Student development theory reflects the typical developmental tasks commonly engaged by young adults during the point in their lives when most students decide to pursue higher education. Most are making decisions and investing in relationships that will impact them for years to come. Student development theory provides a framework for empowering students in these life tasks.
The five ethical principles that inform our work as student life professionals are 1) Autonomy, 2) Prevent Harm, 3) Do Good, 4) Justice, and 5) Fidelity.
In the goal of autonomy, we recognize the need for students to become increasingly independent. With a clearer sense of self, students develop an increased sense of confidence and self-direction. Students must answer the question, “What does it mean to become independent and responsible?
Secondly, within this increased sense of autonomy, we must prevent harm. Safety policies (e.g. Community Standards) are designed to prevent harm to individuals and groups; safety plans (e.g. fire drills) are in place to respond to harmful situations should they occur.
However, avoiding harm is not an end in itself; we want to provide the opportunity to do good. Student Life promotes positive modeling, direction and leadership opportunities. Student groups, clubs, and events provide opportunities for students to contribute to a life-giving campus life.
Interacting within a campus context, we treat each other with equity. Student Life professionals value justice; recognizing that individuals are different, we retain objectivity in our perception of each other.
We also understand that trust is critical for developing relationships. Fidelity is reflected in our commitment to confidentiality, professionalism and knowledge of our abilities and limitations. To be most meaningful, trust and confidentiality is embraced by both faculty and students when engaging sensitive issues.