- Maybe I Should: Case Studies on Ethics for Student Affairs Professionals (2nd edition) ed. by Mimi Benjamin and Jody Jessup-Anger
Over a decade ago, a class assignment in a second-year master's course in a student affairs program led to the creation of the first edition of Maybe I Should: Case Studies on Ethics by Student Affairs Professionals (Hamrick & Benjamin, 2009). Sometimes when second editions are published, there is an impression that it is just the same content with a few things touched up. This is not the case with Maybe I Should. With Jessup-Anger joining Benjamin as coeditor, they have provided a timely and important resource intended for young professionals but certainly worth a read for mid-level managers and possibly senior-level student affairs staff.
The book breaks into two sections: chapters 1 and 2 focus on explaining and contextualizing ethics in student affairs work and helping readers to understand theories, models, and guidelines for exploring their ethical beliefs and those of the broader field. The second section focuses on application. In chapters 3 through 8, a number of authors address a diversity of cases across broad areas of student affairs work. A nice addition to the book is the inclusion of several appendices that provide the "ACPA/NASPA Professional Competency Areas for Student Affairs Professionals," the CAS "Statement of Shared Ethical Principles," and the ACPA "Statement of Ethical Principles and Standards." The book concludes with an appendix called "Professional Ethics Continuum Exercise," which beautifully ties ethical dilemmas back to the professional ethics statements from ACPA and CAS as well as the professional competencies of ACPA and NASPA.
In chapter 1, the reader benefits from an overview of theories. Benjamin and Jessup-Anger spend a good amount of time explaining the difference between a number of interrelated and often conflated terms such as morals and ethics. It is a mistake that many of us, even the most well-read practitioner, can make simply because societal influences on one's morals can be so strongly embedded from a very young age. Thus, approaches to enacting our personal ethics may differ. Attending to this distinction right away is important for readers, as there should be no confusion about what constitutes ethics as they wrestle with the complex and rich cases found in the book.
In chapter 1, Benjamin and Jessup-Anger also explain the importance of exploring professional ethics beyond the individual level. They address the need to examine the many issues brought forth in ethical conflict and the need to consider that ethical dilemmas are "vexing because there are multiple, plausible, right answers, and making choices, setting policies, and reaching decisions can certainly present or raise ethical dilemmas" (p. 2). They explain the ethical challenges in student affairs are unique because of the context in which they are addressed and the diversity of students and stakeholders with whom we interact. Benjamin and Jessup-Anger devote a good many pages in chapter 1 to emphasizing the importance of reflection on both the individual and contextual ethics driving decision making. [End Page 532] Additionally, they bring in the importance of professional standards, including providing an overview of ACPA, CAS, and NASPA professional ethical statements as well as referencing a few functional areas, such as ACUOH-I. The inclusion of professional statements is very helpful as readers are able to explore their own beliefs through the frameworks that guide the collective work of student affairs educators, thus they are able to better align their practice with that of others in the field.
The editors explain an important model from Reybold, Halx, and Jimenez (2008) that identified the three dimensions of ethics: regulatory (codes and workplace regulations), situated (grounded in the institution's culture and mission), and collective (those shared with other professionals across institutions due to shared codes, principles, and values). Bringing in this model, as well as the framework for decision making presented by Vacarro, McCoy, Champagne, and...