Hotline offers confidential reporting tool, helps foster ethical culture at Rice

Rice’s ethics hotline gives members of the Rice community a way to anonymously report illegal, unethical or improper conduct without fear of backlash.

Picture of a finger dialing a phone

Rice’s EthicsPoint hotline, 866-294-4633, is available 24/7 for employees to anonymously report concerns about unethical conduct.

EthicsPoint, the vendor behind Rice’s hotline, offers faculty, staff, students and visitors a means  to report concerns such as financial misconduct, research misconduct, sexual harassment, workplace violence, unsafe work conditions and inappropriate employment practices or actions said Janet Covington, director of the internal audit. They can also use the hotline to report possible violations of law, accounting, auditing or internal control processes, Covington said.

“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, 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 is an important part of fostering an ethical culture at Rice, said Richard Baker, executive director for institutional equity at Rice, said.

“There must be a culture of reporting that people feel comfortable engaging in, whether they choose to do so with their identity known or do so anonymously,” Baker said. “They must be able to report in a way that makes them feel most comfortable.”

“EthicsPoint is a great resource if someone wants to speak up but is worried about retaliation,” he added. “Of course, we take our whistleblower protection policy very seriously. Anyone who makes a report in good faith is protected from retaliation.”

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/.

“The hotline continues to help people raise serious concerns, but we’ve also helped people who just have questions or 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 policies.

To contact EthicsPoint by phone, call 866-294-4633. Operators can take reports in English or Spanish, and arrangements can be made to take reports in other languages if needed.

More information on ways to report concerns is available in Rice’s Standards of Ethical Conduct, which is available at https://policy.rice.edu/code. Rice’s Whistleblower Protection and Non-Retaliation policy is available at https://policy.rice.edu/813.

If you have additional questions about reporting concerns about workplace conduct, contact Covington at 713-348-6312.

About Arie Passwaters

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