Ethics hotline and website allow confidential reporting

As part of Rice’s commitment to maintaining an environment of ethical conduct and compliance with law and university policy, the university offers a way for employees and others to voice their concerns confidentially if they observe or experience improper conduct in the workplace. A person can make a confidential report by phone, online or in person; they can even do so anonymously.

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“We often say that if you see something, then say something. But what if you can’t? What if you are worried or unsure? That is why we have a hotline,” said Janet Covington, director of internal audit.

The hotline is a great resource for members of the Rice community who may have observed or experienced improper conduct, Covington said.

“People can raise important issues or ask questions and, if they prefer, they can do so confidentially and anonymously by calling or making an online report through our contracted vendor, EthicsPoint,” she said.

EthicsPoint allows people to raise matters that are brought to the attention of the administration and even the Board of Trustees. Any member of the Rice community, including faculty, staff, students and visitors, may use EthicsPoint to report concerns regarding matters such as financial misconduct, inappropriate employment practices or actions, research misconduct, sexual harassment, workplace violence, unsafe work conditions, possible violations of law and accounting, auditing and internal control processes. The hotline is also one of the many resources available to anonymously report sexual harassment, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking. More information is available at https://safe.rice.edu/.

“You can access EthicsPoint’s website or toll-free number from anywhere, including from home if you’d rather not use a Rice computer,” Covington said. “If you want to remain anonymous, there’s an anonymous chat feature that allows you to schedule a time to discuss your concerns online or provide additional information. Or you can communicate back and forth through e-messages.”

Faculty and staff members are encouraged to communicate their concerns directly through personal meetings with a supervisor or other administrator whenever possible and appropriate, but the important thing is to speak up, Covington said.

“We recognize, however, that there may be circumstances when you are not comfortable reporting the issue in this manner,” she said. “We would rather you report anonymously than keep the information to yourself.”

“The hotline continues to help people with serious concerns, and we’ve helped people who just needed more information about our policies,” said Ken Liddle, Rice’s Chief Compliance Officer.

To contact EthicsPoint online, visit www.rice.edu/ethics. The website includes frequently asked questions and a link to Rice University policies.

To contact EthicsPoint by phone, call the toll-free number, 866-294-4633. EthicsPoint operators can take reports in English or Spanish. Arrangements can be made to take reports in other languages if needed.

If you have questions about EthicsPoint or other methods for reporting questions or concerns about workplace conduct, contact Covington at 713-348-6312. More information on ways to report concerns is also available on Rice’s Compliance website at http://rucompliance.rice.edu/.

About Arie Passwaters

Arie Wilson Passwaters is a Web editor in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.