Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - 31

debates may seem easy enough on the
surface, but when, as a professional,
ethical decision-making is put into
practice, what once was a black and
white world suddenly has more than
50 shades of grey. So, while these
questions may resemble a pop quiz
from the television show "The Good
Place," where doing the "right" thing
earns individuals points toward
their eternal reward, in reality they
are the type of ethical quandaries
student affairs professionals can find
themselves in most every day.
How does one know the right thing
to do? Institutions may offer ethical
guidelines to staff, and professional
associations can establish some
guidelines. For example, ACPA's
Statement of Ethical Principles &
Standards reads, "No statement of
ethical standards can anticipate
all situations that have ethical
implications. . . . Ethical principles
should guide the behaviors of
professionals in everyday practice.
Principles are assumed to be constant
and, therefore, provide consistent
guidelines for decision-making." The
ACUHO-I Principles and Standards
for College and University Student
Housing Professionals includes the
simple statement that housing
officers act "with integrity, dignity, and
competence."
Though these statements offer
general guidelines, there is little in the
literature or the curriculum of student
affairs practitioners on specific ethical
considerations within the field. In their
book about good practices in student
affairs, Gregory Blimling, Elizabeth
Whitt, and associates even went so
far as to state, "Unfortunately, higher
education has in recent years neglected
its historic commitment to building
character, values, and a commitment
to responsible citizenship. . . . values

IS IT OKAY TO
TAKE AN ENTIRE
DAY OFF AS
SICK TIME WHEN
YOUR DENTIST
APPOINTMENT
WAS ONLY AN
HOUR? DO YOU
DISCIPLINE AN
EMPLOYEE WHO
SKIPS THE LAST
CONFERENCE
SESSION OF THE
DAY? IS IT OKAY
TO ACCEPT A GIFT
BASKET FROM
A LONG-TIME
VENDOR?
and ethics must occupy a larger role in
the decisions, policies, and practices
influenced by student affairs."
Curious about how ethically student
affairs professionals would act in a
variety of scenarios, the authors, along
with Ryan Greene, developed an online
survey presenting several different
ethical situations and distributed it
to higher education colleagues. More
than 500 professionals from 44 states
responded. The full IRB-approved
survey included 11 scenarios dealing
with topics such as accepting gifts,
travel, purchasing, and hiring, each

drawn from real-life experiences.
Their original hypothesis was that
responses to the scenarios would skew
in such a way that 80 or 90 percent
of respondents would "do the right
thing." However, the results for nearly
every scenario were closer to a 60-40
or even 50-50 percent split. What
became clear is that professionals
in positions of leadership need to
formalize their ethics guidelines
by having conversations, setting
expectations, having clearly written
policies, and enforcing compliance.
Simply expecting people to do what
is right will likely not end well. And,
while most colleges and universities
have procedures overseeing issues
such as purchasing and travel, the
study showed that, in the absence of
an official policy, participants were
increasingly divided in their responses.
While it is not possible to regulate
every situation that employees may
encounter, discussing ethical behaviors
and their ramifications can help
identify potential issues and prevent
unethical behavior.
The survey presented a number
of scenarios typical in the world of
student affairs. For example, the
survey asked many questions about
how staff should respond to gifts that
they receive from students, parents,
or vendors. In one scenario, a staff
member received complimentary
tickets to a big name entertainer
performing on campus and decided to
sell them for face value on a ticketreselling website. Is this behavior
ethical? In this case, 79 percent of
respondents believed it would be
unethical while 61 percent believed
giving the tickets to someone they
know would be acceptable. In another
scenario, a professional helps a
student through a challenging
situation as part of their normal
job responsibilities and, shortly

JANUARY + FEBRUARY 2019

31



Talking Stick - January/February 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Talking Stick - January/February 2019

Talking Stick - January/February 2019
Vision
Just In
Calendar
Your ACUHO-I
Transitions
Res Life
Academic Initiatives
Special Focus
Underlying Expectations
Private Matters
Conversations
First Takes
Around Student Affairs
New Members
Snapshot
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - Intro
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - BB1
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - BB2
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - Talking Stick - January/February 2019
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - Cover2
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - 1
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - 2
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - 3
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - 4
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - 5
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - 6
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - 7
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - Vision
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - 9
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - Just In
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - 11
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - 12
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - 13
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - 14
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - 15
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - 16
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - 17
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - Calendar
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - Your ACUHO-I
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - Transitions
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - 21
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - Res Life
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - 23
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - 24
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - 25
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - Academic Initiatives
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - 27
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - 28
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - 29
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - Special Focus
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - 31
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - 32
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - 33
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - Underlying Expectations
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - 35
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - 36
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - 37
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - 38
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - 39
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - Private Matters
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - 41
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - 42
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - 43
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - 44
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - 45
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - 46
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - 47
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - Conversations
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - 49
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - 50
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - 51
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - First Takes
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - Around Student Affairs
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - 54
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - New Members
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - Snapshot
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - Cover3
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - Cover4
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - CCover1
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - CCover2
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - C1
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - C2
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - C3
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - C4
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - C5
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - C6
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - C7
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - C8
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - C9
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - C10
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - C11
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - C12
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - C13
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - C14
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - C15
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - C16
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - C17
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - C18
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - C19
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - C20
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - C21
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - C22
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - C23
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - C24
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - C25
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - C26
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - C27
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - C28
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - C29
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - C30
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - C31
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - C32
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - 95
Talking Stick - January/February 2019 - 96
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