Whistleblower Policy

Whistleblower Policy

Reviewed and Approved June 22, 2014 in compliance with the New York State Nonprofit Revitalization Act

St. Lawrence University (the “University”) is deeply committed to appropriately protecting its physical, financial and human resources.  It is the intent of the University to adhere to all applicable laws and regulations and the underlying purpose of this policy is to support the University’s goal of legal compliance. 

PURPOSE AND POLICY

The purpose of this Whistleblower Policy is to provide a channel through which employees or anyone else can report certain suspected improper activities within the University.

These suspected improper activities are:

  • fraud, including questionable accounting, financial, transactional or auditing matters;
  • illegal activities, including noncompliance with a state or federal statute, regulation or policy; and
  • noncompliance with certain University policies as required under New York law.

The University’s internal controls and operating procedures are intended to detect and deter improper activities.  However, even the best systems of control cannot provide absolute safeguards against intentional and unintentional violations.

No one who reports a suspected improper activity in good faith shall be subject to retaliation, intimidation, discrimination, harassment or, in the case of an employee, adverse employment consequences. However, any allegations that prove not to be substantiated and that were made maliciously or with knowledge that such allegations were false will be viewed as a serious disciplinary offense.

REPORTING

Reports of allegations of suspected improper activities are encouraged, but not required, to be made in writing so as to assure a clear understanding of the issues raised.  Such reports should contain as much specific information as possible to allow for proper assessment. Anonymous concerns should provide sufficient evidence to justify the commencement of an investigation. 

If there is a suspected improper activity, employees and non-employees are encouraged to first report a concern to an immediate supervisor or other relevant body (such as the Academic Honor Council, a Department Chair or Program Director, the University Vice President and Academic Dean or the Vice President and Dean of Students) that is likely best situated to handle and resolve such a concern.  The supervisor or relevant body receiving any such reported concern shall prepare a summary of the concern and the resolution thereto, and submit the summary to the chair of the Audit Committee for the Audit Committee’s review. 

If an employee or non-employee is not comfortable utilizing the normal lines of communication outlined above, or is not satisfied with the response received or the resolution to a concern reported through such normal lines of communication, then a suspected improper activity may be reported through EthicsPoint at: https://secure.ethicspoint.com/domain/en/report_custom.asp?clientid=15637 or through the Positive Workplace Hotline at 1-888-485-2238.  Additionally, an individual may report suspected improper activity to the President and/or the chair of the Audit Committee. 

Once a report is filed in EthicsPoint or through the Positive Workplace Hotline, an email notification is automatically sent to the chair of the Audit Committee, the President, the Vice President of Finance and Treasurer, the Vice President of Community and Employee Relations, and the Associate Vice President of Finance.  Additionally, if the report involves an employment issue the Director of Human Resources for Labor Relations will be notified, and if the report involves a safety issue the Director of Risk Management will be notified.  However, if a report of a suspected improper activity involves any of the individuals named herein, then such person shall be excluded from any email notification.

Depending on the nature of the reported suspected improper activity, either the Vice President for Finance and Treasurer or the Vice President for Community and Employee Relations shall immediately direct that an investigation be undertaken and a report compiled.  Communications regarding the investigation and any resolution of the reported suspected improper activity shall be posted to EthicsPoint in a secure message only accessible to individuals with access to the original report.  The chair of the Audit Committee shall be kept apprised of all findings and resolutions related to all reported suspected improper activity and shall report on the same to the Audit Committee at the Audit Committee’s next regularly scheduled meeting.

If a suspected improper activity is reported directly to the President and/or the chair of the Audit Committee then the President and/or the chair of the Audit Committee shall immediately direct that an investigation be undertaken and a report compiled.  In the case of non-anonymous reports, the chair of the Audit Committee will notify the sender and acknowledge receipt of the concern within five business days.  The final report will be presented at the next meeting of the Audit Committee.   

AUDIT COMMITTEE

The Audit Committee shall have full authority to investigate suspected improper activities raised in accordance with this policy and may retain outside legal counsel, accountants, private investigators, or any other resource that the committee reasonably believes is necessary to conduct a full and complete investigation of the allegations.

The Committee is responsible for assuring:

  • the proper investigative channels are utilized;
  • that appropriate resources are brought to bear;
  • that there are no conflicts of interest on the part of any party involved;
  • that  allegations are timely and thoroughly addressed;
  • that the Board of Trustees receives a final report of the investigation with suggestions, if appropriate, for corrective and remedial action; and
  • that there is follow-up with the complainant.

ANNUAL DISTRIBUTION

The President of the University shall distribute this Whistleblower Policy annually to all officers, trustees, employees and volunteers who provide substantial service to the University (collectively “Covered Persons”).  Additionally, the University shall take measures to provide notice of this Whistleblower Policy beyond the Covered Persons named herein through its annual distribution to the University community, including, posting notifications in work areas and providing notices to new employees during any orientation activities.

CONFIDENTIALITY

Information may be submitted on a confidential basis by the complainant or may be submitted anonymously. Reports of violations or suspected violations and the source will be kept confidential, consistent with the need to conduct an adequate investigation.