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University Code of Conduct

Policy No. Issue Date Effective Date

1.0 Policy Purpose

Brown University is an institution of higher education dedicated to the highest ethical standards in pursuit of its mission. The Code of Conduct (Code) is a shared statement of the individual and collective commitment of members of the Brown community to upholding the ethical, professional and legal standards we use as the basis for our daily and long-term decision-making and actions.

2.0 To Whom the Policy Applies

The Code applies to all members of the Brown community. For purposes of this Code, Brown community members are: members of the Corporation of Brown University; faculty, instructors and postdoctoral scholars; staff; undergraduate, graduate, and medical students; visiting scholars; volunteers; and sponsored-ID holders.

3.0 Policy Statement

Members of the Brown community are responsible for sustaining the highest ethical standards of the University, and of the broader community in which they function. The University values integrity, honesty and fairness, and strives to integrate these values into its teaching, research and business activities.

Brown community members must be cognizant of, and comply with, the relevant policies, standards, laws and regulations that guide their work. Each member of the Brown community is individually accountable for their own actions, and all community members are collectively accountable for upholding the standards of behavior set forth in this Code and for compliance with all applicable laws and policies. The following are the primary principles that the University expects Brown community members to uphold.

3.1 We Respect Academic Freedom and the Freedom of Expression and Inquiry

Brown University maintains, on behalf of its community, that academic freedom is essential to the function of education and to the pursuit of scholarship in universities and, mindful of its historic commitment to scholarship and to the free exchange of ideas, affirms that members of the community shall enjoy full freedom in their teaching, learning, and research. This includes freedom of religious belief; of speech; of press; of association and assembly; of political activity inside and outside the University; the right to petition the authorities, the public and the University; to invite speakers of their choice to the campus; and that students and faculty members as such should not be required to take any oath not required of other citizens. The time, place and manner of exercising these rights on the campus shall be subject to reasonable regulation only to prevent interference with the normal functions of the University. The University’s commitment to academic freedom can be found in full in the Faculty Rules & Regulations, Part 5, Section 12.I.C.

3.2 We Treat Each Other with Respect and Dignity

Brown University is an institution dedicated to the pursuit of excellence and facilitation of an environment that fosters this goal. Central to this institutional commitment is the principle that each community member must treat other community members fairly and with respect and dignity. Also inherent with these expectations is that the University will not tolerate any instance of bullying behavior, or retaliation of any kind.

This commitment aligns directly with the Brown Corporation Policy Statement on Equal Opportunity, Nondiscrimination and Affirmative Action:

“Brown University provides equal opportunity and prohibits discrimination, harassment and retaliation based upon a person’s race, color, religion, sex, age, national or ethnic origin, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or any other characteristic protected under applicable law and caste which is protected under this policy, in the administration of its policies, programs, and activities. The University recognizes and rewards individuals on the basis of qualifications and performance.

The University maintains an affirmative action program in employment for minorities, women, persons with disabilities and veterans, and requires its employees to make good faith efforts to comply with the program. The University encourages those with whom it conducts business to meet the commitments of this important program.

3.3 We Act with Integrity

In order to ensure that the University can dedicate itself fully to its mission, it is expected that an individual’s personal integrity will be reflected not only in honest and responsible actions, but also in a willingness to provide direction to others whose actions may be harmful or counterproductive to themselves or the community. The University expects that members of the Brown community will be truthful and forthright; and will not engage in behavior that endangers their own sustained effectiveness or that has serious ramifications for the safety, health, well-being or professional obligations of the individual community members themselves or others.

3.3.1 We Comply with Laws and Regulations

The University, through its established policies and procedures, seeks to ensure that Brown community members carry out their responsibilities, duties and obligations consistent with legal and regulatory requirements and conduct themselves in the best interests of the University. It is the responsibility of each community member to comply with the applicable standards and requirements.

Managers and supervisors are also responsible for knowing the legal and regulatory requirements that pertain to their areas of oversight and responsibility. They are responsible for determining and ensuring that each community member has adequate knowledge of the applicable laws and regulations to perform their work correctly and receive appropriate training on an ongoing basis, as well as for communicating requirements, evaluating performance, and monitoring compliance. Managers and supervisors with questions about compliance should consult with the Office of the General Counsel, or University Compliance.

3.3.2 We Maintain the Confidentiality and Privacy of Information

Members of the Brown community receive and produce various types of confidential, proprietary and private information on behalf of the University. Access to confidential information should be limited to those who require it to discharge their duties. When confidential information is received, community members have a responsibility to maintain and safeguard this information and use it with consideration and ethical regard for others. Non-public information regarding the University must not be divulged to an outside party, or to those within the University, except for legitimate business, research or academic purposes. Members of the community must not directly exchange with another institution University information that includes prospective tuition, financial aid or salary plans.

A community member’s obligations regarding confidential information continues after their employment, academic, or other relationship with the University ends. It is imperative that all members of the University community comply with all laws, regulations, third-party contracts and University policies and procedures pertaining to the use, protection and disclosure of confidential information.

3.3.3 We Avoid and Disclose Conflicts of Interest and Commitment

All decisions and actions taken by members of the Brown community in the conduct of University business, research and teaching, must be done in a manner that promotes the best interests of the University. Community members have an obligation to address both the substance and the appearance of conflicts of interest and commitment and, if they arise, to disclose them according to the University Conflict of Interest and Commitment Policy, the Non-Fraternization Policy, and related policies and guidelines. Individuals must also withdraw from deliberations, voting or other decision-making processes where a conflict of interest exists or might arise.

3.3.4 We Maintain and Report Complete and Accurate Financial Information

Members of the Brown community are required to adhere to University policies for financial accounts, reports, expense reimbursements, time and effort submissions, and other transactions and documents. Requirements include maintaining accurate books, records and University financial reports to reflect complete and accurate information.

3.3.5 We Follow Signatory Authority Delegations

Accepting an agreement or contract, including sponsored project funding, may create a legal obligation on the part of the University. This requires compliance with the terms and conditions of the agreement as well as applicable laws and regulations. Therefore, only those community members possessing authority delegated by an appropriate University official may enter into agreements or contracts on behalf of the University. Community members who do not have this delegated authority cannot sign agreements.

3.3.6 We Ensure a Healthy and Safe Environment

Each community member has a shared responsibility to ensure a safe workplace and to protect the health and safety of all who work, study and live at Brown, as well as of visitors. This means adhering to health and safety policies and practices; complying with all environmental, health and safety laws, regulations and related University policies; attending required training; and reporting unsafe conditions, equipment or practices through appropriate reporting mechanisms.

Members of the Brown community must also adhere to all applicable environmental laws and commit to maintaining the necessary environmental permits and approvals. Environmental compliance also includes the proper handling, storage, use, shipment and disposal of all materials that are regulated under applicable environmental law.

3.3.7 We Follow Professional Standards

Some professions and disciplines are governed by standards and codes specific to their profession (such as attorneys, certified public accountants and medical doctors). These 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. If individual community members belong to such organizations, they are expected to adhere to University policies and this Code of Conduct, in addition to any professional standards.

3.3.8 We Speak Up and Appropriately Report Suspected Violations

Community members are expected to report suspected violations of applicable laws, regulations, government contracts and grant requirements, and of this Code of Conduct. In some situations, mandatory reporting is required. For faculty, staff and students, this reporting should initially be made through standard reporting channels, beginning with their immediate supervisor, or relevant dean, administrator, instructor, or advisor. If for any reason it is not appropriate to report suspected violations to these individuals (e.g., the suspected violation is by the supervisor), community members should go to their supervisor’s supervisor or through other existing reporting mechanisms (such as reporting allegations of inappropriate workplace behavior to University Human Resources).

Brown community members can also report suspected violations online or by telephone through the University’s Anonymous Reporting Hotline. This Hotline is hosted by a third-party service provider and is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Report information is gathered by the third-party service provider and referred to the office of University Risk Management, Audit and Compliance, which reviews the report and determines the appropriate manner to address it, in accordance with applicable University policies and procedures. Brown community members should report suspected crimes to the Department of Public Safety (401-863-4111, Silent Witness Form). Also, Brown University community members can report discrimination and harassment complaints to the Office of Equity Compliance and Reporting at

The University expects that all reports will be made in a good faith effort to address legitimate issues needing correction, or to otherwise provide reliable information. Retaliation is not permitted against anyone for reporting in good faith.

3.3.9 We Cooperate Fully

All Brown community members must commit to cooperate fully with any audit, inquiry or investigation undertaken at Brown’s direction by its attorneys, investigators, internal auditors or independent public accountants.

3.4 We Respect the Use of University Resources and Property

Each member of the Brown community commits to respect and conserve the general and information technology resources and property of the University. These resources and property are assets in which all community members have a vested interest, as they specifically support the University’s mission.

More specifically, these consist of real property, personal property and intellectual property, which includes, but is not limited to: University equipment and tools, communications systems, assets and solutions; technology; software and service licensing; procurement cards; databases containing personal information; patents, trademarks and copyright; and vehicles. It also includes the time and effort of faculty, staff, students and others at Brown, and those resources purchased/paid with University funds, including funds received through government or other external funding sources.

Use of University resources, with the exception of incidental and/or intermittent use of computing resources and cellular devices, in accordance with related policies, is primarily reserved for business purposes on behalf of the University. The use of University resources for personal gain or advantage, or for the benefit or gain of any other individual or outside entity (including organizations in which individuals have a vested interest) is strictly prohibited. Community members may not use the University name and/or visual identity (logos or associated images or word marks), other than in the context of their Brown responsibilities.

4.0 Definitions


5.0 Responsibilities

All individuals to whom this policy applies are responsible for becoming familiar with and following this policy. University supervisors are responsible for promoting the understanding of this policy and for taking appropriate steps to help ensure compliance with it.

Brown employees will periodically be asked to read and sign the Code of Conduct Compliance Certification attesting to their commitment to adhere to the University Code of Conduct. Other members of the Brown community may be subject to, and expected to follow, established attestation requirements applicable to them, including but not limited to those that may be required by Faculty Rules and Regulations, Student Code of Conduct, Academic Code, Graduate Student Edition, and Medical Student Handbook and related attestations.

Adherence to this University Code of Conduct also makes Brown community members responsible for bringing suspected violations of applicable standards, policies, laws or regulations to the attention of the appropriate University office. Raising a concern in good faith is a service to the University and does not jeopardize one’s position, employment, enrollment or academic standing.

6.0 Consequences for Violating this Policy

Enforcement of the Code of Conduct will follow appropriate (e.g., staff, faculty, student) disciplinary processes. Failure to comply with this Code and related policies is subject to disciplinary action, up to and including suspension without pay, or termination of employment or association with the University, in accordance with applicable (e.g., staff, faculty, student) disciplinary procedures, or for non-employees may result in the suspension or revocation of the user’s relationship with Brown University. In some circumstances, civil and criminal charges and penalties may apply.

7.0 Related Information

Brown University is a community in which employees are encouraged to share workplace concerns with University leadership. As noted in section 3.3.8, Brown’s Anonymous Reporting Hotline allows anonymous and confidential reporting on matters of concern online or by phone (877-318-9184).

The following information complements and supplements this document. The information is intended to help explain this Code and is not an all-inclusive list of policies, procedures, laws and requirements.

7.2 Related Procedures


7.3 Related Forms


7.4 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


7.5 Other Related Information

Policy Owner and Contact(s)

Policy Owner: Executive Vice President for Planning and Policy

Policy Approved by: President

Contact Information:

Policy History

Policy Issue Date:

Policy Effective Date:

Policy Update/Review Summary:

Formatted in accordance with the University Policy Template. Prior version superseded by this version:

  • Code of Conduct, Last Reviewed Date: January 21, 2020



Webpage Updated February 28, 2024