Proposed code of conduct divides employees over its intentions

Lakeidra Chavis/Sun Star Reporter
April 17, 2012

Sleeping and reading at work may soon need supervisor approval.

On March 26, University of Alaska employees were sent a draft of the employee code of conduct issued by UA President Gamble.

UA President Patrick Gamble issued the code, which reminds employees of the dos and don’ts in the workplace.

“I think it’s important that people understand what the expectations are and I think getting the code out there for people to discuss gives us a starting point,” UAF Chancellor Brian Rogers said.

The draft was completed on March 26 and is currently available to staff and faculty for feedback. It pertains to all University of Alaska employees. The proposed code of conduct tells employees what is expected of them in the workplace.

The draft admonishes inappropriate behavior  such as inattention to performance, unsatisfactory performance, insubordination, absenteeism, dishonesty, theft, harassment and personal misconduct. Unauthorized sleeping, reading or inappropriate internet usage and fighting on the job are also included in the draft.

Some UAF faculty voiced opinions of the proposed draft.

“I looked at some of the things, some of the issues that were covered and some of the things were common sense to me,” said Cara Hollingsworth, director of Leadership, Involvement and Volunteer Experience. Hollingsworth realized that everybody interprets things differently and it is good to have the expectations clear, she said.

“As a faculty member, I was insulted,” said Jordan Titus, Chair and Professor of the Sociology Department. “I thought that it reflected a lack of understanding of the world of academia.”

Titus said that the language of the proposal is vague and potentially problematic because a lot of the language does not have a shared definition — not everyone can agree on the meaning of some words in the draft. Titus used “unauthorized reading” as an example. She did not know whether it suggested that she needed authorization to read, authorization for what she assigns her students to read or authorization to read outside of the workplace.

In a memorandum to University of Alaska employees on March 30, Gamble said that the character of the University of Alaska system is based on the actions of its employees.

“As members of a well regarded institution of higher learning, we must promote a culture of excellence, continuous improvement, and then act accordingly in the best interests of our students and the university community,” Gamble said.

“At least from what I read that’s sort of the purpose of the code of conduct,” Hollingsworth said, “to make sure everybody’s on the same page, as far as how we’re representing ourselves while we represent the university.”

Hollingsworth would have liked an explanation for the proposal and why it came out it when it did, she said.

The proposed code of conduct is available online and UAF employees are encouraged to submit their opinions. All comments will be anonymous.

Due to a large amount of employee responses, the deadline to submit comments was extended to April 20. The employee responses will be given to Gamble before May 1.

In the memorandum, Gamble wrote,”Natural forces at work will always tend to form silos. Silos don’t move. Teams working together form bigger teams. Teams move…good teams win!

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