Ethics: Advisory Opinion No. 1995-16

Advisory Opinion No. 1995-16
Advisory Opinion No. 1995-16

Application Of The Code To Students Employed
By A
State College

The Director of Employee Relations and Counsel for the Board of Trustees of Community-Technical Colleges, Jackson W. Foley, Jr., has asked whether students employed by a state college are subject to the provisions of the Code of Ethics for Public Officials, Chapter 10, Part I, Connecticut General Statutes.  Mr. Foley has stated that students may be employed either through the college work study program or as student workers.

The work study student is paid as part of the financial aid program offered by the college.  This program is funded with federal monies.  The student worker is paid with state personnel funds which are allocated to the college through the state budgeting process.  Although the source of the funds are different, in either case it is the college and/or a department within the college system which receives and then controls how such funds are spent.

The Code, in pertinent part, defines the term “state employee” to include any employee in the executive branch of state government, whether in the classified or unclassified service and whether full or part-time.  Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-79(m).  (Compare to Conn. Gen. Stat. 5-196(i) in the State Personnel Act which uses this term primarily for the purpose of determining eligibility for state benefits).  The underlying principal of the Ethics Code is that public office is a public trust which should not be used for private financial gain.

Consequently, the definition of state employee in the Code is utilized to prevent any person from using a State position, or confidential information gained in and by virtue of that State position, for private financial benefit.  See Sections 1-84 through 1-86, Connecticut General Statutes.

A student worker may be privy to the same information as a nonstudent worker and may hold an equivalent position.  In fact, students work with and are supervised by other state workers.  Any employee of the college who occupies a position whose duties and responsibilities implement state action or functions is a state employee for purposes of the Code.  CF Ethics Commission Advisory Opinion No. 94-13, “Application of Code of Ethics for Public Officials to Individuals Hired Through Special Payroll Account or Under Personal Services Agreement”, 56 Conn. L.J. No. 4, p. 1C (7/26/94).  Neither the source of the funds used by the college to pay these workers nor their status as students is relevant to this conclusion.  Therefore, student workers, whether part of the work study program or not, are subject to the Code of Ethics.

By order of the Commission,

David T. Nassef

Content Last Modified on 9/7/2005 8:01:11 AM