Although previous studies examined the ethical dilemmas faced by student affairs administrators (Janosik, Creamer, & Humphrey, 2004; Janosik, 2007), no such study explored the ethical dimensions of administering student conduct. The purpose of this mixed method study was to identify the ethical dilemmas experienced by student conduct administrators and to test the applicability of Kitchener's model as a framework for resolving ethical dilemmas. Also examined were the theories, professional codes, and core values informing ethical decision making. Further, the study explored possible correlations between knowledge of ethical principles and codes, and actual use of the ethical principles and codes. Finally, the study inquired about the amount of graduate school training in ethics. A national survey with open-ended questions and Likert-scale items in Survey Monkey was disseminated online to 1,595 professionals belonging to the Association for Student Conduct Administration (ASCA) in February 2011 yielding a 24.38% response rate. Results were coded using qualitative techniques (Tesch, 1990) and uploaded into PASW, Version 18, formerly called SPSS, for analysis. The results indicated that sexual assault cases, situations involving athletes, demands for preferential treatment, and alcohol/drug policy enforcement most often pose ethical dilemmas. Categorical grouping of ethical dilemmas fit well under Kitchener's principles, particularly justice. Student conduct administrators reported relying most heavily on their professional code of ethics, personal values, cultural perspectives, institutional mission, and legal ramifications to resolve dilemmas. There was a significant correlation (p < .01) between the extent of respondents' knowledge of ethical theories and frequency of use. Only 5% of respondents reported receiving "very extensive" ethical instruction in graduate school.
Date of Degree
Doctor of Education (EdD)
Dowd, M. C. (2012). A national study of the ethical dilemmas faced by student conduct administrators. [Doctoral dissertation, Minnesota State University, Mankato]. Cornerstone: A Collection of Scholarly and Creative Works for Minnesota State University, Mankato. https://cornerstone.lib.mnsu.edu/etds/84/
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License