School of Nursing

December 4, 2017

Ethics, Integrity and Community in the School of Nursing

Azita Emami

I encourage you to read the letter below from Lisa Graumlich, dean of the UW College of the Environment. It elaborates on what President Ana Mari Cauce said about sexual misconduct in her November 20 email.

Sexual misconduct is professional misconduct and it can be career-ending. Sexual misconduct is part of a continuum of unacceptable behaviors that includes bullying and other verbal harassment, abuses of power, intimidation, threats, and coercion.

As a majority-female profession, nursing is in a special position on this issue. We must not be silent victims, silent witnesses, accomplices, or perpetrators. Treating all people equally and respectfully is the very essence of our profession.

Dean Graumlich’s letter and the President’s email both contained lists of available resources. My hope would be that nobody in the SON will need them, but if you do, don’t hesitate to be part of the solution by using them.

As always, we can and should lead on this. Please join me in doing so. Help me create a community in which we can all feel comfortable, safe, and respected at all times.

From: Lisa J. Graumlich
Sent: Tuesday, November 28, 2017 10:52 AM
Subject: Ethics, Integrity and Community in the College of the Environment

Dear College of the Environment Community,

Recently, I heard science described as the team-iest of team sports. As a scientist and a dean, that resonated with me: When we tackle big, important questions, we do so as a community ranging in size from research groups of several people to large, International networks of scholars from allied disciplines. Science is a social enterprise, and integrity is the foundation of great science. We gain the trust of the public when we uphold high ethical standards in our research with integrity and transparency. We maintain the trust within our community when we treat each other with respect and hold each other accountable for our behavior in research and learning environments.

In the past year, issues of trust, integrity and ethics have surfaced in the form of sexual misconduct. After decades of near-silence, we are seeing case after high-profile case of unconscionable behavior by established scientists, behaviors that were allowed to persist while perpetrators were all-too-often sheltered by institutions. Often, scientists with power and prestige abuse their positions by targeting junior researchers, students or staff. The human faces of this particular violation of scientific ethics are legion; I have difficulty coming up with the names of female scientists who have not experienced sexual misconduct, including harassment and assault.

What can we do about sexual misconduct?

First, bring it out into the open. I applaud the many individuals who have shared their #MeToo stories as well as those who have asked probing questions about how a scientific culture that celebrates collegiality could allow this to occur. This opens the door to connect people with resources. At the UW, there are a range of support resources, including:

  • The UW offers free advocacy and support for students and employees through Confidential Advocates who provide a confidential place for individuals to seek support, information and assistance if you have experienced sexual assault, sexual harassment, intimate partner violence or stalking. The UW encourages individuals to report sexual misconduct and a confidential advocate ensures that individuals impacted by sexual misconduct understand their rights and what resources are available to them before making the decision to initiate a complaint.
  • SafeCampus is a resource for members of the UW community who become aware of situations that may involve sexual misconduct, including sexual assault, relationship violence, domestic violence, stalking and sexual harassment. If you become aware of such a circumstance — either because you witnessed something or someone disclosed to you — you should contact SafeCampus at 206-685-SAFE (7233). This line is open 24/7 and the professionals at SafeCampus will ensure that the impacted party receives the University’s resource guide as well as a referral to a confidential advocate.
  • The Sexual Assault Resources webpage provides UW community members impacted by sexual misconduct with resources, options and university policies and processes.
  • The Green Dot program works to prevent and reduce sexual assault and relationship violence by engaging and training students, faculty and staff to become active bystanders who step in, speak up, and interrupt potential acts of violence.
  • Students, faculty and staff can also report incidents of bias or suspected bias with the online Bias Reporting Tool, which can be submitted anonymously.

The UW’s response process to complaints may involve actions such as an investigation, disciplinary action or other consequences depending on the situation.

Because reporting can be a difficult and painful process, we must build a culture where anyone can speak out or demand justice without reprisal. I strongly feel that without a demonstrated, effective institutional commitment to addressing sexual misconduct, people who lack professional, financial or legal power may never feel safe breaking their silence.

Second, we must articulate and consistently live our standards. As President Cauce recently wrote, “…Our commitment to preventing violence and to properly investigating and addressing allegations is unwavering.” The American Geophysical Union’s newly revised ethics policy is clear on this issue: “…AGU opposes all forms of bullying including threatening, humiliating, coercive, or intimidating conduct that causes harm to, interferes with, or sabotages scientific activity and careers. Discrimination, harassment (in any form), and bullying create a hostile environment that reduces the quality, integrity, and pace of the advancement of science by marginalizing individuals and communities. It also damages productivity and career advancement, and prevents the healthy exchange of ideas.” As scientists, our fearless and steadfast commitment to doing good science must extend beyond the bench to the human side of our work. We cannot stand behind our work if the people involved were harmed by someone’s unethical behavior, or if we did not speak out.

Last, invest in our community by creating policies and practices that prevent and address sexual misconduct. I have asked Dr. Terryl Ross, the College’s Assistant Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, to work with faculty, staff and student leadership to ensure that all of us understand and can access the resources to prevent and address sexual misconduct. He will be collaborating with others to develop a comprehensive approach to create and communicate our plans. An example of work already under way is the Respect and Equity in Fieldwork task force, which has been tasked with reviewing our current policies and practices as they relate to field work, including reaching out to our field-going and campus resources on sexual harassment and assault for their input on addressing these issues. As part of their work, they are developing recommendations for protocols and guidelines focused on the particular challenges of harassment and assault in fieldwork situations.

If the national discussion has taught us anything, it’s that we are not there yet. The College and, I venture to say, all academic institutions have gaps in our efforts, and our work will be ongoing. Fortunately, we have many strong, dedicated community members who are doing the work every day. Let us view this time as an opportunity to continue building a more inclusive, equitable culture where integrity is a cornerstone in all that we do together. Trust is the social glue that binds our community together and underpins our success. It’s up to each of us to build and sustain it.


Lisa J. Graumlich
Dean | Mary Laird Wood Professor
College of the Environment
University of Washington
Ocean Sciences Building, Suite 200
Seattle, WA 98195-5355
206-221-0908 (Andrea Perkins, Assistant to Dean)