Education, Ethics, Universities

“Ethics” Training

Friday, 30th August 2019

Shall we pick apart this email (see below) sent by our university president, at 4 pm just before the university closes for a hurricane? Ok, lets do that.

1. This isn’t ethics training, it’s obedience training. You know, like you do with dogs. If it were ethics, it would be about a lot more than what they’re doing. I wish we’d just call it what it is.

2. We have a Vice-President for Compliance and Risk.

3. Do they really think that we will be ethical by taking this mandatory training? Or does this just cover the legal obligations of the university, so that if someone does something wrong they can claim that it wasn’t their fault?

4. “All employees at the level of director and above will also be required to attend a face-to-face training session” … “Invitations will be forthcoming.” – I don’t think that word (“invitations”) means what you think it means.

5. We have a whistleblowing hotline? I think I’ve seen how that goes. You tell someone about a problem in confidence, they go directly to that person and ask if there is a problem, they say no, and we’re good. Whiny faculty again, complaining about things.

6. How much of this do you suppose is coming from the fact that everyone thinks we have a broken ethical culture here because some incorrect pots of money were used for building things? And if that’s the real reason for this, why is this mandatory for everyone? Shouldn’t it be mandatory for the upper administration, who were responsible for these problems?

7. I could do this all day long.

8. I really want to know how “protection from retaliation” is going to be defined. Because most of the real retaliation that’s going to happen is going to have lots of deniability attached to it. I’ve seen people’s jobs just disappear (staff) – the real reason is because a vindictive person takes a dislike to them and engineers their departure, but the announced reason is that their duties were reassigned or no longer needed and so their job went away. I’ve seen people who were previously seen as candidates for promotion or for administrative jobs, deemed to not be “team players” and those possibilities dried up. I’ve seen proxies used to make peoples’ lives miserable. The point is, retaliation comes in a lot of forms, and I seriously doubt that someone speaking out could be protected from repercussions.

9. Still on this “reporting misconduct” thing – I’m guessing that they’re going to define what this means in these courses, but you can bet it’s going to be carefully circumscribed to very specific actions. So, anything like creating a chilly climate due to gender or race isn’t going to be part of this. Like I say, “ethics” is going to mean “obedience”.

10. So, here’s something that I have yet to see any university administrator realize, recognize, or acknowledge: The way to truly create an ethical space is to recognize and invest in the humanity of those who work in that place. That means giving people autonomy – control over the conditions of people’s working life. But the opposite is happening – everything has a procedure, a form, a set of rules and requirements that we must learn and must be tested on. This will break the brains of administrators, but here’s what I’ve seen – the the tighter the grip is on the lives of staff and faculty, the more disengaged they are going to be. At the same time, administrators hope for engagement, for everyone to go over and above, be creative, put the university first. This strategy of taking away autonomy and control takes us in the opposite direction. We are children, under direction from adults, patted on the head and called nice boys and girls. The center cannot hold here, and it is a direct result of this neoliberal conception of the university.

11. Why the hell are we getting this as a hurricane bears down on us?

12. As it happens, we’ve got a new center for ethics that just started up this past summer. Do you think they were asked about any of this? Ha. It’s because it isn’t about ethics, but like I said, obedience. Woof.

Well, that should do for now.

Mandatory Ethics Training This important message was scheduled to be delivered next week. But due to the possible impact of Hurricane Dorian, I am sharing this with you now so that you’re aware of the upcoming training requirements.

At UCF, we remain committed to accountability, transparency and strengthening a culture of ethics.

As part of our shared commitment, all UCF faculty and staff will be automatically enrolled in a new, two-part online ethics training program in September. Completion of this training is mandatory. You will receive enrollment information in the coming weeks.

This training program will cover the UCF Employee Code of Conduct, university policies on reporting misconduct, reporting options available to employees, the UCF IntegrityLine, and protection from retaliation, including for whistle-blowing.

All employees at the level of director and above will also be required to attend a face-to-face training session from 11 a.m. to noon Sept. 18 in the Pegasus Ballroom. If you are an employee at the level of director and above, please save the date. Invitations will be forthcoming.

Led by our new Vice President for Compliance and Risk Rhonda Bishop, this leadership training will be an opportunity for us to come together as a team and recommit to our values. All of us in leadership positions are entrusted to hold ourselves to a higher ethical standard in everything we do.Thank you all for your steadfast commitment to integrity and ethics.

Thad Seymour Jr., Ph.D.Interim President

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