Code of Ethics in the Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

d.). Therefore, it is obvious that the field of activity of education is much more concerned with the interpersonal relation between the student and the teacher, thus between human beings, than any other field of work. This is why it is important to consider the ethical issues and problems that may arise in such relationships because depending on the gravity of each situation it affects the psychological level of the individual.

The next section of a code of ethics and conduct is represented by the values, rules and norms of the respective institution. These are important because, in fact, they are the actual content of the code of conduct. In general terms, these include the core values and principles which will guide the actions of the institution. These however depend on the activities in which it is involved, thus in positions requiring the access to personal information, the issue of privacy and confidentiality, of the disclosure of information, and that of maintain records and information are cited as essential for the code of ethical behavior (Ethics Research Center, 2008). In schools and universities, such values and principles include academic responsibility, non-preferential treatment of students, academic integrity, and honor (the University of Waikato, 2006; Howard University, 1998; University of Southern California, 2004). These values and principles are meant to have a double role. On the one hand, they represent a declarative set of ideas which guide the university, and on the other hand, although they lack a legally binding nature, they are a set of norms students and faculty members, regardless of their position, are bind to uphold.

A different section of a code of conduct is destined to the identification of the substantive matters each environment is faced with. This issue, unlike the previous set of values and norms, is more precise in its provision. Thus, in the academic world, these include especially practical norms related to the use of academic facilities, to the proper behavior of both students and staff members, to the academic integrity, and, one of the most important aspects, to the forbiddance of the use of academic resources with the aim of obtaining personal financial gains (Howard University, 1998). This is an important aspect relevant for all activities, not only the academic ones; for instance, to those engaged in public offices, it is a mandatory obligation that they refrain from any personal gain as a result of the use of public facilities. This provision sets the limit for their behavior and at the same time it ensures that they do not illegally benefit from the possible advantages their own position may offer.

Despite the fact that such general elements may differ in terms of their content, they do have a common source of motivation. This is related to the generally accepted idea of equality, fairness, and respect for the members of the community. The issue of equality can be explained through the idea that individuals are by nature and there should be no action taken against such a principle. From this perspective, all students in a faculty should and must be treated according to their own merits and in full respect of their academic capacities. Thus, an equal treatment of students demands on the one hand a non-discriminatory academic policy, and on the other hand, a correct and honest way of academic assessment. This is also connected to the idea of fairness in the academic environment because the stipulation of such a provision draws the attention on the possible actions one might take against another individual, be it student or academic staff that would prevent them for benefiting from a fair and equal treatment, based on personal merits.

In most cases, codes of conduct and ethics are results of the initiatives of the governing body of the organization or of a special committee designed to deal with ethics and academic behavior. For instance, it may be the Board of Trustees or the Commission of Ethical Conduct which draws the general lines of the code and which is responsible with its implementation and supervision. However, there are a number of people who contribute to the drafting of such codes of ethics. In some cases, even the representatives of the students can contribute with ideas and proposals. They are in fact the voices of the individuals that are directly targeted by the provisions of the code and the inclusion of the students' representatives is in fact a democratic process.

Aside from the declarative purpose of a code of conduct, it is important that such set of rules be physically applicable and feasible. No doubt that underlining issues such as academic integrity or fairness are important for the input they offer; still, without a proper practice of such issues, these remain simply declarative aims. This is why it is important to create a certain discipline among all those involved in the activities and create a spirit of respect towards such norms.

Indeed there are cases in which the code is broken due to various reasons. On the one hand, the misbehavior of the individuals, students, teachers, professors and administrators determines such norms to be dissolute. However, an additional factor is the little visibility of the code of conduct for the students and administrative staff, as well as professors. Most of the times, students are now aware of the propositions presented in the codes of conduct and ethics which makes them unable to follow the norms. However, the directions imposed are very often posted on the Internet and on the pages of the institutions in order to enable all parties interested to consult them in case of necessity. Nonetheless, most of the issues presented in such codes of conduct are based on the precise nature of morality and common sense, thus even though they may not have direct access to the document, students and professors are rarely in breach of them.

It is possible that not all the employees are aware of the codes containing the good practices of a university or an institution. For instance, there is a certain rule of conduct and academic integrity which forbids students from cheating and plagiarism. However, despite the fact that students are aware of the possibility, there are cases in which they do make mistakes because they do not know the actual content of what cheating and plagiarism means according to the rules of academic integrity of the respective university. At the same time however, should they be interested in these issues, they are allowed access to this information and they can prevent such incidents that could even result in the expulsion of the students.

The ones that do have total access to the code of conduct are the ones that establish the guiding principles and values of the institution. In this sense, the Board of Ethics of the management of the University are the most interested to apply the norms. Even so, there have been cases in recent times when despite the code of ethics inside companies, irregularities do occur and at the highest level. A relevant example in this sense is the 2003 Boeing scandal which concluded with the resignation of its Chief Executive (Wayne, 2003). This scandal included allegations that funds from the company were used by the administrators of Boeing to their own personal gain. Furthermore, the financial arrangements made throughout their activity implied the fact that money from taxpayers was also used for personal reasons. In this case, it is clear that certain ethical norms were broken despite the fact that the administrators and the decision making bodies were well aware of the code of ethics practiced in every major company, especially at Boeing. Unlike the case where the students cheated without intent, in the Boeing situation the ethical issue played a major role and it was the result of a premeditated breach of the code of ethics. This is why it is considered that the resignation of the one responsible put a stop to the immediate scandal. However, "Washington military analysts said Mr. Condit's departure would send a strong signal to a Pentagon that takes ethical lapses seriously," therefore underlining the fact that ethics in business is important, as in every other area of activity.

As the world is in a constant change, so are the norms and values of the society and the different areas of work and activity. From this perspective, the codes of conduct and ethics must cater to the needs of the individual in the current society and must be at all times able to respond to those needs. However, taking into account the fact that the moral values and principles codes of conduct rely on, most ethical issues do not change, as well as moral virtues and principles. This is why most codes of conduct are not renewed on a regular basis, but rather at a longer period of time. In most cases however, they…

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