University’s vendor code will enter public spotlight

The University’s vendor code of conduct could enter the public eye this week after being relegated to the background for a year.

Chime Asonye, former student trustee and senior in LAS, said that a vendor code of conduct committee was created to uphold ethical standards and report whether the University’s business practices met those standards. The code applies to people and businesses entering into contracts with the University.

Larry DeBrock, dean of the College of Business and chair of the committee that proposed the code, said a formal adoption of the code would establish the ethical principles contained within the code as the University’s official practice.

“I appreciate the consideration that our administration and Board of Trustees are giving the report and its implementation,” DeBrock said.

“We have certain institutional principles that should never be sacrificed, ever,” Asonye said.

Once the committee finished the report, it was sent to the administration but not followed up on, he added.

“I just want the administration to follow through in an expeditious manner on the things they’re going to do,” Asonye said.

Asonye has made a request to speak about the code during the public comment session of Wednesday’s Board of Trustees meeting along with other issues, including accountability on the part of the University and the University’s “Green Report Card” grade, a report evaluating sustainability.

Asonye said that in addition to the possible speech, he has talked to administrators via e-mail. He also has created an online petition in support of following up on the code.

The online petition details many requested provisions, including a committee to further enforce the code and a mass announcement to the community explaining the importance of the code.

“I want public awareness on it,” Asonye said.

Mark Mallon, senior in LAS, said the code is a step in the right direction for the University and needs to be reinforced.

“The University should affirm its belief in just working conditions in companies that do business with the University,” Mallon said. “I think the follow up should be the president signing it – this code was written by his own committee over a year ago, and he has not signed it yet.”

Carey Ash, graduate student, said he is concerned about the state of the code.

“I think we should uphold the ethical and moral standards the University has placed on itself,” Ash said.

Ash said the Illinois Student Senate was working on passing a resolution to the code this week.

“It simply upholds the basic human rights standards that are ethical in business,” Ash said.

David Dorris, member of the Board of Trustees, said Asonye has been working to motivate administrators to follow up on the code for a while.

“I would be supportive to make sure that information is available,” said Dorris.

Dorris said that while he is sympathetic toward Asonye’s goals, the Board of Trustees does not have a distinct position on the issue.

“We don’t have the data to see what would be perceived as a problem or not,” Dorris said.