“There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.”
-- Proverbs 14:12
This week I had the privilege of speaking at the Southern Association of College and University Business Officers (SACUBO) Fall Workshop about ethics in higher education. This is an important topic, and one I have covered regularly for various groups over the years, but it is always a challenging topic from a presentation standpoint.
As I developed this year's presentation, I was reminded how ethical issues permeate every category in Case in Point. When you look at some of the national scandals within higher education over the past few years, they all involve some level of ethical failure on the part of individuals and organizations. Admittedly, ethical discussions are much easier in the hypothetical conference setting than in the day-to-day pressures that arise and require quick, decisive action.
As a frequent speaker at conferences, I know that behavior is rarely (and likely never) changed via PowerPoint slides. Likewise, sharing the latest research on ethics and ethical decision making does very little to help when it is decision time on ethical issues. I have noticed however, that the power of story may have an occasional impact on behavior and learning.
This year I used a story to promote some self-reflection by those who attended SACUBO. I used the story of an attorney, Rashmi Airan, who ultimately wound up serving time in federal prison due to her ethical failure. The decisions she made, beginning with changing dates on documents for an important client, started off benign, but ethical decisions have a way of leading to places we never imagined. To watch Rashmi Airan's 13-minute Ted Talk click here: ''Against the Slippery Slope.''
While there are many questions we can ponder, the topic of ethical vigilance is important for all of us in higher education. Here are a few of the questions we discussed and reflected:
- Are there areas where you are currently taking short cuts or engaging in ethical patterns that would be questionable?
- Are you ever tempted to look the other way or stay silent if you see questionable ethical actions?
- Have you thought about your core values and ensuring your actions and decisions line up with these values?
- Do you have some place you can seek objective ethical counsel when faced with questions?
If you need ethical advice, OACP is here and happy to attempt in helping you navigate your situation. As you review the stories happening across higher education this month we again invite you to consider ways you can proactively manage risks and prevent problems. Every dollar we spend on risk management failure is a dollar not going to our primary mission of teaching, research and outreach. The mission is too important not to give this some thought. As always we welcome your comments and suggestions.
M. Kevin Robinson, CIA, CFE
Associate Vice President
Office of Audit, Compliance & Privacy
Information Security & Technology Events
Oct 27, 2017: A former University of Iowa wrestler has been arrested on federal computer-hacking charges in a high-tech cheating scheme in which he allegedly obtained advanced copies of tests and changed grades for himself and classmates. Trevor Graves, 22, carried out the scheme by secretly installing devices known as keyloggers in computers in university classrooms and labs that allowed him to record what his professors typed, including their credentials to log into university grading and email systems, according to the FBI. (link)
Oct 25, 2017: Facial recognition is becoming increasingly common in China, where it has been installed at ATM machines and KFC restaurants. Now the technology has arrived in university classrooms to track student attendance. Shen Hao, a professor with Communication University of China, is using facial recognition in his six courses to keep track of the attendance of more than 300 students. (link)
Oct 25, 2017: A number of Omaha parents are now upset about a recent data breach at Creighton University. An email was sent as a reminder for the upcoming ACT tests and sent to students and parents but accidentally contained student's first name, last name, social security numbers, grades, email address, phone numbers and date of birth. (link)
Oct 16, 2017: A recent hack of University of Kansas professors' personal information has faculty worried that an easily accessible hacking tool could have students tampering with private data on campuses everywhere.
The KU hacker was an engineering student who used a keystroke logger to pry into professors' computers and change all his failing grades to A's. (link)
Oct 11, 2017: Over the past 10 years, we have reported on countless retailers, credit bureaus, insurance companies and other businesses hit by hackers, with millions of customer data records breached. The IT security pros at Logicalis pose the question "What could be worse?" Well, there's a simple two-word answer, they say: Higher Education. The key problem for colleges and universities is that they collect very private and diverse kinds of data -- with everything from medical information to financial and credit card data -- and not just about students, but also their parents, and even emergency contacts. There are also applications, transcripts, disciplinary records, and other private information. (link)
Oct 06, 2017: The University of Regina is investigating the possibility that one or more students hacked into its computers in order to adjust grades. Officials are ''investigating irregularities in the grades of four classes in the Faculty of Engineering,'' Kim McKechney, associate VP of external relations, wrote in an email. He said the adjustment of grades appears to have happened sometime this summer. He said it was discovered in late August and the university took immediate action. (link)
Oct 06, 2017: Thousands of students at Cabrillo college received a notice of a data breach yesterday. On September 5, 2017, Cabrillo learned that an unauthorized person gained access to one of its servers. The school immediately disabled the server, began an investigation, and determined that the server contained a database that maintained student orientation information. The student orientation information included the students' names, dates of birth, email addresses, user names, and passwords used to access the orientation database, and in some instances Social Security numbers. (link)
Sep 30, 2017: The personal information of 1,581 students at North Carolina A&T State University was leaked following a ''data security incident.'' It happened on Tuesday when a faculty member within the College of Business and Economics accidentally emailed a file containing personal information to a group of students. ''I was shocked as well because you know especially with a big school like this, that's something they should specialize in as far as protecting our identities from fraud. So, I was shocked and I was little bit scared myself,'' said one of the students impacted. (link)
Fraud & Ethics Related Events
Oct 30, 2017: The co-chairs of the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics made one of their most blistering broadsides at the NCAA in years Monday, saying the association needs to change its rules regarding how it deals with allegations of academic fraud and be more aggressive in identifying potential corruption in college sports. Making the comments particularly striking is that they came from Arne Duncan, a former Secretary of Education, and Carol Cartwright, who was a member of the NCAA Infractions Committee panel that recently handled the North Carolina academic scandal. (link)
Oct 18, 2017: A former student at Cornell University has pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of student loan fraud, according to the United States Attorney's Office. Cavya Chandra, 26, of Carmel, Ind., admitted she obtained admission to -- and attended -- three universities between 2008 and 2014 by forging various documents, including academic transcripts and letters of recommendation. (link)
Oct 06, 2017: A former instructor has been charged with embezzling more than $21,000 from Montana State University's Western Transportation Institute. According to charging documents: In May of 2016, an employee with WTI contacted the MSU Police Department about possible theft involving Jenkins. The employee monitored enrollment and revenue for WTI, which is a department in the MSU College of Engineering that teaches classes on transportation. The employee said she noticed that, dating back to July of 2014, WTI's revenue was not as high as it should have been (link)
Oct 06, 2017: The former director of financial aid at the Blake Austin College in Vacaville made a brief court appearance Thursday after previously pleading no contest to a felony embezzlement charge. Prosecutors backed out of that deal last month. A prosecutor explained Thursday that they came into Vandyne's court appearance in September believing the extent of his thievery amounted to $59,000. Since then, they have re-evaluated the extent of the loss to the college and now believe the college is out more than $138,000. (link)
Sep 30, 2017: A former College of DuPage employee has been sentenced to eight years in prison for stealing more than $400,000 from the west suburban college's radio station. John Valenta, 65, was an engineer at WDCB 90.9 FM for about 30 years, working on the college's campus in Glen Ellyn, according to the DuPage County state's attorney's office. (link)
Sep 30, 2017: A Medgar Evers College professor has been accused by the feds of running his own fake school in his real employer's name. Mamdouh Abdel-Sayed was charged on Friday with soliciting bribes, wire fraud, mail fraud and obstruction of justice, among other crimes, after a four-year scheme in which he essentially ran "his own fraudulent trade school," according to New York State Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott. (link)
Compliance/Regulatory & Legal Events
Oct 27, 2017: West Virginia mascot Troy Clemons was arrested for DUI, according to court records. The Monongalia County Sheriffs Department arrested him on Oct. 27. He was arraigned in Monongalia County Magistrate Court and released on a personal recognizance bond. According to his criminal complaint: A deputy stopped Clemons for speeding on Stewartstown Road. He failed field sobriety tests, and a preliminary breath test showed a .126 blood alcohol content, above the .08 legal driving limit. (link)
Oct 26, 2017: Auburn police have arrested a woman for stealing drugs from Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine. The arrest is a result of an investigation that began in early October when the thefts were reported to Auburn Police Division by the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine on Wire Road. The thefts of various types of controlled substances occurred over a period of several weeks. (link)
Oct 25, 2017: A ruling by Kentucky's attorney general says the University of Louisville violated the state's open records law by denying a newspaper's request for emails on the former university president's hard drive. (link)
Oct 25, 2017: A Methodist University professor was arrested this week on charges of possessing child pornography. Steven Phillip Brey, 53, of 5720 Danville Drive in Fayetteville, was charged with 18 counts of second-degree exploitation of a minor. Brey was arrested after the Cary Police Department received a tip about the case. Although Brey is a Fayetteville resident, Cary police were able to make the arrest because an internet crime does not have to take place within a department's jurisdiction. (link)
Oct 24, 2017: A 24-year-old student was charged with making a terroristic threat after allegedly posting on social media she was going to shoot people at Saginaw Valley State University, school officials say. Rebecca Merriweather, a Detroit-area resident, was arraigned Monday, Oct. 23, on one count of making a terrorist threat or false report of terrorism, a 20-year felony. (link)
Oct 23, 2017: An Ohio college student has pleaded guilty in the stabbing death of his roommate that police say happened after they argued over fast food.
University of Akron student Kendal Scheid pleaded guilty Monday to involuntary manslaughter in the death of 23-year-old Duncan Unternaher.
Police say the friends were drunk and got into an argument about fast food they were eating at their apartment last December. (link)
Oct 22, 2017: An associate and organizer of campus tours for white nationalist Richard Spencer sued Ohio State University in federal court on Sunday after school officials refused to rent campus space for Spencer to speak. The lawsuit comes after an attorney for the university sent a letter Friday to Spencer associate and Georgia State University graduate student Cameron Padgett that said while the school "values freedom of speech," the request to rent space for Spencer represents a "substantial risk to public safety." (link)
Oct 21, 2017: A St. Louis Community College professor was grabbed from behind by an officer, pulled to the ground, handcuffed and arrested at a college system board meeting after trying to object out of turn to rules laid out for the meeting. The college released video of the incident involving adjunct math professor Steve Taylor, who says he spoke out of turn after the board threatened to kick out anyone who clapped. (link)
Oct 20, 2017: A federal grand jury has issued subpoenas to universities that are part of a federal investigation into bribery, fraud and corruption in NCAA men's basketball as the scandal continues to overshadow the upcoming season. Oklahoma State University, Auburn University and former University of Louisville men's basketball coach Rick Pitino all have confirmed receiving subpoenas. (link)
Oct 17, 2017: A University of Missouri graduate has been charged with driving onto the school's basketball court this summer and causing more than $100,000 in damage. Investigators say the man drove a Volkswagen Passat through a closed gate on the south side of Mizzou Arena. He then then entered the basketball arena by driving up a ramp and through a loading dock door. (link)
Oct 16, 2017: The weight of an NCAA investigation was lifted from the shoulders of the University of North Carolina athletes, faculty, staff and fans on Oct. 13. But the media, and the collective college sports community, had few kind words in the wake of the ruling. The NCAA was considering questionable classes that enrolled many scholarship athletes and allegedly helped keep student athletes eligible. The NCAA ruled that ''while student athletes likely benefited from the courses, so did the general student body. Additionally, the record did not establish that the university created and offered the courses as part of a systemic effort to benefit only student athletes.'' (link)
Oct 13, 2017: The National Collegiate Athletic Association will not punish the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill after it created fake courses in which students were given credit despite never attending classes, and no faculty members ever taught them. The association announced on Friday it couldn't conclude that the ''paper classes'' in the Department of African and Afro-American Studies benefited just the athletes and thus they weren't considered a violation of NCAA rules. (link)
Oct 11, 2017: Louisiana police have announced arrest warrants for 10 people accused of a role in forcing a university student to drink himself to death last month. All the suspects are affiliated with the social club that police say 18-year-old Maxwell Gruver was attempting to join when he died. One Louisiana State University student is charged with negligent homicide and nine others are charged with hazing. (link)
Oct 09, 2017: Police have confirmed alleged shooter Hollis Daniels has been taken into custody after reportedly killing a Texas Tech Police officer during a shooting that left the university campus on lockdown on Monday night. Officers were reportedly performing a wellness check on Daniels while on campus when, upon entering his room, officers reportedly found evidence of drugs along with drug paraphernalia, according to a statement by Texas Tech spokesman Chris Cook. When Daniels was brought into the department for questioning, he reportedly pulled a gun and shot an officer in the head before fleeing on foot. It is unclear if Daniels had the weapon on him upon entering the campus police station. (link)
Campus Life & Safety Events
Oct 31, 2017: The College of Charleston launches investigation into photos of students in racially charged costumes. In one of them, a person is shown wearing an orange jumpsuit with the name ''Freddie Gray'' attached. Gray was a 25-year-old African-American who was injured while in the custody of the Baltimore Police Department in 2015. The injury resulted in his death. (link)
Oct 26, 2017: Students are sleeping in the Reed College administration building in protest of the school's primary bank. The group Reedies Against Racism is demanding that the school stop banking with Wells Fargo.According to the group, about 25 people have been sleeping in the administration building for the past two days. (link)
Oct 11, 2017: ''[Students are] still dying and still getting sexually assaulted and still getting traumatically injured -- and for reasons the fraternity industry could control but chooses not to,'' says Doug Fierberg, a lawyer who has represented dozens of families in wrongful death and injury lawsuits against fraternities. To critics, the string of recent deaths raises the question of why it's so hard to reform Greek life in a way that ensures student safety. The answer begins with deep-pocketed fraternity alumni who fondly remember the traditions of their fraternity days and now hold sway over their alma maters. (link)
Oct 10, 2017: University of Hawaii students reportedly opened their inbox Monday to find an email headlined: ''In the event of a nuclear attack'' -- an ominous message sent as North Korea continues to threaten a missile attack on the United States. The email to students and faculty members gave instructions to ''shelter in place'' if a nuclear or ballistic missile attack by Kim Jong Un's regime did occur, Hawaii News Now reported, citing a copy of the message. (link)
Oct 08, 2017: University of Montana professor Tobin Miller Shearer, director of the African-American studies program, said he noticed something was wrong right away Thursday morning, Sept. 28, as he passed the bulletin board in the Liberal Arts building on campus. The day before, Shearer had posted a flyer outlining a new class he is offering in the spring: ''White Supremacy History/Defeat.'' But on that Thursday morning, another sign -- designed to look just like Shearer's poster -- had been put up atop his, this one detailing a fictitious course, ''Black Nationalism History/Defeat.'' (link)
Oct 07, 2017: Bitcoin has been used to buy homes, and countries like Venezuela and Vietnam are beginning to truly embrace the currency. Now, certain universities are adopting the payment method of bitcoin for tuition, albeit with a few caveats. The Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts in Switzerland announced the decision to accept bitcoin payments this week, saying it is an indication of ''its ability to disseminate knowledge on cutting-edge technologies such as blockchain, as well as its desire to gain experience in the practical aspects of this novel area.'' The university offers courses focused on financing, economics, music, and more, meaning it was really only a matter of time before it invited bitcoin inside its walls. (link)
Oct 05, 2017: Southern Methodist University has a suspended a fraternity for allegations it forced members to wear vomit-covered clothes and eat hot peppers. University officials said the suspension of Kappa Alpha stems from a hazing investigation from the spring semester. (link)
Other News & Events
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