The Executive Ethics Commission has levied a $500 fine against a University of Illinois professor who continually refused to complete the state’s annual ethics training program. But the professor still maintains the tests are a waste of time and money.
Once a year, anyone who works for state government or a public university has to take an online ethics test.
But from 2006 through 2009, Dr. Lou van den Dries refused.
The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign math professor called the training an “Orwellian scheme” … “it is Big Brother reducing adults to the status of children,” he wrote.
For that, the state’s ethics commission is disciplining him.
The settlement also required him to complete the 2011 test, and to agree to take future ones.
The Office of Executive Inspector General’s top attorney says “as a citizen of an academic community” van den Dries should strive to set an example and this is a start.
Van den Dries, who’s in Europe but responded to questions via email, says he hasn’t changed his mind. He still says the program is demeaning.
He says subjecting state employees to ethics training because of corruption “by a few politicians is an irritating waste that breeds cynicism.”
But he says with lawyer’s fees, the fight became too expensive and time consuming to continue. van den Dries also says his attorney thought continuing to refuse the training on grounds of principle could land him in jail.
Given that choice, van den Dries says he can live with “petty tyranny.”
— Amanda Vinicky