New Code of Conduct on Integrity from 1 November

New Code of Conduct on Integrity from 1 November

The Executive Board has adopted a new Code of Conduct on Integrity for staff. This new code encompasses all the existing regulations within Leiden University, including in the field of research, behaviour towards students and purchasing. 'This Code of Conduct is a very clear statement,' commented Rector Magnificus Carel Stolker.

The Executive Board has adopted a new Code of Conduct on Integrity for staff. This new code encompasses all the existing regulations within Leiden University, including in the field of research, behaviour towards students and purchasing. ‘This Code of Conduct is a very clear statement,’ commented Rector Magnificus Carel Stolker.

Code covers all aspects

In the past we have had a number of different regulations and codes of conduct relating to or touching on integrity. The Local Consultative Committee (comprising the unions and the Executive Board) felt that all these regulations should be looked at as a whole. Nicole van Os, chair of the employee delegation of the LCC remarked: ‘We wanted to know what we have and whether there were any gaps.’ The LCC and the Executive Board decided to draw up one overall Code of Conduct on Integrity, that sets out all the university’s instructions on the subject. This new Code of Conduct is therefore of necessity very broad and it covers all the different facets involved in academic enterprise. That means, of course, research and teaching but also how lecturers behave towards students, the use of university buildings and grounds, the purchasing of materials and services. These last two aspects, that were felt to be missing from previous regulations, have now been added.

From flowers to bouquet

‘We first had a bunch of flowers, and now we have a bouquet,’ is how Rector Magnificus Carel Stolker describes the new Code. ‘All our activities here are based on trust, both in academic terms and also in terms of our personal interactions. In general, people can rely on their intuition, but there are also grey areas where there’s room for doubt. That’s when it’s good to have a code to guide you; it can also offer protection. In every organisation there’s inequality in terms of power, and we can’t have a situation where any individual could be a victim of that inequality.’

Confidence in science under pressure

Stolker believes integrity is also important for confidence in the scientific world. ‘Fraudulent science is deadly for society’s confidence in us, in universities, and it takes a long time before you can win that trust back. The saying that ‘science is just an opinion’ is not something that Stolker endorses. ‘In science it’s all about facts and more facts, and then solid, verifiable analyses. Science has to remain a stronghold in which people can trust. For us, integrity is absolutely vital.’