The Why, What and How of the Reporting and Help Line
Why do we need a reporting system?
An effective reporting system will augment our other efforts to foster a culture of integrity and ethical decision-making. By creating open channels of communication, we can promote a positive work environment and support our shared values identified in "Our Common Ground."
May I report using either the Internet or the telephone?
Yes, you have the ability to file a confidential, anonymous report via either the telephone (877-310-0413) or the internet (https://uvm-helpline.ethicspoint.com).
What type of situations should I report?
The reporting system is designed for individuals to report any violation of our Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards or other compliance concern you may have. The reporting portal identifies a number of types of issues that may be reported; additionally, the site lists links to University policies for reference should you want to review the policy prior to reporting. The reporting system web interface or trained phone representative will walk you through the reporting process by identifying the broader categories and then the specific issues within each category that may be reported; however, if you cannot find the specific issue you want to report, we recommend that you report using the issue type "other" found in each general category. Please provide as much specific information in your report as possible, but don't feel you need "all the facts" to file a report.
Are there any matters that should not be reported through this system?
Academic Integrity matters, student conduct issues, or any event presenting an immediate threat to life or property should not be reported through this system. Please dial 911 in the event of an immediate safety threat, obvious criminal activity or other emergency. Academic integrity matters should be reported to the Center for Student Ethics and Standards via the Academic Integrity Referral Form at: https://publicdocs.maxient.com/reportingform.php?UnivofVermont&layout_id=2 (Opens in new window). Student conduct matters should be reported to the Center for Student Ethics & Standards via their Incident Report Form at: https://publicdocs.maxient.com/incidentreport.php?UnivofVermont (Opens in new window).
Additionally, the system should not be used to address employee dissatisfaction. Employee disputes or grievances should follow established channels such as the Grievance and Mediation Policy for non-represented staff or the applicable bargaining unit's contract provisions.
If I see a violation, shouldn't I just report it to my manager or other appropriate office and let them deal with it?
When you observe some behavior that you believe violates our Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards or other University policy, we encourage you to report it through this reporting system or other existing means. Ideally, you should bring any concerns forward to your direct supervisor or you may use other existing channels for reporting specific issues as identified by University policy. We recognize, however, that there may be circumstances when you are not comfortable reporting the issue in this manner. We would rather you report anonymously through this reporting system than keep the information to yourself.
Does the Reporting and Help Line replace existing reporting channels?
No, the Reporting and Help Line supplements many existing reporting channels. Reports will be directed to the appropriate responding department; this may be the same department that would have received the report had other more direct channels been used.
Why should I report what I know? What's in it for me?
We all have the right to work in a positive environment and with that right comes the responsibility of acting in an ethical manner and letting the appropriate people know if someone is not acting appropriately. By working together, we can maintain a healthy and positive environment. Misconduct can pose a serious threat to the University.
Does management really want me to report?
Management encourages reports so that possible violations of policy and law may be addressed appropriately and promptly.
Isn't this system just an example of someone watching over me?
The Reporting and Help Line concentrates on being a positive aspect of our overall philosophy, and allows us to assure a safe, secure, and ethical workplace. You are encouraged to seek guidance on ethical dilemmas, provide positive suggestions, or communicate a concern. Effective communication is critical to our University workplace and this is a great tool to enhance that communication.
We have carefully chosen the best reporting tool to meet our compliance obligations while maintaining a positive reporting environment.
What happens when I make a report?
The University has contracted with Navex Global (EthicsPoint), an external company with experience in managing reporting lines for universities. This company manages the intake of all phone and internet reports. Once received, reports are routed to a team of University Responders that review the reports, identify issues and make the appropriate referrals. This team is comprised of four individuals, one each from Audit Services, Compliance Services, General Counsel, and the President's Office. All reports are reviewed for potential conflicts of interest by the vendor prior to being routed to the initial University Response team and again by the University Response team prior to making internal referrals. Internal referrals will generally follow a predetermined referral matrix that follows University procedure and guidance. For example an allegation of discriminatory behavior would be referred to the Office of Affirmative Action and an allegation of misuse of university resources may be referred to the Office of Audit Services. Once a report is referred, the receiving office is responsible to follow their own internal protocols for investigating and reporting on the issue(s). The appropriate level of management will then respond with corrective action as necessary to address the findings. The initial team of University Responders reviews the final outcome of each referral, including management's actions, before closing out the report. Reporters will be able to anonymously view the status of the report, including when a report has been received, when it has been referred and when it has been closed.
How do I follow up with more information or hear about the outcome of a report?
When you file a report using the Reporting and Help Line, you receive a unique user name and are asked to choose a password. You can return to the EthicsPoint system again either by Internet or telephone and access the original report to add more detail or answer questions posed by a University responder and add further information that will help resolve open issues.
Status updates regarding when the report has been received, referred and closed will be posted to the system for you to view with the user name and password created upon making the initial report. Due to the confidential nature of personnel matters, we are unable to share specific information about results of investigations. However, if upon closure of a report you continue observe inappropriate behavior, we encourage you to make an additional report.
Will the Ethicspoint system server log identify me through my work computer's address as a report originator?
EthicsPoint does not generate or maintain any internal connection logs with IP addresses, so no information linking your computer to EthicsPoint is available. In fact, EthicsPoint is contractually committed not to pursue a reporter's identity.
If you feel uncomfortable making a report on your work computer, you have the option of using a computer outside our work environment (such as one located at an Internet café, library, etc.) through the EthicsPoint secure website. Many people choose this option, as EthicsPoint's data shows that fewer than 12% of reports were generated during business hours.
Can I file a report from home and still remain anonymous?
Yes, a report from home or any Internet portal will remain secure and anonymous. An Internet portal never identifies a visitor by screen name and the EthicsPoint system strips away Internet addresses so that anonymity is totally maintained.
I am concerned that the information I provide the Reporting and Help Line will ultimately reveal my identity. How can you assure me that will not happen?
The EthicsPoint system is designed to protect your anonymity. However, if you wish to remain anonymous, you - as a reporting party - need to ensure that the body of the report does not reveal your identity by accident. For example, "From my office next to Joe Smith…" or "In my 33 years in xx department…".
If you choose to remain anonymous keep in mind that certain types of reports may be difficult to fully investigate.
If I choose to identify myself, how will I be protected?
University Responders will maintain confidentiality of reporters as much as they are able to throughout the investigative process; however, anonymity of reporters cannot be guaranteed. Reporters should be assured that University management takes the whistle blower protections in the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards and other University policies very seriously. Retaliation against a reporter is, in itself, a serious and reportable offense.
What if my supervisor or other manager is involved in the violation? Will they get a copy of the report?
Conflict screening is built in to the responding process. Initially EthicsPoint ensures that any individual identified in a report will not be notified nor have access to the report. The University Responders that make report referrals perform additional conflicts screening to ensure the report will not be referred to a party that has a conflict or is cited in the report.
Are there confidentiality protections regarding the person a report is about?
University responders maintain confidentiality throughout their investigative process to the extent that they can do so while completing the review. All reports are shared with the minimum number of individuals necessary to complete the review and all involved individuals are apprised of the confidential nature of reviews. All reports are treated as allegations only. No actions will be taken before conclusion of an investigation unless temporary measures are necessary to address immediate institutional concerns as to personal safety or the protection of property.