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1.1.1 University Code of Conduct

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Formerly Known As Policy Number: 

This Guide Memo defines the University's Code of Conduct.


This Guide Memo was approved by the President.


The Code applies to these groups of people, referred to as "members of the Stanford University Community":

  • Individuals who are paid by Stanford University when they are working for the University—this category includes faculty, staff and students;
  • When required by contract, consultants, vendors, and contractors when they are doing business with the University;
  • Individuals who perform services for the University as volunteers and who assert an association with the University; and
  • Students.

1. Introduction and Purpose

a. Introduction
As members of the Stanford University community, all faculty, staff, students, members of the Board of Trustees, University Officers and affiliates are responsible for sustaining the highest ethical standards of this institution, and of the broader community in which we function. The University values integrity, honesty and fairness and strives to integrate these values into its teaching, research and business practices.

b. Purpose
In that spirit, this Code (the "Code") is a shared statement of our commitment to upholding the ethical, professional and legal standards we use as the basis for our daily and long-term decisions and actions. We all must be cognizant of and comply with the relevant policies, standards, laws and regulations that guide our work. We are each individually accountable for our own actions and, as members of the University community, are collectively accountable for upholding these standards of behavior and for compliance with all applicable laws and policies.

c. Violations
Adherence to this Code also makes us responsible for bringing suspected violations of applicable standards, policies, laws or regulations to the attention of the appropriate cognizant office. Raising such concerns is a service to the University and does not jeopardize one's position or employment. Confirmed violations will result in appropriate disciplinary action up to and including termination from employment or other relationships with the University. In some circumstances, civil and criminal charges and penalties may apply.

d. Questions
Direct any questions regarding the intent or applicability of this Code to the Director of Institutional Compliance or the Office of the General Counsel .

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2. Standards of Integrity and Quality

Stanford recognizes that it must earn and maintain a reputation for integrity that includes, but is not limited to, compliance with laws and regulations and its contractual obligations. Even the appearance of misconduct or impropriety can be very damaging to the University. Stanford must strive at all times to maintain the highest standards of quality and integrity.

Frequently, Stanford's business activities and other conduct of its community members are not governed by specific laws or regulations. In these instances, rules of fairness, honesty, and respect for the rights of others will govern our conduct at all times.

In addition, each individual is required to conduct University business transactions with the utmost honesty, accuracy and fairness. Each situation needs to be examined in accordance with this standard. No unethical practice can be tolerated because it is "customary" outside of Stanford or that it serves other worthy goals. Expediency should never compromise integrity.

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3. Confidentiality and Privacy

Community members receive and generate on behalf of the University various types of confidential, proprietary and private information. It is imperative that each community member complies with all federal laws, state laws, agreements with third parties, and University policies and principles pertaining to the use, protection and disclosure of such information, and such policies apply even after the community member's relationship with Stanford ends.

Information on the University's "Principles of Privacy" or specific privacy laws, such as the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA—student records); Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA—personal health information); California Civil Code section 1798.85 (Social Security numbers); and Civil Code section 3426 (trade secrets) may be obtained from the Office of the General Counsel.

Additionally, Administrative Guide Memo 6.2.1: Computer and Network Usage Policy and the Academic Policies and Statements, for students, govern any privacy rights of information stored on University computer systems.

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4. Conflict of Interest/Conflict of Commitment

Community members who are Stanford faculty and staff owe their primary professional allegiance to the University and its mission to engage in the highest level of education, patient care, research and scholarship. Outside professional activities, private financial interests or the receipt of benefits from third parties can cause an actual or perceived divergence between the University mission and an individual's private interests. In order to protect our primary mission, community members with other professional or financial interests shall disclose them in compliance with applicable conflict of interest/conflict of commitment policies, which are available on the following websites:

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5. Human Resources

Stanford University is an institution dedicated to the pursuit of excellence and facilitation of an environment that fosters this goal. Central to that institutional commitment is the principle of treating each community member fairly and with respect. To encourage such behavior, the University prohibits discrimination and harassment and provides equal opportunities for all community members and applicants regardless of their race, color, religious creed, national origin, ancestry, physical or mental disability, medical condition, marital status, sex, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, veteran status or any other characteristic protected by law. Where actions are found to have occurred that violate this standard the University will take prompt action to cease the offending conduct, prevent its recurrence and discipline those responsible. Find specific policies in support of this standard at these locations:

The University shall also comply with all laws and regulations governing the circumstances under which former United States military personnel may be employed or retained as consultants.

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6. Financial Reporting

All University accounts, financial reports, tax returns, expense reimbursements, time sheets and other documents, including those submitted to government agencies must be accurate, clear and complete. All entries in University books and records, including departmental accounts and individual expense reports, must accurately reflect each transaction. See Administrative Guide Memos 3.1.1: Responsibility for University Financial Assets and 3.1.4: Cost Policy.

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7. Compliance with Laws

Members of the University community must transact University business in compliance with applicable laws, regulations, and University policy and procedure. Managers and supervisors are responsible for teaching and monitoring compliance. When questions arise pertaining to interpretation or applicability of policy, contact the individual who has oversight of the policy. Refer all unresolved questions and/or interpretation of laws and regulations to the Office of General Counsel. University-wide policy documents can be found here

a. Contractual Obligations
The acceptance of an agreement, including sponsored project funding, may create a legal obligation on the part of Stanford University to comply with the terms and conditions of the agreement and applicable laws and regulations. Therefore, only individuals who have authority delegated by an appropriate University official can enter into agreements on behalf of the University. See Administrative Guide Memo 5.1.1: Procurement Policies.

b. Environmental Health & Safety, including Workplace Health and Safety
Members of the University community must be committed to protecting the health and safety of its members by providing safe workplaces. The University will provide information and training about health and safety hazards, and safeguards. Community members must adhere to good health and safety practices and comply with all environmental health and safety laws and regulations. See Stanford Health and Safety Training Policies.

c. Non-University Professional Standards
Some professions and disciplines represented at the University are governed by standards and codes specific to their profession (such as attorneys, certified public accountants, and medical doctors). Those professional standards generally advance the quality of the profession and/or discipline by developing codes of ethics, conduct, and professional responsibility and standards to guide their members. Those belonging to such organizations are expected to adhere to University policies and codes of conduct in addition to any professional standards. If a community member believes there is a conflict between a professional standard and University policy, he/she should contact the Office of the General Counsel.

d. Academic Policies
See "Academic Policies and Statements" on the Stanford Bulletin website for academic policies.

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8. Use of University Resources

University resources must be reserved for business purposes on behalf of the University. They may not be used for personal gain, and may not be used for personal use except in a manner that is incidental, and reasonable in light of the employee's duties. University resources include, but are not limited to, the use of University systems (e.g., telephone systems, data communication and networking services) and the Stanford domain for electronic communication forums; the use of University equipment (e.g., computers and peripherals, University vehicles); the use of procurement tools such as purchasing cards and petty cash; and, the time and effort of staff, students and others at Stanford.

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9. Reporting Suspected Violations

a. Reporting to Management
Members of the Stanford community should report suspected violations of applicable laws, regulations, government contract and grant requirements or this Code. This reporting should normally be made initially through standard management channels, beginning with the immediate supervisor, instructor or advisor. If for any reason it is not appropriate to report suspected violations to the immediate supervisor (e.g., the suspected violation is by the supervisor) individuals may go to a higher level of management within their school or department.

b. Other Reporting
All violations of laws or regulations should be reported internally to the Compliance and Ethics Helpline or (650) 721-COMP (721-2667), or to the Office of the General Counsel at (650) 723-9611.

You may report any suspected violations of rules regarding federal funds to the Department of Defense Fraud, Waste, and Abuse Hotline at (800) 424-9098.

You may report any suspected violations of state or federal statutes, rules or regulations to the California Attorney General's Whistleblower Hotline at (800) 952-5225.

c. Confidentiality
Such reports may be made confidentially, and even anonymously, although the more information given, the easier it is to investigate the reports. Raising such concerns is a service to the University and does not in itself jeopardize employment.

d. Cooperation
All employees are expected to cooperate fully in the investigation of any misconduct.

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