Ethics test deadline approaches for state employees, student workers


Jerry Burnes | Northern Star Photo Illustration

By Andrea Azzo

Every year, the state of Illinois requires state employees to complete an ethics training session. For NIU, this means student workers are required to take the test as well.

The test asks questions about ethics as they apply to work-related tasks, including questions about political campaigns and accepting gifts.

Deborah Haliczer, director of Employee Relations and Training, said the test is required because it is part of the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act. The act, passed in 2003, was put in place due to concern about what was perceived as unethical.

“It’s an annual reminder for employees to stop and reflect on ethical behavior,” Haliczer said.

According to a memorandum to NIU employees from Steve Cunningham, vice president of Administration and Human Resources, the test takes about 30 minutes and is available online. The memorandum states supervisors are responsible for assuring their employees take the test,

If an employee gets a question wrong, the program shows and explains the right answer.

“The screen would force you to read it all to advance through the training,” Haliczer said.

This deters participants from selecting answers without reading the content, she said.

According to the memorandum, the state may monitor the amount of time employees spend on the training to ensure participants are reading and completing answers.

If a university employee does not take the test, the university reports those individuals to the state, Haliczer said. The state will give the employee a paper version of the test to take, and if they don’t complete it, the state will issue a $5,000 fine.

In the past, the test was given in a 10-question format that required employees to get eight of out 10 correct. Now, individuals can take the test without having to worry about how many questions they get wrong, Haliczer said.

Some student workers said they don’t think the test shoul be required.

“I feel like it’s pretty much common sense,” said Katrina Keeton, freshman business administration major and Housing and Dining employee. “It has nothing to do with Housing & Dining. They don’t ask questions about sanitation or customer service. It has more to do with politics.”

Rob Skowronski, junior operations management and information systems (OMIS) major, said he hasn’t taken the ethics training test yet, but has taken similar tests in the past.

“It’s a waste of time,” Skowronski said. “Everyone knows what the ethical thing to do is. It’s just a matter of if you’re going to follow it or not.”

The test must be completed by Nov. 16.