Journal of College & University Student Housing Vol. 47 No. 3 - 21

Group Process as a Tool

touch-point between candidates and department personnel which may aid retention of
selected candidates (Trice & Foster, 2006)
as an element of onboarding and socialization to the role and profession. Group process can enhance departmental engagement
with current student staff if they participate.
Group process, particularly the carousel
approach, is a collaborative effort within a
department and sometimes across multiple
departments. In this way, group process can
reinforce department and institutional values. Finally, where possible, including campus partners extends their knowledge of RA
candidates and the department in general
and may foster stronger relationships within the student affairs staff.

ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS
In our experience as residence life and housing practitioners, many students and staff
find group process to be enjoyable. There
is a high level of excitement and liveliness
around bringing eager RA candidates together and the touch of anxiety seems to add
to the positive energy. We have long questioned, though, if feeling good about this element of the hiring process reflects a sound,
effective, and ethical method.
	
In relation to ethical behavior, the student
affairs profession often relies on the work of
Kitchener (1985), wherein she described five
principles that can be applied to decision
making and professional practice. We will
note first, that these principles, as with similar codes of behavior, " are heavily influenced
by the dominant national values " (Fried,
1997, p. 19). Thus, they may not well represent non-majority morals and ethics. Both
the Council for the Advancement of Standards (2015) and the ACPA-College Student
Educators International Statement of Ethical Principles and Standards (ACPA, n. d.)
18

The Journal of College and University Student Housing

rely heavily on Kitchener's principles. Our
interest is in the intersection between ethics
and group process, specifically the extent to
which group process aligns with Kitchener's
five ethical principles.
	
The first principle is Respecting Autonomy, which includes two elements: the right to
act with agency and self-determination and
" freedom of thought or choice " (Kitchener,
1985, p. 20). For example, a college student
might not be able to change a course assignment but has the liberty to determine how
they respond to it. This principle suggests
that students have a right to make their own
decisions but must also respect others' choices. The reverse is true as well. Staff must
respect students' decisions, even if deemed
unacceptable for other reasons.
	
In a group process, participants' may be
restricted by the logistics and activity guidelines, but they are technically able to leave or
to express themselves as they see fit. However, one might note that social acceptability,
unspoken peer pressure, and the desire to
perform in ways that are likely to result in job
offers may influence candidates so that they
may not feel free to behave or speak as they
truly wish. Overcoming this may be difficult.
	
Doing No Harm is the second ethical
principle and concerns avoiding physical
and psychological injury to others. According
to Kitchener (1985), this is an active stance
where practitioners both address emerging
situations but work to prevent them in the
first place. Though we might not expect a
group process to cause physical or psychological injury (outside of activities that involve
risky physical movement, which should, of
course, be avoided), a closer look is useful.
Unintentional harm may arise via particular
activities, as in setting a task that involves
reading without recognizing that some participants may have dyslexia. The content of a



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