Posted December 1, 2015
A website and hotline was launched this summer by the UW System that provides students, staff and faculty an anonymous way to report fraud, waste and a variety of other offenses and misconduct.
Ray Cross, president of the UW System, said in a video posted on the university’s YouTube channel that the website and hotline were launched to help people do the right thing.
“It is designed to be an easy, anonymous way for our students, our staff, and our faculty to report something they believe to wasteful or wrong,” Cross said.
The program is run by The Network, a Norcross, Georgia, company that specializes in helping companies and organizations maintain ethical cultures.
At UW-River Falls, Beth Schommer, executive assistant to the chancellor, said she does not see a significant volume of cases involving waste, fraud or misconduct on campus.
“What I think that the hotline provides is it helps create a culture of accountability,” Schommer said. “And it provides tools for people who wants to have a safe place to show their concerns.”
Schommer said she can only think of one case that has been reported through the hotline that might possibly not fit the definition of misconduct.
“But in any case, it’s clearly a concern, and it’s clearly the responsibility of the campus to look into it regardless of how tightly you try to define those terms,” she said.
James Graham, chair of Faculty Senate, said there could be a fear of over-reporting of offenses over the confusing definitions of certain issues combined with the anonymous nature.
“When we talk about what is fraud, what is waste, and then having anonymous reporting, each individual has their own definition, so in theory it could get overuse,” Graham said.
He said he still believes the program has its place at UWRF and throughout the UW System.
“I think having some form of oversight is not a disadvantage,” Graham said. “As long as people are being responsible with what is provided to them as part of their job, it shouldn’t be a problem.”
Schommer agreed, saying it does not hurt to have a program like this, citing again how it demonstrates accountability as a system.
She says the creation of the hotline and website could have stemmed from political pressure of Wisconsin state legislators, which could have created a public discontent towards the UW System. She mentioned the new online accountability dashboard that was set up and launched in September by the UW System with the help of legislators from Wisconsin.
“I think that now there is a concerted effort to demonstrate,” Schommer said, “on a variety of levels, that hey, we’re actually a really accountable place.”