The years as a student may seem to be a time when the usual rules don't apply, and where it is possible to experiment and bend life's rules and conventions. In many ways that is true -- it is possible to try changes in lifestyle, relationships, hobbies, and more without the people around seeing it as extraordinarily unusual. Sometimes, students take this to extremes. That is when it may be a concern.
Students who work for me (Spaf), as my advisees or within CERIAS, should understand that attending school does not result in all decisions being consequence-free. College is usually the beginning of a professional career, and almost without exception the students are legally considered to be adults. Thus, behavior matters. Studying matters. Having some fun, trying some new things, and making a few mistakes are expected, but not everything can be undone, forgiven, or forgotten.
Graduate school, in particular, is usually the start of establishing a professional, respected reputation that will be the basis for a future career. Wildly unusual or unprofessional behavior may be remembered by many people for years to come. The "nerd" in the cubicle down the hall from you may well be a company CEO or government official in 20 years, and you would thus be well advised to leave that person with a good impression of you when you graduate and part ways!
As a rule of thumb, being really unconventional is described differently as you age.
- After about age 70 you are described as quaint and peculiar.
- From about 55 to 70 you may be described as unique and exceptional.
- From about 40 to 55 you are described as unconventional and surprising.
- From about 25 to 40 you may be known as brash and unorthodox.
- Up to 25, you may be outlandish,, undisciplined, and simply impulsive.
None of these are bad, per se. But is is almost never a good idea to be labeled as rude, thoughtless, or reckless, especially if you are planning on being a professional in whom others are expected to place some trust.
This is an issue of more than simply an individual's reputation. What individuals do when associated with a group reflects on the entire group. The reputation of people working with CERIAS depends, in part, on the behavior of every other person associated with CERIAS. Furthermore, the reputations of the faculty, staff and alumni are affected by the behavior of the students who work within CERIAS. It's important that everyone involved realizes that he/she is a being viewed as a professional working in a professional environment, and behave accordingly.
While much of the campus community's behavior is regulated by university policies as expressed in official documents such as the student handbook, this document emphasizes a few items that CERIAS leadership believes are particularly important to CERIAS.
What does it mean to act professionally? Self-esteem and shared respect for one another are essential foundations of being a professional. The respect of those around us (our colleagues, professors, staff, fellow students, and the broad research community) is the ultimate measure of responsible professional conduct. Respect is bred by courtesy, thoughtfulness, scholarship, and respect of others.
We expect that everyone in CERIAS will act professionally and responsibly. This means, at a minimum:
Appropriate Conduct Towards Others
- Be considerate, courteous and polite to others. Good manners are remembered, and so are bad manners; it is better to be remembered for good manners. Even when upset, be polite -- it may convince observers that you are the one correct!
- Really listen to what other people have to say even if you suspect you will disagree. Often, the best way to be listened to is to make an effort to listen to others, first. You might even be surprised to learn something unexpected.
- Try to avoid prejudging others before getting to know them. You know that there is more to you than what is immediately obvious, and the same is true of the people you encounter.
- Understand that some people may be different in the way they look, act, worship, date, or behave. In law and our society, those differences are usually protected, as are your own choices. You will encounter many differences in your lifetime; attempt to be tolerant of the choices of others so long as they do not seek to impose those choices on you.
- Work to solve problems without disparaging remarks, profanity or anger. Many problems are a result of poor communication -- don't exacerbate them!
- Never intentionally ridicule, embarrass or hurt other people, and be mature enough to apologize if you do it unintentionally. Neither bullies nor cads are admired.
- Try to be forgiving of those who aren't yet mature enough to act professionally.
- Encourage others. When you have a success you appreciate positive feedback -- so do others. Reputation and happiness are not zero-sum: usually, if the people around you are happy and respected, it will increase your own standing. We all gain more from lifting each other up than we do from trying to cut everyone else down.
- If you use the work of others, credit them appropriately. This means citing references, acknowledging contributions, and appropriately crediting co-authors. Never represent work as your own that you did not perform yourself.
- Respect the property of others, whether it is physical property, intellectual property, or simply their reputations. Whether someone has a little or a lot, it is theirs and has value to them. Don't demean, degrade or deprive others of what is theirs.
- Disclose and avoid conflicts of interest. The best advice here is to consider anything that a reasonable person might wonder about as a conflict to be a conflict.
- Keep your promises; don't give your word unless you intend to keep it.
- Seek and promote truth. This means not to lie, not to tolerate others who knowingly lie, and to correct errors when they are discovered.
Working Within the System
- Respect the laws and rules even if you do not agree with them. Oppose them constructively, through the appropriate system, if you disagree.
- Purdue's policy is for an alcohol and drug-free workplace. CERIAS leadership expects students and staff to honor this policy.
As with all rules and directions, there are exceptions to the above, although they are infrequent. Remember, the key to establishing and keeping a good reputation is to be consistent and professional. The ability to embrace civility and rationally cope with differences is what distinguishes professionals from amateurs. Always strive for professionalism!
If you think an exception is appropriate, that is a good time to seek counsel from others whose experience and judgement you trust.
There is an additional set of rules that applies to CERIAS students:
- Under no circumstances are students allowed to "experiment" with malicious software (viruses, worms, etc) or attack software (root kits, etc) on any computer systems or networks without the explicit, written permission of the legitimate owners and operators of every system and network involved. Even then, exercise extreme caution -- it is possible to destroy one's personal reputation (and accumulate criminal charges) at the speed of computation!
- Students are expected to respect the privacy of others, both online and offline. Abuse or misuse of another's personal information is not allowed.
- Sharing of access information or carelessness with account protections is not allowed. Care should be taken to protect CERIAS assets from unauthorized access.
- Academic dishonesty of any kind (plagiarism, cheating, etc) is prohibited by university rules, standards of academic and scientific ethics, and this set of rules.
Violations of any of the above can result in loss of assistantships and privileges as a student in CERIAS.
Deadlines, classes and student life can be very stressful. You have to know yourself and your limits. Don't let stress get in the way. There are other outlets and alternatives. If you're a student having problem with stress, see a trusted faculty member or get help from the Purdue Guidance and Counseling Center or the Purdue CAPS center.
Information on research ethics and profesional behavior:
- Understanding research ethics from The National Academies
- The ACM Code of Ethics
- IEEE Code of Ethics
- Purdue policies for faculty, staff and students.