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Student Ethics Code Launches for CBA Students

Wall Street, Fortune 500 Companies and businesses across the world continually discuss the importance of ethics in business. A group of University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Business Administration students decided to stop talking and start doing, writing a new student ethics code.

“The Student Advisory Board initiated the idea of a new honor code for CBA students. They wanted it to be something our students could rally around that would give them an advantage in the job market,” said Janice Lawrence, associate professor of accountancy and director of the business ethics program. Students plan an ethics code launch event beginning at 3:30 p.m. Feb. 14 in the Lied Center for Performing Arts at UNL. Fellow students can show their support, virtually, by signing the code through the Business Ethics program web site.

At the event, students who initiated the code will read it and explain to other students what the code means, and invite other students to sign the code either there or online.

CBA Dean Donde Plowman encouraged the students to take the initiative and make a stand.

“In Nebraska students arrive at the university with a set of values they have learned from childhood, and we encouraged students to use those values to help them develop a CBA Student Code of Conduct,” Plowman said.

Tessa Bright, a 2011 master in professional accounting graduate who helped coordinate the process with Lawrence and the Student Advisory Board last year, believes it is important to have an ethics code at CBA for students in the job market.

“It will tell recruiters and employers something about the culture here at CBA, and the values our students will bring to their work place,” said Bright, who now works at Grant Thornton in Minneapolis, Minn.

More than a year ago, a team of six undergraduate students formed an ethics committee and examined what constitutes an ethics code. Under Lawrence’s guidance, they researched the best practices of writing one and read the codes from other schools and businesses. They knew, however, if the code was going to represent the values and culture of UNL business students, it had to have broad student input.

“We surveyed hundreds of CBA students to discover which values were important to them. The data was analyzed with the help of finance professor, Dr. John Geppert. Once we had the information, we could finally start the process of writing the code,” Bright said.

After writing the first draft, the committee shared it with classes and student organizations to get feedback from students and faculty. The final draft was finished in November 2011.

Ethics committee member Kaitlin Coziahr, an economics and finance major from Omaha, sees a unifying quality for students that sign their name to the pledge.

“It sets a standard to which we, as students, will hold one another. Additionally, our signatures will demonstrate to business professionals that we do aspire to these beliefs and ethical values,” said Coziahr. “It lets current and future students know what is expected, the beliefs we hold, rather than just outlining a list of rules to follow.”
UNL College of Business Administration Student Ethics Code
  • We will accept responsibility for our actions and hold others accountable for theirs.
  • We will adhere to our moral principles in all situations and support others in doing the same.
  • We will be sincere and authentic in our communications and interactions with others. 
  • We will strive to create an environment of trust by being honorable and trustworthy.
  • We will learn and adhere to the ethical standards of our chosen professions.
  • We will strive for continuous learning by participating in the educational opportunities presented to us.
Respect and Compassion:
  • We will treat others with fairness, respect and compassion. 
  • We will create a culture of inclusiveness by welcoming the diversity in our ideas, beliefs and backgrounds.
Published: February 10, 2012