My 5:00 AM Epiphany

So the Legal, Ethical, and Policy Issues in Higher Education class is going well. I’ve been learning a lot but its definitely gonna take another week to really process everything.

Entering the class, I was really nervous. I’ve never really taken a law class before, and as we have been going over the case studies assigned to us each day, it seems more daunting that no matter what, I will encounter law suits in my career when dealing with whatever college or university I am serving.

However, while I was laying in bed at 5:00 AM (don’t ask me why I was up) I had a mini-epiphany; It’s not our job as Student Affairs professionals to simply avoid  these issues, although minimizing the opportunity of them should be a key factor as well as understanding how to handle them and understanding the legal and ethical ramifications. Some situations and legal issues can be avoided by deciding not to accept the liability or to be pro active in preventative measures, however, in my experience and as the case studies in class show, sometimes situations will occur, and the legal, ethical and policy issues are just there, and we have to deal with them.

Education, training and open communication seems to be a great way to minimize and get in front of a lot of legal and policy issues. However, as silos across campus are built up, territories are claimed and the loss of the real core purpose of the institution and higher education is lost in the everyday muddle, issues and students fall through the cracks and hence a fertile ground for many of our lawsuits to grow.Sometimes students and parents will sue anyway, but isn’t it worth the effort to minimize the intensity and sheer number of law suits whenever possible?

I suppose it depends (haha…a lawyers favorite term, according to one of the professors) on the institution, their perspective on handling situations and upholding their policies and being compliant with statues and so forth. I’m not quite sure what type of administrator I will be as I move in that direction, (a good one I hope though) however at this point in time, I think I would  do everything I can to be pro active in getting ahead of legal and policy issues. In my perspective, these situations, and sometimes lawsuits, will come, and keeping a cool and logical head, and keeping in mind the purpose of the institution, of higher education and being accountable for actions and individuals that I am responsible for is where my perspective and stance will be when these situations and tough times occur.

So, as I’m moving through this class, the fear of a lawsuit is lessening, while the confidence in being able to identify and minimize these issues is growing.

Courtesy of

Just a thought I had EARLY this morning lol.

Until next time!

Peace, Love and Pandas!

Published by Brian

I am currently the Assistant Director of Student Life for Registered Student Organizations and Late-Night Programming at Michigan State University. After earning my B.A. from the University of Michigan-Flint, I entered the Student Affairs profession. After a few years in the field, I returned to school and earned my M.A. in Educational Leadership-Higher Education Student Affairs from Eastern Michigan University. In my spare time I blog about my thoughts and musings on current issues in higher education, student affairs, digital worlds, identity development and general life inspirations and observations. I also volunteer a lot for my fraternity and multiple regional and national professional associations.

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