Cameron Pollack / Sun Senior Photographer

President Martha E. Pollack reminded Cornell community members of a hotline system for reporting ethical concerns in an email sent on Wednesday.

April 25, 2018

Pollack Calls on Community to Report Ethical Concerns

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President Martha E. Pollack called on Cornell community members to report ethical concerns and highlighted a confidential hotline system in an email sent to the Cornell community on Wednesday morning.

John Carberry, a University spokesperson, said in an email to The Sun that Pollack’s message is a “routine announcement” made each year. Former Interim President Hunter Rawlings sent a similar email to the Cornell community in May 2016.

In her email, Pollack also brought up the “Standards of Ethical Conduct,” which every person acting on the University’s behalf must abide by. According to the policy, which was was first issued in October 1996 and last updated in June 2013, all student employees, faculty, staff, executive officers and trustees are bound by this policy.

“This policy and other university policies and applicable laws require that all members of our community are aware of their responsibilities to report misconduct,” Pollack said in the email.

The document includes “a list of some of the areas where frequent ethical questions arise” and outlines principles for how to act ethically. One of these principles is a call upon representatives to avoid the creation of an environment where abuse of power persists.

“Support the creation and maintenance of an environment in which abuse of power is not tolerated,” it states.

Pollack stated that it is an “obligation” to report an incident, whether the ethical concern involves conflicts of interest, research, athletics or other areas. She said community members should first tell their concern to their units or to “the appropriate dean, vice provost, or vice president.”

Pollack also said that when community members have “concerns about reporting within [their] unit”, they can use a confidential hotline to report issues. The hotline system has both a telephone, with a number of 1-866-293-3077, and a website. The system is run by EthicsPoint, an incident management software that is part of NAVEX Global, according to the EthicsPoint website.  Ithaca College and the University of California also use the same software.

The hotline website also provides the link to a program that allows community members to report criminal actions that are not an emergency, which is called the Cornell University Police Silent Witness Program, Pollack said.

“In addition, retaliation against persons who have made good faith reports of ethical or other standards violations is absolutely prohibited under Cornell policy and many applicable laws,” she stated in the email.

“The integrity of the university depends on our collective efforts to maintain the highest standards of ethical conduct,” Pollack expressed.