ocn code of conduct


The Department of Oceanography strives to create a supportive, inclusive, and productive working and learning environment. As articulated in the UHM Strategic Plan, we value the core principles of kuleana (our responsibilities and privileges) and mālama (tending to and caring for one another), which remind us of our responsibilities to each other and the communities and environments in which we work and learn. 

Every member of our department should enjoy being a part of, feel vested in contributing to, and be supported in the variety of endeavors they pursue. Excellence in research, education, professional pursuits, and service are all fostered by effective and supportive relationships among all members, free of discrimination, harassment, and intimidation. Members of our community should be welcomed regardless of sex, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, age, ethnicity, race, national origin, ancestry, cultural heritage, citizenship, marital status, socio-economic status, veteran status, spiritual practices, (dis)abilities, and any other human condition.

With this in mind, this Code is a shared statement of commitment to upholding the ethical, professional, and legal standards that serve as a basis for our daily activities and long-term goals. We must all be aware of and comply with the relevant laws, policies, and regulations that govern our work. We are each individually responsible for our own actions, and as members of the Department and the University, are collectively responsible for upholding these standards of behavior and compliance with relevant policies, laws, and regulations. 

Further, we strive to facilitate an inclusive and equitable atmosphere where each member of our community can contribute to scientific research and education. This pertains to the classroom, field, office and laboratory space, and all other environments where the Department of Oceanography conducts its work. We recognize an inclusive atmosphere as one that is sensitive to differences in cultural and socio-economic backgrounds, and which continually works to understand not only the natural world around us, but each other’s relationship to it. We believe that the diversity in our perspectives adds value to our work and places us at different points on our individual paths toward understanding. To this end, each member of the department should be mindful of differences in behaviors and communication styles, approaches to learning and pedagogy, and structural imbalances, and should not exploit these imbalances or leverage these differences against another.

All members are expected to uphold the Code and contribute to an environment that is:

  • Ethical: Honesty, integrity, and impartiality should be practiced in all personal and professional interactions. Each member of the department is expected to practice ethical behaviour and scientific integrity at all times. This includes, but is not limited to, research and publication practices, laboratory and field research, and classroom policies. 
  • Professional: Each member of the department should conduct themselves in a professional manner by treating everyone with respect. This includes refraining from using profanity; denigrating remarks; using homophobic, transphobic, racial epithets, or hate-speech of any kind; or contributing to an uncomfortable working environment through sexually explicit remarks or actions. 
  • Inclusive: Establish an environment that is welcoming by encouraging open and honest dialogue. Be proactive in learning about culturally sensitive issues, particularly with regard to Hawaiian and Pacific Island culture. When critiques are necessary, provide constructive feedback in a timely fashion. 
  • Transparent:  To empower each member of our community to be proactive in their personal professional goals and continued learning, members of the department should continually work to create transparency around policies and procedures in their labs and classrooms. This applies to grading and classroom practices, hiring and promotion processes, professional development opportunities, and funding/resource allocation and procedures. 

Conducting Research in Hawaiʻi

An overarching role of the University and the department is to serve the people of Hawaiʻi.  Relationship-building and positive public perception are critical, both in strengthening effectiveness in this role and in fostering lasting public support of research in Hawaiʻi. The following are basic guidelines to promote this effort. 

  • Respect and engage the community. Building and nurturing relationships is critically important to conducting research in Hawaiʻi. Introduce yourself, be forthcoming about the goals and procedures of research, and consider how your research will positively or negatively impact the community. Invest in the long term: practice open and consistent communication with the community throughout the entire research process, including sharing the results.
  • Kūlana Noi’i: culturally-relevant standards for community-based research in Hawaiʻi
  • Respect the ʻāina (land, sea, and sky). Always request permission for site access and sample collection. Respect the decision, even if permission is denied. Before collecting a sample, pause and consider the value of the sample to the place as well as to people who may come after you.
  • Aloha ʻĀina: a guide to current land and water issues in Hawaiʻi
  • Kipuka Database: a geographical information system (GIS) that provides a window into native Hawaiian land, culture and history
  • Respect ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi (Hawaiian language). Use Hawaiian words and place names properly and consistently. In written work, use proper diacritical marks (i.e., kahakō and ʻokina), and provide appropriate attribution and citation if Hawaiian language sources or practitioners are utilized.
  • Wehewehe: Hawaiian-English dictionary
  • Ulukau: Hawaiian place names
  • UH ITS: Hawaiian diacritical marks for Windows and Mac OS
  • UHM Library: other place name resources

Other resources:

  • Hawaiʻi Papa O Ke Ao report: University goals and objectives to address the higher education needs of Native Hawaiians by creating a model indigenous serving institution
  • Papakilo Database: collections of data pertaining to historically and culturally significant places, events, and documents in Hawai’i’s history

Conducting Fieldwork with the Department of Oceanography

Fieldwork is an integral part of the research conducted by the Department of Oceanography and may present participating personnel with issues not normally encountered during their regular activities on campus. The rigors of fieldwork, including travelling and working and residing with colleagues in close proximity away from home, often combined with long working hours, intense subject matter and potentially physically dangerous activities, can be stressful and uncomfortable, and the familiar support systems and resources of the University of Hawaiʻi may not be immediately available.

All fieldwork participants – students, faculty, staff, ship crew, etc. – have the right to a safe, non-threatening work and living environment and are expected to adhere to the same professional behavior guidelines as if working on campus; those same guidelines also apply to telephone conversations and electronic communications such as email and social media.  

All participants of departmentally sanctioned fieldwork are representatives of the institution and must be committed to maintaining the safety and dignity of others, including those who are not involved with fieldwork or the institution; all participants must adhere to UH conduct guidelines for the workplace and are responsible and accountable for their own actions. Fieldwork participants found to be engaging in problematic behavior may face appropriate corrective actions such as removal from the field party.

Some examples of problematic behaviors include, but are not limited to, threatening or intimidating language, unwanted physical contact, uneven distribution of field duties, unequal access to data or research opportunities, retaliation for reporting of problematic behaviors, and discrimination of any kind.

Reporting misconduct during fieldwork

Problematic behaviors that compromise the safety or dignity of others cannot be tolerated and must be addressed with the designated field party leader(s), e.g., Chief Scientist or field supervisor. Larger parties should also have a designated second-in-command; on a ship, the Captain is the ultimate field supervisor and should always be informed of any and all problematic behavior.  If an individual feels that it is not appropriate to address experienced or observed problematic behavior with the field leader(s), or if they are not satisfied with the resulting actions of the field party leader(s), they will need to contact their home institution supervisors and systems, such as their project Principal Investigator, the Oceanography Department chair, Title IX representative, and the other appropriate conflict resolution resources available to students, faculty, and staff.

Conduct of Advisors and Trainees

The relationship between an advisor and a trainee carries extra demands for ethical behavior. Such relationships include those between faculty advisors and student or postdoctoral trainees, as well as other mentoring relationships such as graduate students mentoring undergraduates. Effective and productive relationships start with trust, courtesy, two-way communications, and shared expectations. Graduate faculty are expected to follow the Graduate Faculty Standards and Responsibilities, and students are expected to follow the Student Code of Conduct. Beyond these expectations, the following recommendations will promote ethical and successful outcomes:

  • Mutually set clear expectations and timelines, schedule and honor regular meeting times, provide timely feedback (e.g., papers, proposals, and theses).
  • Establish and protect advisees’ agreed-upon roles in a project, rights to data use, and the appropriate level of authorship in presentations and publications.
  • Advisors should be mindful of, and not exploit, the power imbalance between advisors and trainees.
  • Trainees should be proactive in communicating with their advisors about career goals, and engaging in opportunities for their education and professional development.

UHM Misconduct Policies, and Procedures for Resolving Conflicts or Reporting Violations

Employees and students at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa (UHM) are governed by a set of policies and procedures that define unacceptable conduct, how incidents of misconduct should be reported, and how conflicts should be resolved. These include policies pertaining to workplace violence, sex discrimination and gender-based violence, equal employment opportunity and affirmative action, student conduct, research and scholarly misconduct, academic grievances arising between students and instructors, and graduate student grievances arising between graduate students and graduate faculty. Below these policies and procedures are summarized, in order to clarify what is considered unacceptable conduct and provide guidance on how individuals should address behavior that may violate these policies. Consequences for misconduct can include mandatory counseling or training, oral or written reprimands, suspension without pay, and termination/expulsion.

General Grievances through the EEO/AA Office

Employees of, and applicants to UH are protected under Federal law from discrimination on the basis of: race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, and genetics. Further, the State of Hawaiʻi protects against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action (EEO/AA) Office promotes the University’s commitment to diversity for Employees of the Mānoa Campus and System Offices. Allegations of discrimination for UH employees, faculty, and students can be further handled throught the Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action Office. The general procedures are outlined below. 

Please Note: EEO does not have system wide jurisdiction. Contact information for each campus is listed on their website (https://www.hawaii.edu/offices/eeo/eeo-coordinators/). 

How complaints should be handled:

Informal Complaint:

A resolution at the department level is encouraged but not required (as outlined in the academic and student grievance sections). If the circumstances of the complaint prevent the student or employee from discussing the matter with the other party or at the department level, the Complainant may contact the Complaint Officer for assistance. The Complaint Officer will attempt to resolve the matter informally. Additionally, an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) can be utilized for informal complaint resolution if both the  Complainant and Respondent agree.

Formal Complaint:

A complaint must be made in writing, within 180 days of the (most recent) incident unless the Complainant can show good cause for a later filing. Complaints must include the name of the Respondent, and describe the complaint. An Investigating Officer will be assigned for fact finding and will provide a written summary of the complaint to the Respondent within 10 days of receiving the complaint. 

Complete  information including definitions, rebuttals, forms, and timelines can be found here: https://www.hawaii.edu/offices/eeo/complaint-procedures/

RCUH employees should refer to RCUH EEO policies and procedures: https://www.rcuh.com/3-000/3-100/3-110/

Workplace Non-Violence

The University of Hawai‘i prohibits any work related or workplace violence against its students, faculty, staff, visitors and contract employees which materially and substantially interferes with an individual’s work, academic performance, and/or workplace safety and/or otherwise subjectively and objectively creates a hostile environment. Such prohibited violent acts may involve physical attack, property damage, as well as written or verbal statements or non-verbal gestures that, to a reasonable person, express or suggest the intent to cause physical or mental harm to another person.

All administrators, faculty, staff, contract employees and students are responsible for maintaining a university campus environment that ensures that all members are treated with civility and respect to fulfill the University’s missions and goals. The University fully supports the efforts of the State of Hawai‘i and is committed to a workplace free of violence.

All incidents must be reported and will be addressed immediately according to statutes, rules, collective bargaining agreements, or policies.  Employees (i.e. faculty and staff) should report all incidents to their supervisors or campus designee.  The decision to report an incident will never be questioned.  The supervisor is responsible for addressing the complaint immediately in accordance with statutes or University policies. Students, visitors, and contract employees should report incidents to the appropriate dean, administrator, or respective campus security personnel who will take appropriate action, in accordance with statutes and University policies.

The University of Hawai‘i system prohibits and will not tolerate retaliation. Retaliation is defined as adverse actions that would dissuade a reasonable person from making or supporting a charge of workplace violence or hostile treatment against any individual.

Further documentation: 


Title IX

Title IX covers any form of sex discrimination; sexual harassment, including the conditional provision of an aid, benefit or services on an individual’s participation in unwelcome sexual conduct, or unwelcome conduct determined by a reasonable person, to be so severe and pervasive and objectively offensive, that it effectively denies a person equal access to the University; and gender-based violence, such as gender-based harassment, including harassment based on actual or perceived sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression; sexual exploitation; sexual assault; domestic violence; dating violence; and stalking.

Further documentation:

To report a sex discrimination or gender-based violence related incidence:

  • https://report.system.hawaii.edu/student 
  • You have the option to log in to the portal using your UH name but that is not anonymous, or you can continue to the report without logging in and remain anonymous. This latter option can also be used if you do not have a UH username. 

RCUH employees should refer to RCUH Sexual Harassment policies and procedures: https://www.rcuh.com/3-000/3-100/3-120/

Systemwide Student Conduct Code

The policies set forth in this code are intended to serve primarily as an extension of UH’s educational mission — to guide students in their growth as members of the UH and broader communities. Choosing to join the UH community obligates each student to abide by this code of conduct. As members of the UH community, students accept the responsibility to become fully acquainted with UH’s rules and to comply with UH’s authority. UH expects students to maintain standards of personal integrity that are in harmony with the educational goals of UH; to respect the rights, privileges, and property of others; and to observe national, state, and local laws and University policies and procedures. The UH Student Conduct Code applies at all locations of UH, including any affiliated residence hall.

Further documentation:


Research and Scholarly Misconduct

Misconduct under this category includes: fabrication of data or results and recording or reporting them; falsification of research materials, equipment or processes, or changing or omitting data that means that the research record is not accurately represented; plagiarism in appropriating someone else’s ideas, processes, results or words without giving appropriate credit; the misappropriation of funds, where funds are used that violate the terms of a grant or regulations and policies; inappropriate behaviour regarding accusations of misconduct in bad faith, withholding or destroying information relevant to a claim of misconduct, reckless or false testimony to an Ethics Committee or Review Panel member, and retaliation against persons involved in an investigation; and the misrepresentation of qualifications, experience or research accomplishments to advance a research program, to obtain external funding or for other professional advancements. 

An observed, suspected or apparent misconduct should be reported to the Research Integrity Officer (RIO) from the Office of Research Integrity (ORI), to a member of the University administration or to members of the Ethics Committee (also part of ORI). If an individual is unsure whether the suspected incident meets the definition of research misconduct, they may meet with or contact the RIO to discuss the situation informally, which may include discussing it anonymously and/or hypothetically. 

The RIO shall protect the identity of the respondents, complainants, informants and witnesses. Any alleged or apparent retaliation against complainants, informants, witnesses or committee members should be reported immediately to the RIO, who shall review the matter, and take all reasonable and practical efforts to counter this as necessary. The RIO and other institutional officers shall also make all reasonable and practical efforts to protect or restore the reputation of the person accused if no finding of research misconduct is made. 

Further documentation:

The full relevant policy can be found on https://www.hawaii.edu/policy/?action=viewPolicy&policySection=ep&policyChapter=12&policyNumber=211 or search EP12.211 on https://www.hawaii.edu/policy/

To report a suspected research misconduct:

  • Reports must contain enough information to be considered specific and credible. Report what you know, but do not investigate yourself. Report should include: name of respondent(s), name of whistle-blowers(s) (if wish to be identified), names of witnesses, description of misconduct, when misconduct occurred, supporting documentation, grand number or title (if known), funding source (if known). 
  • See more at: https://researchcompliance.hawaii.edu/programs/research-integrity/report-research-misconduct/ 

Academic Grievances

It is the policy of the UHM, that faculty and students (undergraduate and graduate) of UHM be provided consistent and equitable treatment in resolving disputes arising from the academic relationship between faculty and student(s). The applicability of this policy is limited to those issues directly associated and concomitant with the faculty member’s responsibilities as a teacher and the student’s responsibilities as a learner. For matters involving alleged academic dishonesty the Student Conduct Code should be consulted.

Misconduct includes failure of faculty to meet the responsibilities stated in the linked document, for example:

  • To provide students equitable and unbiased treatment in an educational climate free from harassment and discrimination.
  • To provide students with sufficient and timely information, in writing, on the standards they are expected to meet and the procedures used to evaluate their achievements in their academic program.
  • To provide students timely evaluation in a fair, objective, and consistent manner.

Further documentation:

Academic Grievance Procedures: http://studentaffairs.manoa.hawaii.edu/policies/academic_grievance/

How grievances should be addressed:

Attempt an informal resolution with the faculty member. The student may wish to consult, in this order, the Department Chairperson or Graduate Faculty Chairperson, the Office of Judicial Affairs, and/or the Dean of Students. 

If an informal resolution is not satisfactory, the student should prepare a formal complaint in writing, indicate the facts, specific violations, and the remedy sought. The complaint is presented to the Department or Graduate Faculty Chair, as appropriate. Details of the process to be followed by the chair are in the linked document. Failing a satisfactory resolution, the grievance can be appealed to the Office of Judicial Affairs, to be addressed by the Academic Grievance Committee. 

Graduate Student Grievances

These policies and procedures apply to grievance situations unique to graduate students, between the student and their program. Such grievances may involve:

  • specific graduate program requirements (including adequate academic progress),
  • qualifying and comprehensive exams,
  • formation and composition of the thesis or dissertation committee,
  • final defense of the thesis or dissertation,
  • infringement of intellectual property.

Misconduct covered by this policy includes failure to fulfill graduate faculty responsibilities, including but not limited to:

  • Accessible to all students under their guidance
  • Be candid and fair in their relations with students and avoiding demeaning conduct
  • Avoid an abuse of power
  • Adhere to academic senate and grad division policies concerning co-authorship
  • Provide an educational climate free from discrimination or harassment

Further documentation:

How grievances should be addressed:

First make a good faith effort at informal conflict resolution, using available campus resources.

The graduate student shall attempt, insofar as possible, to resolve the problem with the faculty member(s) involved. In the attempt to resolve the matter with the faculty member, the student may wish to consult, in the following suggested order: 1) the Graduate Chair; 2) the Department Chair; 3) the Dean or Associate Dean of the Academic Unit in which the graduate student is enrolled; and/or 4) the Dean or Associate Dean of Graduate Division. In addition, any combination of the above may be approached to assist in an informal resolution.

During the informal stage of conflict resolution, the Graduate Dean and the Associate Graduate Dean provide counseling and guidance, and assist with informal resolution of the conflict. However, once a formal grievance is filed, the Graduate Division becomes the official arbitrator and must remain impartial to all parties involved in the conflict.

The GSO Executive Council supports graduate students during both the stages of informal conflict resolution and formal grievance.

For issues pertaining to discrimination contact EEO/AA, sexual harassment or assault contact Office of Title IX. 

Formal grievance:  If informal resolution is not satisfactory, one can file a written grievance with the Graduate Chair (see link above for the process). If this is not deemed satisfactory then one can appeal to the Dean of the academic unit followed by the Graduate Dean, who will form a Graduate Grievance Committee. 

Contact information for reporting misconduct

IssueOfficePhoneEmail / Website
Workplace ViolenceHuman Resources(808) 956-8458OHR website
Workplace ViolenceOffice of the Vice President for Administration(808) 956-6405vpadmin@hawaii.edu
Title IXOffice of Institutional Equity (OIE)(808) 956-8629equity@hawaii.edu
Student MisconductOffice of the Associate Vice President for Student Affairs(808) 956-8753avpsa@hawaii.edu
Research MisconductOffice of the Vice President for Research and Innovation(808) 956-5006uhovpri@hawaii.edu 
Research MisconductUH Research Integrity Officer:Victoria Riverauhrio@hawaii.edu
Academic GrievancesOffice of Judicial Affairs(808) 956-2537oja@hawaii.edu
Academic GrievancesDean of Students(808) 956-3290vcs@hawaii.edu
Graduate Student GrievancesOffice of the Dean of Graduate Division(808) 956-7541
Graduate Student GrievancesOffice of the Associate Dean of Graduate Division(808) 956-8950
Graduate Student Grievances (Support)Graduate Student Organization (GSO) Executive CouncilGSO Executive Council Members
Harassment and Discrimination  (Each Campus)Equal Opportunity Office / Affirmative Action (EEO/AA)EEO/AA Campus coordinators
Harassment and Discrimination (Manoa Campus)Equal Opportunity Office / Affirmative Action (EEO/AA)(808) 956-7077eeo@hawaii.edu
Harassment and Discrimination (Manoa Students)EEO Coordinator for Students: Lori Ideta(808) 956-3290vcs@hawaii.edu
Kokua Program/ADA complianceEEO Coordinator for ADA:Mark Au(808) 956-7077

Click here to view SOEST’s Code of Conduct.