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Name: Joshua Ford

Class: Ethical and Practical Issues in Student Affairs

Product: Ethical Case Study with International Programs
Primary Competencies Addressed:
Knowledge Competency:

C. basic understanding of legal, contractual, and liability issues involved in college student

affairs practice
D. cross-cultural and diversity related issues within the context of higher education
G. student characteristics, demographics and attributes and how they influence students'

education and development

H. student affairs standards of practice and professional ethical standards

Professional Competency:

II. A: adherence to and value for personal and professional ethical standards through ethical

II. E: ability to work with others within a team context.

III. B: a willingness to engage in sustained dialogue in order to reach an understanding of the

issues presented.

Ethics Case Study Reflection

This reflection is based on an experience acquired through the Ethical and Practical
Issues in Student Affairs Course. I had the opportunity along with two of my colleagues to speak
with the Director of Education Abroad, Laura, with the office of International Programs (IP).
When my colleagues and I met with Laura, she shared with us a real ethical dilemma that she
had faced in her work. We were tasked to serve as ethical consultants applying theories and
practices learned in class to advise on a possible outcome for Lauras ethical issue. Tools we
used to support our decision were Nashs questions for ethical dilemmas and the CAS standards
for ethical practice.
In short, this scenario involved a graduate student conducting research abroad in Brazil
who was held captive on the farm she was working at, by armed robbers. The ethical consulting
team needed to decide what actions we would take as an institution to respond to this incident.
An added dilemma was that there was a chance that future students would return to this site
utilizing grant money to continue research. Therefore, our team needed to determine what
decisions would be made for future research at this site. After listening to Laura explain the
details of this situation, my team took some time to discuss what solution would be best.
Considering liability and legal concern being a knowledge competency, it is important to
recognize the liability CSU holds in this scenario. We took into consideration that CSU is a risk
tolerant institution. Laura explained that at a risk tolerant institution we do not forbid working
and researching in high risk areas. This does not mean that we send students into high risk
situations without question; we are able to take the necessary precautions that are needed for the
environment. This could even include providing security to the student. Serious consideration
was placed on the well being of the student on the farm. We asked, Does the graduate students
wish to stay override our immediate concern of removing the student from the farm? What

immediate needs does this student have? What is the immediate emotional well being concerns?
Will removing the student impact her ability to complete her research and graduate on time?
What are the benefits to the community if this research is able to continue? It is important as a
student affairs professional to always lead my work from a place of care. My supervisor Robin
reminds me, Care, then liability. In this situation asking about the students needs is the piece
of care. I have to consider the students emotional needs after a traumatic incident but also her
educational needs: Will the student be able to graduate on time or finish their thesis if I pull her
out of this project? After asking these questions of care I need to consider the liability of the
university in this scenario. The university knew that this was a high risk environment when they
approved the travel. Approving a students travel to this location was already accepting some
liability on behalf the university, but as mentioned CSU is risk tolerant. Security measures were
considered when placing this student. The new liability question is if we leave this student on
the farm now that we know there is a higher risk at this specific location, is the university
responsible if another incident happens. The university is also willing to consider student
demographics when making decisions about international placements. The level of risk we
would accept for an undergraduate student is less than we would accept for a graduate student.
Further, the risk we accept for a graduate student is less than that we accept for faculty doing
research abroad. This graduate students level of development and status at the university plays a
role here. For example: an undergraduate student would not have been permitted to remain on
the farm alone, whereas for the graduate student this was accepted.
There are some diversity and social justice issues to consider in this scenario. The United
States State Department determines the travel warnings and risks for each country. This is not
always done impartially. For instance there are countries that should be considered a risk, but

because of trade and relations with the U.S. the State Department does not issue warnings. There
are also ethical considerations to consider when placing college students abroad to do research.
There needs to be consideration for community impacts and benefits in return for providing the
requirements of the research. Additionally, students need to learn about culture and safety in
areas of the world culturally different than the students place of origin.
My teams work consulting with International Programs proves we have demonstrated
our desire to consider all stakeholders involved in this scenario. To the best of our ability we
acted in accordance to the universities interest, the students interest, and the interest of the

International Programs Case Study

Henry Duong, Heidi Stuckert, and Josh Ford
The Scenario:
A CSU professor has a long standing relationship with a farm in Brazil and has
conducted research there previously. The Office of International Programs approved
a CSU PhD student to conduct research at that farm as part of their dissertation.
The farm was taken over by armed men on a day when the farm owner usually pays
the workers in cash. The CSU PhD student and farm workers were held at gunpoint
and forced into a room. They did not hear the gunmen for a few hours so one of
them bravely peeked out the window and noticed that the gunmen left. No one was
physically injured in the incident. CSU was notified of the incident the day after it
happened. The student does not want to leave Brazil. Additionally, the CSU

professor has applied for Fulbright funding which would bring more students back
this location.
Applying the Nash ethics problem solving guidelines:
Major moral themes
Risk management, safety, relationships, reputation, benefits of research conducted
Conflicts that make this an ethical dilemma
Is CSUs liberal risk management policy too risky?
Is the research so valuable that it outweighs the risks?
This student is already invested in this research.
Liability and safety

Major stakeholders
CSU, PhD student and their family, faculty member who has a relationship with the
farm, the community in Brazil
Foreseeable consequences and alternatives
If the student is allowed to stay: The student is in danger if the armed men return.
If CSU asks the student to leave: Potential damage to the relationship between the
CSU faculty member and the farm. Also, potential damage to the students research.
Fulbright funding: If approved, other CSU students and faculty will return to a
dangerous location. If denied, alternative locations will have to be located.

Important background beliefs

CSU is very risk tolerant of study and research abroad
CSU faculty member has a longstanding relationship with the farm

Initial intuitions and feelings

Pull the student out, its no longer safe there
Finish the research and fulfill our commitment to the student, the community, and
the research

Professions code of ethics

ACPA and CAS standards informed our decision
Our decision
Let the student to stay and finish their research but send the faculty member. Notify
the students emergency contacts of the situation. Do not approve Fulbright funding
but investigate and provide alternative locations.
Application of CAS Ethical Principles:
Non-Malfeasance: Do no harm. Collaborating for the good of those we serve.
We took into consideration that the student abroad wants to finish the research as
does the faculty member. By removing the student we may be impacting her ability
to graduate on time. The community in which the research is being done is also
benefiting from the research well as the additional communities that this would
spread to.
Beneficence: Promote goodness and welfare of others
We have considered the wishes of the student in allowing her to stay to finish out
the project. However, to ensure the welfare of the student we have required that the
faculty advisor returns for the remainder of the stay.
Justice: Promote dignity and quality for all
By hearing out the opinion of the student we have respected her right to an opinion. By
contacting the students emergency contacts we have allowed that space for an opinion

as well. We also have eliminated barriers to learning by requiring that students in the
future should not return to this site. The danger that is involved clearly impedes on a
students ability to have a successful experience.

Fidelity: Faithful to obligation, trust, and duty

By not allowing students to return to this site even with the grant, we are exercising
good stewardship of resources. If work at this site is interrupted again and at the
expense of safety, this is not a good use of funds.
Veracity: Convey truth through words and actions
By contacting the emergency contacts for this student we are relaying necessary
information to the people impacted. We strive to respect the confidentiality needed
while also communicating all relevant facts.
Principles that do not support our decision:
Autonomy: Empower an individuals freedom of choice
We are not allowing future students to return to this site, and discouraging the
faculty from using this site for future research. Through this, we have limited
freedom of choice.
Affiliation: Promote connectedness and foster community
We have effectively severed ties with this farm, thus breaking a strong connected
the university had abroad.
College Student Educators International. (2006). Statement of Ethical Principles and
Standards. Accessed from myacpa.org/au/documents/ethicsstatement.pdf
Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education. (2012). CAS
professional standards for higher education (8th ed.). Washington, D. C.: Author.
Nash, R.J. (1997). Teaching ethics in the student affairs classroom. NASPA Journal, 35(1).