Ethics, Integrity, or does any of this matter…

I have always believed that my values define me. I believe that my moral compass is quite publicly visible. I believe that there is an ethical line that surrounds each of us and although we find that line very blurry at times, the line does exist. And yes, this all sounds so simple until it’s not.

Until today I have never yelled at a student or asked a student to leave my office – yes, until today.

I posted my grades and I know that students traditionally come knocking after the fact to see if their numeric grade could be bumped to the next alpha grade. From my perspective it is not a case of bumping grades rather it is a case of the grades speaking for the student and for the progress of that student throughout the semester.

A student asked me to alter their grade by in excess of 5%. Actually this conversation started last week and today was the culmination of at least 5 different petitions and along with these petitions came stronger and stronger pleadings for this grade change. I think the straw that broke my patience was the arrival of a friend who had a far more persuasive approach. And then it hit me what I needed to say and what I must do to put an end to this conversation; in the process, I got angry and I raised my voice.

I informed my company that they were asking me to violate my values, my principles, and my beliefs. What they were asking me to do was to throw away everything I believed in that provided a clear foundation for what made education in my college and my country valuable. I indicated that if I were to grant such a request as they were asking I might as well fold my teaching tent and walk away because from that point on, my integrity would be forever shattered. I indicated that they were asking me to disrespect a value-set that holds our system together and to throw away everything I believe in regarding the worth and value of our education system in order that they could be given something that was neither earned nor deserved. They were asking me to cease to offer value by bastardizing my principles.

I think that somewhere in my few words there might have been a pretty good rant of some nature. I was angry that I had to continue to indicate that the mark was not changing no matter what pleading or petitioning was happening and I was frustrated that it appeared that it had nothing to do with the student’s knowledge of the subject matter but it had everything to do with something beyond the bounds of an education. When I stopped to take a breath I was quickly assured that I must have misunderstood what was being asked of me. I took advantage of this diversion and asked my company to stand up and leave my office immediately – this they did.

I have spent much of my life trying to learn and to understand what life is about. Times like this cause me to question my values and my worth, but today I came to know a little more about the ethical line that defines my world.