On behalf of the University Council, Ana Uribe Sandoval was closely involved in developing the code. “When I came to work here, I’d often hear people telling each other to act normal. But what is normal? Not everyone has the same idea of what is normal, and views are constantly changing. Ten years ago, you could make a sexist or racist comment here without anyone saying anything.” Nor had much been written about the values of the academic community. For years, there was only a short document which had barely been updated since 2002.
The new Code of Integrity is much more detailed. The 32-page document summarises the values of Erasmus University: ‘Erasmians’ are engaged, global citizens, bridge builders, enterprising and open-minded. The code of basic principles is derived from these values: reliable, respectful, transparent, and cooperative.
In many places, the code also refers to more specific regulations, for example about research integrity, use of ICT facilities or personal relationships. “As such, this code also provides a kind of structure to these regulations, an overarching document containing all the various regulations.”
Disadvantaged by a relationship
For Uribe Sandoval, the regulation for personal relationships is one of the most important new sections of the new code. “This is a serious issue. I know various EUR colleagues who felt disadvantaged at work due to an existing or former relationship, both on a personal and professional level. Job candidates wonder how and whether they should mention incidents or relationships during interviews, and how mentioning it will affect their chances of getting a new or better position. These regulations provide more clarity about what you should mention and to whom.”
Various members of the University Council helped write the code, says Uribe Sandoval, including herself. She feels it is very important that the council played a role. “Our university’s mission is creating positive societal impact. But how can you impact society if you don’t first have an impact on your own community?” This document helps, in a positive way: “It’s not a document of rules and sanctions. It reflects who we are and what we are striving to achieve.”
The code could have provided direction for recent sensitive issues, such as the e-mail survey among employees in her faculty, the racist messages in a student WhatsApp group, or the sexual violence against a female ESHCC student, Uribe Sandoval feels. “There are no easy answers, but it gives a framework that people can fall back on. For example, it says ‘We are transparent’, so using this code you can also say: but you were supposed to be so transparent?”
Uribe Sandoval is glad that we now have the document. “But it’s a living document that must be updated. I’m sure it will soon need additions.”