S. Richard Gard Jr.

Here’s to the often thankless work of an independent student press covering the life of a university. Here’s to the Cavalier Daily.

When a student referendum in February fell just 85 votes shy of mandating a change in the Honor System’s sole penalty of expulsion, we wanted to get some historical perspective.

Students have been voting on Honor’s single sanction since 1972. We wanted to know exactly how often and how close those votes have come.

It looked like no one could tell us. The Honor Committee, which doesn’t run its own elections, doesn’t keep official track of Honor referenda, although it did retrieve from storage a tower of boxes and let us rummage through them.

The University Board of Elections, which has overseen student votes since 2003, doesn’t have raw data from before spring 2014, when it did a systems conversion. Student Council managed elections in the past, but keeps no voting data in the present.

When we turned to the University’s official information hoarder, the Department of Institutional Assessment and Studies, we found a treasury of useful data, including past student polling on Honor questions, but not the vote tallies we needed.

Which led us to the Cavalier Daily. With its online archive going back only so far, we looked to hard-copy bound volumes. Like the color of their aging folios, they were golden.

To mine the data, we sent editorial assistant Kevin Seney (Col ’14) into the Alderman stacks with a headlamp and a spreadsheet. He emerged with our answers. How many sanction-related referenda have there been in the last 44 years? Sixteen. Was February’s 59 percent the largest sanction-reform majority ever? Third largest, actually. The fruits of Kevin’s research appear in this story.

Maurie McInnis (Col ’88), the University’s vice provost for academic affairs, provides historical perspective that’s both profound and personal. In this issue’s First Person essay she describes the arc of her perception of the Lawn, starting with when she lived there as a student and gave tours of it as a University Guide, and then moving to the present day, where, as a faculty member, she has helped unearth the stories of the enslaved workers who built it and toiled there.

The piece is something of a valedictory. McInnis leaves the University this summer to become provost of the University of Texas.

On the subject of farewells, we want to use this space, grossly too small for the occasion and grossly larger than anything he would want, to acknowledge the fine work of Robert Viccellio (Col ’92), who as editor over the past 16 years took Virginia Magazine to bold and beautiful new heights. We wish him well and thank him for creating the firm foundation on which we will strive to reach higher.

S. Richard Gard Jr.