Reporting of suspected, fraudulent, illegal or improper activities

Revised 5/6/23


Mount Holyoke College encourages reporting of suspected fraudulent, illegal or improper activities, and prohibits retaliation against those making such reports.

Scope and Definition of Fraudulent, Illegal or Improper Activities

This policy applies to all Mount Holyoke College community members (e.g., faculty, staff, students, and alums engaged in volunteer work for the College).

The Vice President for Finance and Administration is responsible for enforcement and oversight of the policy.

This policy does not apply to allegations of certain types of illegal or improper activities or actions, such as sexual harassment, bias incidents, certain environmental health and safety violations, and any other areas which are the subject of separate, specific policies of the College with respect to reporting and investigation.

For purposes of this policy, the term “fraudulent activities” generally includes any willful or deliberate act performed with the intention of obtaining an unauthorized benefit, such as money or property, by deception or other unethical means. The broader term used here—“fraudulent, illegal or improper activities”—includes actions and activities generally understood to be fraudulent, as well as other actions or activities involving financial improprieties, criminal behavior, violations of other laws, or serious or significant breaches of institutional policies. The term includes, but is not limited to, actions and activities such as the following:

  • Embezzlement, theft, misappropriation or other financial irregularities
  • Forgery or alteration of documents (e.g., checks, time sheets, contractor agreements, purchase orders, other financial documents, electronic files, etc.)
  • Improprieties in the handling or reporting of money or financial transactions
  • Improprieties in the approval, management, administration or assignment of contracts
  • Theft or misappropriation of funds, securities, supplies, equipment, goods, inventory, or any other asset
  • Authorizing or making payment for goods not received or services not performed, or receiving payment or other consideration for goods not delivered or services not performed
  • Authorizing or receiving payments for hours not worked
  • Receiving of tangible personal benefit from a third party as a direct consequence of performance of duties as an employee of the College
  • Pursuing or obtaining a benefit or advantage in violation of the College’s conflict of interest policies
  • Illegal activities involving the wrongful use, disclosure or appropriation of an individual’s personal information, such as identity theft, disclosure of a student’s education records in violation of FERPA, or misuse of personal financial or other private information
  • Other activities that violate the letter or spirit of law or College policy including the MHC Code of Ethical Conduct.



This Policy is intended to encourage and enable Mount Holyoke community members to raise serious concerns internally so that Mount Holyoke College can address and correct inappropriate conduct and actions.

Policy statement

The College expressly prohibits retaliation of any kind against those who report such concerns as covered in this policy.

An employee who reports a fraudulent, illegal or improper activity, or information indicating that such an activity may have occurred, in the reasonable belief that such activity or information is true, shall not suffer harassment, retaliation or other adverse employment consequences from other employees of the College. An employee who retaliates against someone who has reported a suspected violation in good faith is subject to discipline up to and including termination of employment. Any employee who believes that they have been retaliated against after making a report of an improper activity under this policy may report this alleged retaliation to the Associate Vice President for Human Resources or the Vice President for Finance and Administration, who will take appropriate action.


It is the responsibility of all Mount Holyoke community members to report concerns as they become aware of suspected violations of the College’s Code of Ethical Conduct, or of laws or regulations that govern the College’s operations.

Reports can be made to the Senior Team member overseeing your division (for faculty and staff), to the Vice President for Student Affairs (for students), or to another College official, such as the Vice President for Finance and Administration. Alternatively, reports can be made online (either anonymously or not) via Maxient. Reports submitted via Maxient will be routed to the Vice President for Finance and Administration, unless that person is named in the report, in which case the report will be routed to the Chair(s) of the Trustee Audit and Risk Committee.

If the situation warrants immediate action – for example security is at risk or immediate recovery is possible – Public Safety should be contacted immediately.


Confidentiality of the reporter will be maintained to the extent practicable within the limitations of the law, College policy and the legitimate needs of the investigation. In addition, employees submitting a report should be aware that their public testimony might be needed to prove the case against the suspected employee.

While employees are encouraged to come forward with concerns, and to make reports under this policy in all appropriate cases, individuals making reports are also cautioned to take care to limit appropriately their discussions and communications about reported cases in order to minimize their exposure to possible claims by persons accused of wrongdoing. Although an employee’s report may possess merit, comments made to others regarding another employee could constitute defamation, invasion of privacy or other grounds for civil liability. Employees therefore should, subject to exceptions discussed elsewhere in this policy, generally avoid discussing allegations outside of the reporting and investigation process. This is especially true in instances where, after full investigation by the College, it is determined that the suspected employee’s actions were lawful or within College policy. It should also be noted that if an employee self-discloses their identity directly or indirectly through their own actions outside of the official investigation process, the College is not obligated to maintain the confidentiality of that employee’s identity.

Sanctions for a False or Baseless Allegation

A report made under this policy can have considerable impact on the personal and professional lives of those charged, both during the investigation and long term. An employee who intentionally makes a false or baseless allegation against another will be subject to discipline up to and including termination of employment. A false or baseless allegation is one made with an awareness of its falsity, or one made without any substantial basis and with a reckless disregard for its truth or falsity.

Related Policies

Code of Ethical Conduct
Gender-Based and Sexual Misconduct
Grievance Procedure
Reporting of Campus Bias, Insensitivity, and Discrimination Incidents