Professional Conduct of Students


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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.

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.

Being Professional

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

Ethical Behavior

Working Within the System


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.

Special Considerations

There is an additional set of rules that applies to CERIAS students:

Violations of any of the above can result in loss of assistantships and privileges as a student in CERIAS.

Other Resources

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: