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What is the MSU Ethics Line

The MSU Ethics Line is a comprehensive and confidential reporting tool to assist management and employees to work together to address fraud, abuse, and other misconduct in the workplace, all while cultivating a positive work environment.

Who is EthicsPoint and what is their involvement

EthicsPoint, an expert in incident management systems, has been contracted by MSU to provide a confidential reporting system. As an outside company, EthicsPoint is outside the influence and control of MSU administrators. The MSU Ethics Line is a valuable tool to help identify and resolve sensitive issue by receiving information, and providing an intermediary to those individuals who wish to maintain their anonymity in reporting concerns. All telephone reports are taken by EthicsPoint staff and all report data is maintained on EthicsPoint servers. Access to incident report data is controlled by EthicsPoint; selected MSU staff has access to incident data only to the extent needed to adequately investigate reports while maintaining confidentiality. Providing incident management systems to others is the business of EthicsPoint. Their ability to provide incident management systems while maintaining the highest standards of confidentiality is critical to their business success.

Why do we need the MSU Ethics Line

  • An effective reporting system will augment our other efforts to foster a culture of integrity and ethical decision-making.
  • In January 2005, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants recommended that all organizations develop an anonymous reporting system (preferably operated by a third party as ours is with EthicsPoint).
  • Reporting systems are increasingly being viewed as a necessary best business practice in not-for-profit organizations.

May I report using either the Internet or the telephone

Yes. With the MSU Ethics Line, you have the ability to file a confidential, anonymous report via either the telephone or the Internet.

What type of situations should I report

The MSU Ethics Line is designed for employees to report any:

  • violation of applicable state and/or federal laws and regulations
  • a serious violation of University policy
  • the use of University property, resources, or authority for personal gain or other non University-related purpose except as provided under University policy

If I see a violation, shouldn't I just report it to my supervisor, internal audit, or human resources and let them deal with it

When you observe some behavior that you believe violates state and/or federal laws and regulations or university policy, we expect you to report it. Ideally, you should bring any concerns forward to your direct supervisor, the next higher level of management and/or the Office of Internal Audit. We recognize, however, that there may be circumstances when you are not comfortable reporting the issue in this manner. It is for such circumstances that we have partnered with EthicsPoint. We would rather you report anonymously than keep the information to yourself.

Does the university really want me to report

We certainly do. In fact, we need you to report. You know what is going on in your area – both good and bad. You may have initial knowledge of an activity that may be a cause for concern. Your reporting can minimize the potential negative impact on MSU and its people.

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 productive environment.

Does management really want me to report

We certainly do. In fact, we need you to report. You know what is going on at MSU - both good and bad. You may have initial knowledge of an activity that may be cause for concern. Your reporting can minimize the potential negative impact on the university and our people.

Where do these reports go? Who can access them

Reports are entered directly on the EthicsPoint secure server to prevent any possible breech in security. EthicsPoint makes these reports available only to specific individuals within the university who are charged with evaluating the report, based on the type of violation and location of the incident. Each of these report recipients has had training in keeping these reports in the utmost confidence.

Can I file a report from home and still remain anonymous

A report from home, a neighbor’s computer, 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 EthicsPoint 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 cube next to Jan Smith…” or “In my 33 years…”

Is the telephone toll-free hot line confidential and anonymous too

Yes. You will be asked to provide the same information that you would provide in an Internet-based report and an interviewer will type your responses into the EthicsPoint Web site. These reports have the same security and confidentiality measures applied to them during delivery.

What if I want to be identified with my report

There is a section in the report for identifying yourself, if you wish.

Can students and the public participate by reporting through the MSU Ethics Line

Yes. Any person may report questionable or unethical behavior, or offer a great suggestion for improvement.

I am aware of some individuals involved with unethical conduct, but it doesn't affect me. Why should I bother reporting it

Mississippi State University chooses to promote ethical behavior. All unethical conduct, at any level, ultimately hurts the university and all of the MSU family, including you. You only have to consider what happened in recent corporate scandals to see the disastrous effects that a seemingly harmless lapse in ethics can have on an otherwise healthy company. So if you know of any incidents of misconduct or ethical violations, consider it your duty to yourself and your fellow bulldogs to report it.

I am not sure if what I have observed or heard is a violation of MSU policy, or involves unethical conduct, but it just does not look right to me. What should I do

File a report. EthicsPoint can help you prepare and file your report so it can be properly understood. We'd rather you report a situation that turns out to be harmless than let possible unethical behavior go unchecked because you weren't sure.

What if my supervisor or other administrators are involved in a violation? Won’t they get the report and start a cover-up

The EthicsPoint system and report distribution are designed so that implicated parties are not notified or granted access to reports in which they have been named.

What if I remember something important about the incident after I file the report? Or what if the company has further questions for me concerning my report

When you file a report at the EthicsPoint Web site or through the EthicsPoint Call Center, 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 representative and add further information that will help resolve open issues. We strongly suggest that you return to the site in 72 hours to answer questions submitted by the university representative. You and MSU now have entered into an “anonymous dialogue” where situations are not only identified but can be resolved, no matter how complex.

Are these follow-ups on reports as secure as the first one

All EthicsPoint correspondences are held in the same strict confidence as the initial report, continuing under the umbrella of anonymity.

Can I still file a report if I don’t have access to the Internet

You can file an EthicsPoint report from any computer that can access the Internet. You can file from home. Many public locations, including the public library, have Internet computers. If you don’t have access or are uncomfortable using a computer, you can call the EthicsPoint toll-free hotline 877-310-0424 which is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.