes to you know, sort of a lot of people and it’s an important metric to use, how many cases are reported to see the effectiveness of Honor, but my Lawn room door is open, with a computer and other valuables in there, and it has been for the whole semester. And nothing is ever missing. Nor do I have a doubt… maybe my laptop will be stolen, but I, I’m not concerned, nor am I when I leave it in a library, not am I when I lose my ID, because I drop it, and then it’s returned to me the next day. There are, there are very meaningful parts of the community of trust in a positive way which shows its effectiveness, and I definitely think that was incorporated this summer.
37:15 R: What opportunities does this, this period following the crisis provide to say, first-year students who may not have been here or been totally engaged with it when it was happening but are here now?
37:25 S: To me, how I look at it, it’s, it should be a similar sense of obligation, right? I, I definitely felt as a- you know, w- we’re students, right? And like I had the opportunity to sort of meet with the Rector and that was an obligation on behalf of you know, you gotta speak honestly and be productive and have these conversations and do everything you can. But I think it’s the same thing, that students at this university, we have an- [???}- this might be idealistic or whatever, but you know we have an obligation to pass it down to the next generation of students stronger than how we found it. And this was a tremendous opportunity for us as students, faculty, and administrators, governing bodies, to come together and, and be a national leader in confronting serious issues that affect higher education. And particularly public higher education. And I think- students should- obviously you go to class, you do everything, and, and you have your day-to-day routine, but to hopefully have some feeling of obligation that it is in many ways a very special opportunity to be a student at this university at this time during its history, and hopefully to take full advantage of that.
38:34 R: So-what, in your opinion, what was the net impact of this crisis on the University community?
38:39 S: I think it focused us. I think it certainly focused us. How much talk was there about faculty endowments before? And now we realize a major component of what makes this- what makes this public university still have that college of arts and sciences feel is just the tremendous quality of faculty we have here, and we need to raise money for faculty endowments, we need to make sure we are focused because we can’t afford not to be. And- that’s not supposed to be an indictment, sort of on, on any administration, that’s just that there are serious, serious issues out there, you know we’re not getting the state funding, quite frankly, we need. We’re not getting other support mechanisms that other schools get, and I think we can’t afford not to be focused, and I think both sides agree with that, and President Sullivan has also- y’know, I, I think in the speech in which she was reinstated she said that there are big challenges we face and I can’t do this alone. And- it’s, it’s sort of that same, I think, focus on sort of making sure that we are really buckling down and dealing with these issues.
39:50 R: Do you think that this will affect future students’ -perception of the Honor- the Honor System and- and/or the Honor Committee?
39:58 S: I have no idea, to be honest. I don’t know if it affects students now, sort of their opinion it affects obviously my opinion, and I think you know Honor is obviously a hot-button issue because often intertwined with the system of Honor, right, so how you think about- how we administrate the system in many ways, tends to sort of come to the forefront, but I hope this reminds students of the larger purpose of why we have it. That would be my hope, but… I have no idea.
40:28 R: All right, so you mentioned some of the, the ch- the higher education issues-
40:31 S: Right.
40:32 R: –that are com- that are starting to influence this process-
40:34 S: Right.
40:35 R: –things like funding, I think it st- it dropped to, I think eight percent -
40:39 S: Right.
40:39 R: -of our funding from the state-
40:40 S: Yeah.
40:40 R: -and some other things that are… do you want to expand on that?
40:42 S: T-t- to just, to me how do we interpret our role, right? We’re a top twenty-five university but we’re also a public university, what does that mean? So from my understanding- I’m not a historian, but you know- when Jefferson built it as a public university he meant that we were going to be a secular university when, in 1820- whenever, you know all the other schools were religious, almost training colleges, right? And he wanted to have a library at the heart of his campus, and that was his understanding of a public university. How do we reinterpret that, that mission, in the year 2012, 2013 and moving on? What does the university- what does this university do to lead, really the country, in sort of public higher education sort of initiatives? And I think – I, I’m no expert on sort of l- the issues that I probably know just as well as you guys know, in terms of funding, and the potential of new technology and how that’s going to affect things, and the o- the issues we have sort of with the hospital, just all sort of the large- that ten-point email, right? But… so I know that just like everyone else does, but I, I just really think that this is an opportunity for us to be a national leader in confronting these issues.
41:53 R: Okay. One thing that did come up during… and I think in that ten-point list as well was online education, Coursera, that-
42:00 S: Yeah.
42:00 R: -type of thing and the, the large, the massive courses-
42:04 S: Right.
42:05 R: –that are online. And one issue that has come up with that is the administration of Honor.
42:08 S: Right.
42:09 R: With that, do you want to expand on that, or…?
42:13 S: So Coursera will not- will be non-credit, so they do not fall under our jurisdiction. It will be something – [??? The?] Honor has been fairly proactive in sort of thinking about these types of logical issues. I think there are some issues that we’re trying to address this year… on-Grounds, but I think it’s something that committees are going to be very… vigilant and aware of, and I always- one thing I don’t think I told you about Convocation speeches- right,so since like 1910 they’ve been worried about changing this, you know changing demographics, getting northerners here, you know, having more men on Groun- you know all these things growing, you know, internat- all these things were going to, you know, be the end of Honor. And I think sort of the, the sense of doing what is right I hope is a timeless value. So I’m confident, and will always believe, that Honor will have a place at the University of Virginia… and if not, then I think it will speak to much larger issues with sort of- I, I think a commitment to do the right thing which is at the core of Honor and commitment for us as students to govern ourselves will always have a place in this university. Online-wise, virtually and both residentially.
43:22 R: Okay. All right, are there any doors that I haven’t opened, that you want to talk- any issues you want to talk-
43:26 S: No, I think I’ve been fairly long-winded, so I’m sorry for giving you like a forty-answer rundown on what happened but it was certainly a very interesting, interesting time period, and something I will … remember- for a long time (laugh). Missed a lot of sleep, but that was okay. (laughs from Rachel and Annie) Very, very interesting, and like I said something which will stay with me for a really long time. But, also, as many very difficult issues to sort through it. At the end of it, there were certainly affirming parts of it, at least in terms of th- some of the parts of the University that I care deeply about, in terms of- this talk about community of trust, honor, what does it look like and sort of seeing people indirectly and sometimes directly rally behind that sense was, was an affirming experience to me as a student.
44:18 R: Annie, are there any questions you want to ask? [She shakes her head.] Okay-
44:21 S: Okay?
44:22 R: – I guess that’s what we’ve got, then.
44:23 S: That’s okay.
44:23 A: [laugh]
44:26 R: All right, thank you so much for your time.
44:27 S: Thank you. And- you don’t need to- whatever the transcript is it’s, it’s fine with me, so-
44:33 R: Okay.
44:33 S: –hopefully I didn’t say anything too bad.
44:35 A: [laugh]