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Knowledge Product Reflection 1

Products:
 Issues Papers:
o Is it okay for student affairs practitioners to drink alcohol with undergraduate
students?
o Caring for Distressed Students: How Should Problematic Behavior Be Managed
on Campus?)
 Reaction Papers:
o Being Good: A Reaction Paper on Blackburn)
o Everyday Ethics: A Reaction Paper on Halberstam
 Campus Case Study Consultation
 Assigned Readings
 Class Discussions

Class: Ethical and Practical Issues-Student Affairs
Product Author: Erin Heim
Knowledge Competency
H. Demonstrate an understanding of student Assigned readings, class discussions, and
affairs standards of practice and professional papers contributed to my preparation to
ethical standards become a student affairs professional. Course
content challenged and supported me to
develop my own individual ethical code
within the frameworks of standards and
expectations of the profession and functional
areas. Books outlining ethical philosophies
laid the foundation for their application to
journal articles and case studies describing
ethical dilemmas faced by student affairs
professionals. Reflective writing and
discourse with classmates allowed for self-
examination of the influence of personal
ethical standards and values on my
professional practice. Discussion and use of
professional and functional area professional
standards in discussion groups as well as
written assignments challenged me to align
ethical philosophy with institution and
professional policies. Reaction papers and
case study assignments provided
opportunities to apply and practice ethical
decision-making frameworks.
I. Demonstrate an understanding of current Books and articles outlining the foundation of
issues and practices in the student philosophical ethics gave me the basic tools to
affairs profession make ethically sound decisions as they relate
to current issues and practices in student
affairs. Case studies examined through issue
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papers required research into the current
ethical climate on campuses as well as the
practices used in student affairs to solve the
ethical issues posed in the case studies.

Knowledge Competency H: Demonstrate an Understanding of Student Affairs Standards
of Practice and Professional Ethical Standards

Discussions - EDHE 672: Ethical and Practical Issues in Student Affairs, consisted of weekly

discussions. I found that the course environment fostered honest, respectful dialogue. Through

their insightful comments and questions my classmates encouraged thoughtful, intellectual

discussion of ethical issues in student affairs.

The subjects included:

 Sharing of ethical dilemmas (personal and professional) and how our personal ethical

foundations influenced the way we handled those dilemmas

 Using case studies as examples for analyses of ethical impasses, offering a personal

account of how one’s ethics influence one’s decisions in that dilemma and examining

one’s response against that of a scholars in the world of ethics

 A debate about whether ethics can be taught

 Sharing of ethical philosophies and how they resonate with one’s own ethical framework

and where these ethical theories may be used in decision-making

These discussions were central to creating a community in the class where I could share ideas

and beliefs with classmates and be exposed to different ways of thinking about the subject.

Asking questions of others, challenging their ideas (and having the same done to me) forced me

to analyze the origins of my ethical foundations as well as those of others to get a 360 degree

view of all the ways to approach an ethical dilemma. Throughout the course class participants’
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discussion post responses were influenced by their personal philosophical approach (Cultural

Relativism, Subjectivism, Religion, Ethical Egoism, and Social Contract Theory). My responses

were usually rooted in the social contract theory as I believe that our actions are governed by

what is best for society. Others subscribed to the same theory for different reasons or interpreted

it differently or a different approach all together. Reading the reasons why those approaches

resonated allowed me to “lean in” and ask myself why I agreed or disagreed with someone using

relation as a foundation or subjectivism. Questioning why I felt differently made me look deeper

at beliefs and biases I hold. That exposure to diverse perspectives made me stop and think when

interacting with students and not jump to conclusions about them, but to question where their

own philosophical beliefs come from and how they influence their decision-making and the way

they see the world. This has been extremely useful in “getting into the head” of my students to

see issues associated with college from their perspective. Seeing it from their point of view

makes it easier to build rapport with students as well as help to problem-solve using solutions

which “fit” in the world view.

Reaction Papers - Reaction papers centered on the courses required readings, both of which

offered an introduction to ethical philosophy and applications to real-life. The papers required

an examination of key points made by the author. The authors often used relatable situations and

experiences which helped me articulate common ethical impasses, many of which I did not

realize are influenced by my moral foundations. For example, I always believed that decisions

regarding morality and ethics were based on reason. However, the author points out that reason

does not always play a part in ethical development. Knowing that gives me a better

understanding of why people may make ethical decisions that I see as being unreasonable,

because they are decision made based on preferences or emotion.
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By describing my personal response to the reading, which includes confirming or

challenging my opinion on the topic based on personal and professional ethical principles – I was

forced to examine the origins of my personal ethical foundations and their influence on how I

handle ethical issues in my practice. For instance, the author describes threats to ethics, one

being the death of God. This threat gives a name to a belief I already held, that subscribing to

ethical guidelines is the right thing to do and not because a god decrees it to be. This is why I

abide by ethical and legal guidelines in my professional practice, because it is the right thing to

do for the student, not because of a rule or policy which tells me to do the right thing. Reflecting

on the philosophies which describe the way humans view and use ethics exposed me to many

ways of thinking about what ethics are to different people. I thought about seeing conflicts and

differences of opinion from different standpoints. I believe this will help me be more empathetic

to others and look for all the possible outcomes of a decision of an ethical dilemma. For

example, a students who had a learning disability, PTDS, and a TBI, which resulted in

accommodations through the university, was struggling in one of his final courses for his degree.

He felt that the instructor was not responsive to his needs and that the teaching assistant was not

treating him with respect or fairly compared to the other students. Instead of dismissing the

student as being needy or trying to make excuses for poor performance I asked questions about

his expectations, why he thought the class would go a certain way, how those expectations were

different from reality and how the situation made him feel. Then I reached out to the instructor

and the teaching assistant and asked the same questions. I put aside assumptions about all parties

and worked towards understanding how their perspectives influenced the situation. Once I heard

from all the parties it was clear that this was an issue of communication. The student and the

instructor misinterpreted the student’s actions, and vice versa. Their previous experiences did not
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include students like this one – so a frank conversation with all parties resulted in clear

communication and expectations. The student felt hear and understood and the instructor felt

respected.

Campus Case Study Consultation & Presentation - After learning about ethical frameworks

and theories, reflecting on my personal ethical foundations, examining case studies of ethical

impasses, the Campus Case Study Consultation & Presentation provided me the opportunity to

utilize what I had learned in the course. For the assignment I analyzed and provided advice

regarding an ethical situation faced by a Student Affairs practitioner, the dilemma stemmed from

allegations made by a student employee of Ram Ride and whether the student could/should be

terminated. Using the assigned readings, discussion posts, and professional standards I evaluated

the ethical situation and formulated a response for the Student Affairs practitioner who shared

their ethical dilemma. Using moral themes discussed in class, such as fairness, justice, and rule

following, outlining the conflict which made this an ethical dilemma (i.e. termination of student

vs not terminating student), and identifying the stakeholders, consequences of choices and the

alternatives, and theory (utilitarianism, the virtue approach, etc.) I decided it would be ethical to

terminate the employee. This was an extremely valuable exercise as I was able to walk in the

shoes of a person who holds a position I would someday like to hold. I got a sense of the types of

decisions that have to be made in student affairs administration. Methodically working through

ethical considerations, repercussions of decisions, alignment with ethical philosophies and

professional/university standards I was able to present a solution that did not solve all the

problems of the case study, but was the most ethically sound solution. A big take-away from me

was the difficulty in making a decision when legal issues are involved. On one hand there is the

student affairs professional response to a situation, which for me is it work with a student to help
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them understand the consequences of their action and use the experience as a teachable moment

before letting them go. However, the legality of firing a student in this case, prevented the

student affairs professional from firing the student and meeting with them to discuss what

happened. It is a struggle to find the middle ground where you do what is right for the student,

developmentally, and doing what is best for the university.

Knowledge Competency I: Demonstrate an Understanding of Current Issues and Practices
in the Student Affairs Profession

Issue Papers - Issue Papers gave me an opportunity to analyze a current ethical issue in student

affairs and/or higher education, focused on a case study and an ethical situation. One issue paper

asked us to respond to whether it is okay to drink with undergraduates. In another, I examined

the current issue of caring for distressed students and managing their problematic behavior on

campus. Both papers required me to delineate the ethical issues of each situation. This meant

examining the dilemma from multiple perspectives - the students’, faculty/staff, parents, and the

campus community. The issue papers challenged me to present both sides of the current issue

being discussed, even if I did not necessarily agree with them, and state my conclusions. My

conclusion needed to be reinforced with professional ethical standards or frameworks from one

of the professional associations in student affairs. In the case of whether or not it is appropriate to

drink with undergraduate students, I applied the concept of fidelity in student affairs (A Council

for the Advancement of Standards Ethical Principle) in weighing the ethics of the question.

Fidelity means avoiding conflicts of interest or the appearance thereof, and by refraining from

engaging in any activity that may be seen as questionable with a student. Application of these

standards is extremely useful as a tool for making decisions in an ethically murky situation on

campus. By examining situations in the context of current standards and practices in student

affairs and using professional and functional area professional standards I was able to develop
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and articulate my own ethical code for use when an ethical dilemma presents itself in my

professional career.

Directed Readings - The course’s directed readings focused on ethical philosophies from the

time of Socrates all the way to more modern philosophers like Hume. Learning how and the

factors which influenced their development illustrated to me that individual and group ethical

values and principles evolve with time, knowledge, experience, interaction, and introspection.

Ethics are often a product of their time and society. The ethics of student affairs will evolve with

the culture and times of the higher education setting. As society loses faith in higher education

institutions, it will be even more important for universities to be ethical in the way they spend

money, mange resources and report their successes. The use of big data will provide ethical

questions and changes to policies as concerns over student privacy arise, which will require

higher education institutions to reexamine the ethics and policies surrounding use of student’s

private information. The professional take away in the context of the evolution of ethics in

student affairs is to always pay attention to changes, notice how society changes and how this

may influence how I make a decision regarding ethical issues in my professional life.