Bioethics Blogs

Recommendations and Resources Exploring Faculty Responsibilities Toward Students in Distress

On November 18, 2015, the Center for Ethics Education and the Institutional Equity and Compliance Office hosted discussion with Fordham faculty and teaching fellows entitled “Exploring Faculty Responsibilities Toward Students in Distress.” This seminar featured brief presentations by Fordham faculty from different departments and an illuminating discussion about experiences, challenges, and opportunities for faculty encountering students in distress.

The recommendations that resulted from the discussion are now available on the Center for Ethics Education website. In addition to the recommendations, this site also includes guidelines and resources for handling students in distress.

One set of issues addressed in the seminar concern the following reporting obligations:

  • How should faculty handle their reporting obligations when they learn a student has been a victim or perpetrator of sexual harassment, rape or other forms of sexual violence?
  • How should faculty respond when they have knowledge of a hate crime committed on campus or by students or faculty?

A second set of issues concern what types of interventive actions are appropriate when a faculty member is told or suspects a student is distressed as a result of mental health issues, substance use, or family, economic or life stressors, etc.)

  • How can a faculty member act in helpful ways that do not violate responsible student-faculty boundaries?
  • How should faculty address distress communicated in class papers and other writing?

These situations require thoughtful reflection on the most appropriate way to respond, balancing our commitment to Cura Personalis–providing not only for the student’s academic needs, but for other aspects of their well-being–while also ensuring that our actions are appropriate and do not overstep the boundaries between student and faculty, potentially creating harm.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.