However, it’s also true that everyone laughed at the joke, and that the professor is clearly likable. Sometimes jokes, even if not totally appropriate are not a big deal, and it’s wise not to exaggerate their unintended meanings. Going directly to the Office of Community and Ethical Standards (OCES) without talking to the professor first may be overreacting (Good Judgment). The professor deserves understanding and attention (Caring for Others), particularly in the case of a professor who is valued and reasonable. It is appropriate to give him the benefit of the doubt and an opportunity to redeem himself. Advising Erin to talk to him first is good advice. Offering to accompany her is a better action in terms of Friendship and Self-Confidence.
Special Circumstances to Consider:
- If the professor was a woman wittingly laughing at herself, with no implication whatsoever of women being inferior to men.
- If the context of the joke made it clear that there was no implication of men being better than women, or things of that nature.
Read Fulvio Di Blasi’s full bio here.