CS CARES Committee

CS CARES Committee: Purpose

All members of the Illinois Computer Science department - faculty, staff, and students - are expected to adhere to the CS Values and Code of Conduct (referred to as the Code below). The department and university administration provide many committees and mechanisms to uphold this Code. There are, however, situations where these mechanisms may be unclear and/or engaging with such a committee may be too intimidating.
 
The role of CARES is to serve as a resource consisting of members of our community who are approachable and willing to listen to and help people who are concerned about or experience a potential violation of the Code. The committee members can be a sounding board for such concerns and can provide advice on next steps to address the concerns. Such steps may range from a conversation among all parties (possibly informally mediated by CARES members) to a report filed to the appropriate department or university committee seeking an official action or response. At the request of the complainant and if appropriate, a CARES committee member may serve as an advocate on behalf of the complainant, including filing necessary reports and attending hearings with the complainant or on their behalf. 
 
We emphasize that the CARES committee cannot itself undertake any official investigations or enforce sanctions. CARES committee members are also not trained to provide mental health counseling. The committee must obey all the rules of the University of Illinois, Grainger College of Engineering, and the Department of Computer Science, including the stipulations of Title IX.
 
The motivation in providing a standing CARES committee is: (1) people are more likely to report violations of the Code if familiar and trusted members of the community are explicitly available for confidential consultation and support, (2) providing an explicit resource to discuss such matters may, in some cases, encourage earlier reporting, when it is easier to find mitigations, (3) an established committee with significant length membership terms enables building experience and a record that inspires more trust for those considering coming forward about violations, (4) committee members are expected to be visible and available to the community through various channels such as office hours and frequently monitored electronic media, and (5) the presence of such a committee assigned specifically to uphold the Code should serve as a deterrent for violations of the Code as well as encourage us all to be aware of it, uphold it, and speak up if we observe violations.

Acknowledgements: The CARES committee idea and this text draw heavily from the SIGARCH/SIGMICRO CARES committee concept and its bylaws and the position of the faculty ombudsperson at the College of Engineering at the Texas A&M University.