Ethical Issue Case Study: the First Report by Kirk O. Hanson

Focus: A college president must decide how to respond to a report of a faculty member’s sexual misconduct

According to the definition of ethics, an ethical issue is that which attempts to determine what is wrong and what is right (Miller, 2009). This case may therefore be considered an ethical issue in education because it focuses on how a faculty member’s behavior should be handled.  In this focus, the faculty member’s sexual misconduct is categorized by the college president as good or bad and then decides on how to respond to it. It is therefore an ethical issue in the sense that the college president decides on how to treat the conduct of the faculty member; whether it is good or bad.

To resolve this ethical issue, I will use a five-step decision-making model similar in some aspects but different in others with the American Accounting Association (AAA) model. Step one in this model is to determine the facts prevalent in the case. This will eliminate all possible ambiguities in the case before it is handled. The second step is to determine the rationale of the case; what are the ethical issues involved? Is the case legal? Does it conform to best practices, norms and values? The third step involves identifying alternative approaches to the issue. In this stage, other options on how to handle the issue are considered. In step four, the best option from the available alternatives is chosen. This course of action should be consistent with the best practices, principles, values and norms identified in step two. Finally, the decision is made.

Resolving the issue using my model

Step 1: Determining the facts prevalent in the case. The facts in the case are that the college president is the person who decides on reports of a faculty member’s sexual misconduct

Step 2:  Determining the rationale of the case: The college president has the mandate to hear reports of sexual misconduct from faculty member’s behavior including sexual misconduct. It’s lawful for a college president to be involved in such cases and must therefore decide how to respond to such cases:

Step 3: Identify Alternative courses of action: The alternative courses of actions include living the matter to higher authorities such as lectures and dean of students or university disciplinary committee, or consulting external bodies such as the government authorities.

Step 4: Choosing the best option: Since the college president is just one individual among many college stakeholders, it is not prudent to leave him with the whole responsibility of making decision on the misconduct of students. He should therefore consult the school disciplinary committee because that is in line with the norms of the college.

Step 5: Decision making stage: The decision then is to take the matter to the disciplinary committee for further consultative and investigative actions.

Resolving the issue through primary research

To resolve the issue through primary research, I have conducted three pieces of reaches. First, I approached the college president Ian Smith and asked him about his view. His response was that he often prefers to make decisions on how to respond to report on faculty member’s sexual misconduct because he has the power to do so and because it also gives me the opportunity to understand my students well and be able to help them when necessary. Secondly, I consulted the disciplinary committee on the same issue and surveyed past cases to determine how such issues were handled in the past. Finally, I interviewed a sample of faculty members to determine their views.

From this research, I noted that students prefer that the president decides how to respond to reports of faculty member’s sexual misconduct. This is because the president understands them and does not treat them harshly but gives them sound advice. On the other hand, the disciplinary committee prefers that the president should consult them. The best decision I made from this is that when the sexual misconduct is very serious and impacts greatly on the victims, than the matter should be taken to the committee, otherwise decisions should be made by the president.

Resolving the issue through secondary research

First, I will consider the sexual misconduct policy of Wake Forest University which requires that sexual misconduct should be reported to the dean of students, Campus Advocacy and Support Services, and even the police (Wake Forest University, 2011). In this policy, the president has little influence on such behaviors and therefore cannot make decisions regarding to reports of sexual misconduct.

Secondly, I will also use the case of Saint Mary’s college of California. The college’s Sexual Misconduct policy requires that Sexual misconduct cases are handled by the college administration, so the college president has little influence and cannot make decisions on reports of such issues.

Finally, Khadaroo (2011) suggests that some universities have changed their sexual misconduct policies to include a provision given by a letter from the US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. In this letter, the time for dealing with such cases is indicated. It says that the victims and perpetrators of sexual misconduct should be accorded a good environment in their judgment and the university should deal with such cases by themselves.

From this letter, I found that it is prudent to give the students a chance to choose how their cases may be handled, in which case most prefer that decisions should be made by the college president.

References List

Khadaroo, S.T. (2011). Feds warn colleges: handle sexual assault reports properly. The Christian Science Monitor. Available at: http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Education/2011/0902/Feds-warn-colleges-handle-                        sexual-assault-reports-properly. Accessed June 22, 2012.

Miller, C. (2009). The Conditions of Moral Realism. The Journal of Philosophical Research, 34,   123-155

Wake University 2011. Student Sexual Misconduct policy student life. Retrieved from: wfu.edu/…/WFU-Sexual-Misconduct-Policy-2011-2012. June 22, 2012

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