Smith College is an organization with strong values of responsibility and integrity. Our Code of Conduct contains general guidelines for professional conduct.
Smith is committed to an environment where open, honest communications are the expectation, not the exception. We want you to feel comfortable in approaching your supervisor or management in instances where you believe violations of policies or standards have occurred.
If you prefer to place a confidential report of violations, you are invited to use a service hosted by a third-party provider, EthicsPoint. You may submit a report online or by phone.
The information you provide will be sent to us by EthicsPoint on a totally confidential basis. Your report will be anonymous if you wish. You have our guarantee that your comments will be heard.
EthicsPoint is not a 911 or emergency service. If there is a risk to health or safety, please dial 911, campus safety (585-2490), or local authorities.
EthicsPoint is not intended to be used to report concerns about issues in the classroom. For concerns about the classroom, including issues of bias, we encourage students, whenever possible, to talk about the issue with their faculty member, adviser, and/or with the department chair. Students may also consult about concerns regarding issues in the classroom with the associate provost, the dean of students and the vice president for inclusion, diversity and equity.
Definitions of Violations
Any form of unethical behavior that violates the integrity of the academic process, such as bestowing or seeking academic favors or advancements on the basis of friendship or gifts, concealing conflicts of interest, or deliberate failure to meet professional obligations.
Authorized or unauthorized student usage of answers, papers, works, or projects owned or created by another student, professional or individual.
An unsafe situation caused by the campus or students that would produce an insecure environment. (Examples include, environmental damage, poor housekeeping, handling and disposing of hazardous materials.)
Accounting and Auditing Matters
The unethical systematic recording and analysis of the business and financial transactions associated with generally accepted accounting practices. (Examples include: misstatement of revenues, misstatement of expenses, misstatement of assets, misapplications of GAAP principles, wrongful transactions)
Mishandling of donor funds directed to the institution, including funds that may not have been used in accordance with the donor’s intentions and wishes.
Falsification of Contracts, Reports or Records
Falsification of records consists of altering, falsifying, or forging all or any part of a document, contract or record for the purpose of gaining an advantage, or misrepresenting the value of the document, contract or record. Failure to complete and post or file data and reports required by law to governmental agencies.
The intentional misrepresentation or concealment of information in order to deceive, mislead, or acquire something of value. A fraud is an intentional deception perpetrated to secure an unfair gain. (Examples include: Violation of Policy, Sabotage)
Improper Disclosure of Financial Records
Careless, unlawful or fraudulent conduct in recording, preparing, reporting, disclosing of either the value or the content of a contract, report, statement, document, record, or electronic file.
Improper Giving or Receiving of Gifts
The giving, receiving or solicitation of items which could be reasonably interpreted as an effort to influence a business relationship or decision; items given, received or solicited for the benefit of an individual or an individual’s family or friends; items given, received or solicited during or in connection with contract negotiations; the acceptance of cash, checks, money order, vouchers, gift certificates, loans, products or services.
Improper Supplier or Contractor Activity
Supplier or contractor activity in violation of institution’s policies and procedures; improper supplier or contractor selection based on personal gain, improper negotiation or diversion of contract awards.
The act of stealing; specifically: the felonious taking and removing of personal property with intent to deprive the rightful owner of it. To appropriate (as property entrusted to one’s care) fraudulently to one’s own use (Examples include: bookkeeping errors, misapplication of funds, and mishandling of cash)
Waste, Abuse or Misuse of Institution Resources
Improper or unauthorized use of this institution’s resources and technologies for personal gain.
Misuse of Assets, Players or Endorsements
Use of college sports equipment, uniforms or any other items owned by the institution for personal activities. Improper talent scout activity; arranging meetings between current or former players with talent scouts; taking money for arranging introductions with scouts.
Phone calls or unauthorized visits outside the recruiting period; undue duress or influence from alumni, trustee or unauthorized personnel; recruiting players outside amateur status.
Scholarship/Financial Aid Misconduct
Falsifying entrance or placement exams; utilizing an assumed name; improper inducement of benefits or financial aid. Unusual treatment for one player and not for others in loans, transportation or housing benefits; arranging for fraudulent academic credit or falsification of transcripts.
A bias incident is an act of bigotry, harassment or intimidation committed by a member of the Smith community against another member of the Smith community based on their age, color, creed, disability, gender identity, gender expression, race, religion, nation/ethnic origin, sex, sexual orientation or veteran status. This includes, but is not limited to, slurs, graffiti, written messages, or images that harass or intimidate individuals or groups because of their membership in the above listed protected classes.
Discrimination, Harassment or Retaliation/Retribution
Unfair treatment or uninvited and unwelcome verbal or physical conduct because of your race, color, creed, religion, national/ethnic origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, or with regard to the bases outlined in the Veterans Readjustment Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. (Examples include: bias in hiring, bias in assignments, wrongful termination, bias in promotions, bias in educational decisions, unfair compensation, etc.). Retaliation or retribution for bringing or participating in a complaint of discrimination or harassment.
Sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature where: 1) the conduct is made as a term or condition of an individual’s employment, education, living environment or participation in the college community; 2) the acceptance or refusal of such conduct is used as the basis or a factor in decisions affecting an individual’s employment, education, living environment, or participation in the college community; or 3) the conduct unreasonably impacts an individual’s employment or academic performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment for that individual’s employment, education, living environment, or participation in the college community.
Accessibility and Disability Matters
Failure to meet requirements as defined by laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), and the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (examples include: improper disability access, not afforded access to accommodations).
Conflict of Interest
A situation in which a person or a family member has a financial interest or non financial interest that may compromise, or provide the incentive to compromise, the behavior in the conduct of the person’s duties at the institution, the person’s influence on decisions that the institution may make, or the person’s influence over his or her associates outside the institution. A conflict of interest may be real, potential or apparent.
Employee Benefits Abuses
Improper, misleading or deceptive actions /statements, falsification of records, or misrepresentation of actual conditions related to institution benefits plans, including health and supplemental insurance plans, tuition benefits and sick or other paid time-off programs.
Involves any employee conduct that is in violation of the institution’s code of conduct, ethics policy, faculty handbook or any other printed materials that constitute employee conduct. Time abuse concerns about an employee or manager who are falsifying his/her work hours.
Failure to Comply with Federal or State Employment and Education laws
Failure to meet requirements as defined by laws such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, or the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), the Massachusetts Civil Rights Act, and the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (Examples include: Nepotism, improper disability access)
Unsafe Working Conditions
Failure to meet requirements needed to perform all duties in a secure environment. Potential areas of harm. (Examples include: environmental damage, OSHA, EPA, supervisor directive, poor housekeeping)
Workers Compensation or Disability Benefits Abuses
Observation of physical activity of employees receiving disability or other compensation benefits from the institution in contradiction to the degree of the disability certified by medical personnel.
Refers to the technical, contractual, administrative and physical steps taken by the institution to protect against unauthorized access to and disclosure of personally identifiable data of students, faculty and other third parties that we possess. Includes the theft of, and intentional or inadvertent loss of such data.
Research Environmental and Safety Matters
Failure to meet the requirements of any applicable law, rule or regulation relating to the environment, working conditions or workplace safety, including, without limitation, regulations promulgated by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and similar agencies in other jurisdictions. Includes a failure to inform supervisors of the failure to meet the requirements.
The intentional misrepresentation or concealment of information in order to deceive, mislead, or acquire something of value. A fraud is an intentional deception perpetrated to secure an unfair gain.
Human or Animal Research
Inappropriate use of humans or animals involved in research.
Intellectual Property Infringement, Misappropriation or Disclosure
Any unauthorized or inappropriate use, misappropriation or disclosure of confidential information (in any form) or intellectual property belonging to the institution or any institution’s customer, supplier or business partner, including, without limitation, any intellectual property protected under any U.S. or other laws relating to copyrights, patents or trade secrets. Also includes any unauthorized or inappropriate use of any institution computer system.
Research Conflict of Interest
Concerns related to violations of conflict of interest policies governing researchers.
Research Grant Misconduct or Misappropriation of Costs
Unallowable or questionable expenditures or cost transfers to government grants, contracts or other agreements. Any expenditures or cost transfers that may be in violation of OMB Circular A-21.
Fabrication, falsification, plagiarism, or other practices that seriously deviate from those that are commonly accepted within the scientific community for proposing, conducting, or reporting research. Fabrication is making up data or results and recording or reprinting them. Falsification is manipulating research materials, equipment or processes, or changing or omitting data or results, such that the research is not accurately reported in the research record. Plagiarism is the appropriation of another person’s ideas, processes, results, or words without giving appropriate credit.
Confidentiality refers to the protection of the institution’s and our customer’s non-public information and use of such information only for legitimate business purposes.
Environmental and Safety Matters
Failure to meet the requirements of any applicable law, rule or regulation relating to the environment, working conditions or workplace safety, including, without limitation, regulations promulgated by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and similar agencies in other jurisdictions.
Risk and Safety Matters- Improper Supplier or Contractor Activity
Supplier or contractor activity in violation of institution’s policies and procedures; improper supplier or contractor selection based on personal gain, improper negotiation or diversion of contract awards.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is EthicsPoint?
EthicsPoint is an independent, third-party provider of anonymous internet and telephone hotline services. It helps the college’s leadership and members of the Smith community to address and report fraud, misconduct, bias incidents and other ethical issues in our community.
The EthicsPoint platform allows a community member to ask a question or report a concern anonymously and get a reply directly back.
Is this a change in college policy?
No. EthicsPoint is not a policy; it is a mechanism for reporting ethical concerns. It neither adds nor removes any of the individual’s or the college’s rights or responsibilities that currently exist under college policy.
Why did Smith adopt EthicsPoint?
In keeping with the college’s commitment to sustaining a safe and ethical environment, Smith is providing an additional anonymous mechanism—beyond existing channels (e.g., the Office of Human Resources; the Provost’s Office; the President’s Office; the Office of Inclusion, Diversity and Equity; the Office of the Dean of Students)—to report ethics concerns. Examples of such concerns would include fraud, abuse, misconduct, conflict of interest, bias incidents in the community at large, and lack of compliance with laws and regulations. Having an online process makes it easier and more secure for all members of our community to report concerns. More than 800 institutions of higher education worldwide use EthicsPoint. These include Bowdoin, MIT, Princeton, Cornell, Amherst and Tufts.
Does Smith really want me to report?
Yes. Ethical conduct and transparency are part of the core values of the Smith College community. Unethical conduct hurts all of us: faculty, staff and students. If you are aware of an incident of misconduct or an ethical violation, Smith College wants to know about it and will investigate to determine how to address it.
What if I suspect something is wrong but am not sure?
Many problems are uncovered as the result of concerns expressed by individuals who may not be sure of the facts but are sufficiently troubled about how an activity or behavior may affect Smith or themselves. The information you provide will be evaluated, then a determination will be made as to whether any further investigation is warranted.
Why use a third-party online product for ethics reporting?
When an incident is reported through EthicsPoint, the program allows the college to send a message to the reporter while maintaining the reporter’s anonymity and privacy. This allows those with questions to ask them fully confidentially and also allows the college to reply. That might include a request for more information, a clarifying question or additional information, a referral or a statement of closure on an inquiry—none of which we can do now in the case of anonymous reports.
Why do we need a reporting mechanism?
It is vital that institutions have an anonymous mechanism for reporting ethical violations. Financial fraud and abuse, for example, have significant detrimental effects on organizations and institutions as well as on employee and student morale. Further, ethics violations are frequently underreported due to fear of retaliation, intimidation or penalty. The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) 2016 survey indicates that, by far, the most common way organizations detect fraud is through anonymous tips. According to this survey, 39.1 percent of fraud incidents in U.S. organizations were discovered through tips, while only 16.5 percent were uncovered by internal audit and 13.4 percent were uncovered by managerial review. According to the ACFE, more than half the tips from whistleblowers came in through online reporting. Further, regardless of whether the organization is private, public, municipal or not-for profit, inside tips are the most common method of discovering unethical misconduct.
Is EthicsPoint the only way someone at Smith can report a concern anonymously?
No. Like most institutions and organizations, Smith already receives anonymous complaints, whether in the form of unsigned notes, emails from anonymous accounts, messages on social media, unidentified phone calls and so on.
Does adopting EthicsPoint mean Smith privileges anonymous reports over open dialogue?
No. When possible, the college encourages open dialogue and resolution of disputes. Despite protections against retaliation—for example, whistleblower laws—some people feel safer having an anonymous reporting option, particularly when there is a power differential between the reporter and the person allegedly engaging in unethical conduct.
Is EthicsPoint secure?
Yes. EthicsPoint’s website and global architecture are designed and operated under best practice guidelines for data and systems security. EthicsPoint has more than 12,000 clients and has never experienced a security breach.
What types of complaints could I report through EthicsPoint?
EthicsPoint is designed for concerns relating to violations of the college’s Code of Conduct and allegations of fraud or unethical behavior in financial matters, environmental health and safety, research and student safety, athletics, as well as conflicts of interest, bias incidents in the community, and academic misconduct.
Is EthicsPoint intended to be used to report concerns about issues in the classroom?
No. For concerns about the classroom, including issues of bias, we encourage students, whenever possible, to talk about the issue with their faculty member, adviser, and/or with the department chair. Students may also consult about concerns regarding issues in the classroom with the associate provost, the dean of students and the vice president for inclusion, diversity and equity.
How does EthicsPoint maintain my anonymity?
The server is hosted off-site by EthicsPoint. Neither EthicsPoint nor Smith has an independent means of identifying reporters. The only information the college will receive about a reporter is what the individual chooses to submit through the EthicsPoint system. Reporters who want to remain anonymous should be careful not to inadvertently submit identifying information when filing a report (e.g., “From my desk next to Jane Doe...”).
How do the anonymous website and hotline work?
The service is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. When you access the website or call the hotline, you are asked to describe the nature of the suspected problem. If you use the web-based service, you complete a questionnaire. After your report is submitted, EthicsPoint notifies the appropriate Smith official within one business day.
Is the telephone toll-free hotline confidential and anonymous, too?
Yes. You will be asked to provide the same information you would report online, and an interviewer will type your responses into the EthicsPoint website. These reports have the same security and confidentiality measures applied to them during delivery.
Can I file a report from home and still remain anonymous?
Yes. Any report, no matter where it is submitted from, will remain secure and anonymous. The internet portal never identifies a visitor by screen name and the EthicsPoint system strips away internet addresses to maintain anonymity.
Do I have to identify myself?
No. You have the option of identifying yourself, but only if you want to. No one will know you called EthicsPoint or submitted a report through the website unless you choose to identify yourself. All reports will be handled the same whether they are submitted anonymously or not.
Is the phone call recorded? If so, can the electronic report be traced back to me?
No. Phone calls are not recorded. Information provided through the website is maintained by EthicsPoint, and the site is designed not to be traced back to the source.
What if I want to be identified with my report?
There is a section in the report where you may identify yourself if you would like to.
Is EthicsPoint intended to be used to request an accessibility or disability accommodation?
No. Students can find information regarding accommodation requests at Disability Services. Employees can find information regarding accommodation requests at the Office of Human Resources.
Will there be an investigation after the information is reported to the college?
If sufficient information or evidence of fraud or conduct in violation of college policy is provided, an investigation will likely occur. Whether an investigation is initiated depends on several factors, such as the nature of the information, the extent to which it can be verified, the specificity of the details provided, and (if applicable) the amount of supporting documentation the reporter can provide using the EthicsPoint file-upload reporting option.
How do I stay involved after I contact the anonymous reporting hotline?
After you submit your report through the hotline, you may be asked to provide additional information to initiate or complete the investigation. When you submit the report, you will be issued a “report key,” along with a password of your choosing, which enables you to return to EthicsPoint through the website or telephone hotline within 10 business days. If you return within 10 business days, you will have the opportunity to review any follow-up questions and, if you would like, to submit more information.
Who receives reports from EthicsPoint? How are they trained?
Reports of discrimination, harassment and bias in the community at large are sent to the vice president for inclusion, diversity and equity. All other reports go to the associate vice president for human resources. Both have been trained to use EthicsPoint, and will receive periodic training as needed. The vice president for inclusion, diversity and equity will receive yearly training on bias incidents and issues regarding academic freedom and freedom of expression.
Who keeps records of reports transmitted through EthicsPoint, and for how long?
Bias incident reports will be kept by the Office of Inclusion, Diversity and Equity for the purposes of collecting aggregate data but individually identifiable information will be purged at the end of each academic term. For example, reports initiated during the summer will be purged at the end of the fall semester. Other record keeping will depend on the incident reported, and on any record retention laws or regulations that may apply.
What is a bias incident?
A bias incident is an act of bigotry, harassment or intimidation committed by a member of the Smith community directed at another member or members of the Smith community based on their age, color, creed, disability, gender identity, gender expression, race, religion, nation/ethnic origin, sex, sexual orientation or veteran status. This includes, but is not limited to, slurs, graffiti, written or digital messages or images that harass or intimidate individuals or groups because of their membership in the above-listed protected classes.
Why are we concerned with bias incidents?
Bias incidents often cause significant harm to campus communities. Campus turmoil at colleges and universities in recent years has been sparked by bias incidents.
Bias incidents typically take the form of graffiti and other property damage. With a better reporting mechanism, the college can take immediate action to remove the damage. Further, we can better identify and respond to patterns of concern, with the goal of identifying appropriate educational responses (i.e., programming, training) and connecting individuals affected by bias incidents with supportive resources.
What will Smith do with a bias incident report?
Establishing a mechanism to report bias incidents supports the college’s commitment to maintaining an inclusive campus climate. Through reports of bias incidents, we will be better informed of barriers to inclusion. EthicsPoint does not provide a mechanism for investigative or disciplinary action for reports of bias incidents. It enables the college to track bias incidents, collect aggregate data, identify educational responses, and connect individuals affected by bias incidents with supportive resources. No member of the community shall face an investigation and discipline from a report of bias unless the reported conduct violates college policy or applicable law. Smith will not conduct an investigation of any community members without them knowing as soon as is feasible what they are being accused of and who is making the accusation.
Will a report of a bias incident go into an employee’s personnel file?
No. Incident reports will be kept by the Office of Inclusion, Diversity and Equity for the purposes of collecting aggregate data but individually identifiable information will be purged at the end of each academic term. There will be an investigation only if the alleged incident is separately a violation of Smith policy or applicable law. Further, under Massachusetts law, any employee may review their personnel file and must be notified if any information is used, has been used or may be used to negatively affect the employee’s qualification for employment, promotion, transfer, additional compensation or the possibility that the employee will be subject to disciplinary action.
Were bias incidents reported before EthicsPoint?
Yes. Some reports have come in through the Office of Human Resources; the dean of students; or the Office of Inclusion, Diversity and Equity. Others have come in through reports to faculty or staff. Still other concerns have come to the college’s attention through anonymous letters and through “dummy” email accounts. However, many reports reached the administration several days and weeks after the incidents occurred, leaving them unaddressed.
What do other institutions do with regard to bias incidents?
Although not all institutions provide for online bias reporting, most have a mechanism to report.