Code of Ethics | Schools Out Series

It’s still summer and I can see my breath as I sit staring at the grey linoleum floor in this shoebox of brick walls they deemed my office. There is barely any room for my desk let alone space for me to guide my students if they ever need help. But this is what I’ve worked so hard for, I guess. All the research, all the experience, all the…


The sound of tapping glass startles me. Instead of a normal door I’m offered the scaping view of the hallway with my french doors. Thankfully I was smart enough to place curtains over the doors for some type of privacy. Looking at the clock I realize office hours don’t start for another fifteen minutes and I haven’t had one student requesting help in over three weeks.

“Come In” I say as I wrap myself tighter in my cardigan.

“Professor?” I hear as the door opens and in comes my teaching assistant. She’s so young I wish I still had the elasticity of her smile, but I’m afraid my face wears my thoughts too much. Taking a deep breath, I relax into my chair as she stands in the doorway of my office.

“Hi Ashlyn.”

“I’m sorry I didn’t mean to scare you. But I have been having an issue with one of the students.”

Trouble with a college student, a graduate student to be fair. With how much money they are investing in their future you would think that the trouble would be our timeline for grading.

“What’s the problem?”

I could see her trembling as if she has been threatened and unsure of where to even begin.

“Who is the problem? Let’s start there.” I suggest, gesturing for her to take a seat.

Ashlyn is small but with what I know about her she is fierce. Top of her class, numerous publications in her field of research, on the board at the local hospital; her credentials don’t match her age.

“Cara Matthews,” she said with a whisper as if there was a wiretap somewhere hidden on my desk.

I’m not sure if my face went white or if it was burning with fury. Cara is my archnemesis with little leverage. But that didn’t stop her, despite my warnings.

“What is she doing?”

“Professor, she wrote a paper about you.”

What? How? I grab the paper from Ashlyn’s hands that she held up in front of me.

The Unethical Stance of Business by a Business Professional, the title read in bold letters.

“Jesus Crist…” I leaned forward as I saw the title. “Was this her midterms topic?”

“Yes, she selected business ethics as her term paper in the beginning of the class. I didn’t know she was going to write this.”

“She’s not allowed to,” I said turning the pages.

“There is more,” she said sheepishly as I glared down at the pages of double spaced font. “She had her abstract submitted to the paper.”

“What paper?” I looked up.

“The business school paper, they are looking for submissions currently and I’m on the editorial staff. I figured you would want to know before it was published.”

“IT’S BEING PUBLISHED?” I scream as if that would make it click inside of my numb thoughts on what this means for my reputation.

“I can’t retract it. I wasn’t part of that decision process.”

How could this be happening? I made a deal with her. Or at least I thought I did. Pacing the small space behind my desk was not going to give me clarity on this topic.

“Ashlyn, I appreciate you telling me.” I guess in all honesty this is better than being blindsided by the news or even having my class look at me differently come tomorrow. “I will speak with the student myself about the situation.”

“Thank you, professor,” she said getting up from the chair and making her way toward the door. “She’s wrong, by the way.”

“Thank you.”

I watched as the door latched behind her. I wanted to use this as an example. A way of proving things wrong. Sitting down I open up my lesson for the week.




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