The Advocate

Hotline assures transparency

By Michael Santone, Editor-In-Chief

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To ensure Contra Costa Community College District’s commitment to ethical standards, Chancellor Fred Wood sent out a districtwide email on Sept. 25 highlighting the “4CD Confidential Hotline.”
“We wanted to be sure everyone knew about (the hotline),” Wood said in regard to the email sent out to administrators, faculty and staff at the three district colleges and the District Office in Martinez.
“I guess (information about the hotline) had not been sent for quite a while and back when I was working at the university level we did it on an annual basis. So I thought I better get this thing out there.”
Located on the district’s website, www.4cd.edu, the anonymous reporting site is available to faculty, staff and students to report fraud, waste or abuse of public dollars and district resources, academic misconduct, or sexual harassment and misconduct.
Anonymous messages can be sent either online through the website or reported by phone.
Wood said his email was intended to be a reminder of district policies after the resignation of Board of Governors President Timothy Farley in March amid accusations of sexual harassment. In that case, an internal district investigation found the accuser’s claims to be credible.
“We wanted to send the message that it’s very important to us at the district to have ethical standards and for people to be proud of working here,” Wood said. “If you see something that you have a concern about, we want you to know that we care. We want to have a strong ethical organization that cares about students and spends its money wisely.”
The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges requires all institutions to make readily available a means for establishing a governance process to receive and address complaints from employees and the public.
Since establishing the hotline in 2012, the district has been under contract with EthicsPoint Inc., which creates open channels of communication that the district can use to promote positive work and educational environments and to maximize productivity.
The annual cost for the district to have access to the hotline is just over $3,600.
CCC District Director of Internal Audit Services Vito Hite, who has been with the district since 2015, said as long as he has been monitoring the anonymous hotline, he has only received online complaints.
“I monitor (each business day) the hotline complaints received, and manage the assurance that due diligence is provided to look into each compliant received,” he said. “Depending on the nature of the complaint allegations received, it may require support from human resources, Police Services or college administrators (typically vice presidents of instruction, student services, or business and administration).”
Hite said on average he receives about two complaints per month and each report can take about 14 calendar days to process and complete.
Complaints can be submitted online through Navex Global, which is EthicsPoint’s hotline platform, or to the telephone operators.
Key information such as the name and location of the college, the primary issue, the identity of the person involved and a description of the complaint is required to begin the process.
“The (vendors) then transcribe the information received into the electronic complaint system, which I have access (log on ID, password) to view,” Hite said. “I believe complainants are less intimidated when anonymously entering their complaint online, as opposed to a phone call, where they might think the call could be traced to their name.”
Political science major Jazmine Caldron said she was unaware of any type of anonymous hotline for faculty, staff or students, but thinks it’s a great idea.
“I think it’s important to have a way for (people on campus) to report situations they don’t feel comfortable about or maybe they are concerned about,” Caldron said. “There’s a lot going on today, like sexual harassment and people abusing power.”

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The Student Voice Of Contra Costa College, San Pablo, Calif.
Hotline assures transparency