THE QUESTION: In a light-hearted discussion over sports, a professor nonchalantly makes a joke about “throwing like a girl” which delivers spontaneous laughter from everyone. Erin, one of the students from class, shares with you later that she was offended by the comment, and is considering reporting it to the Office of Community and Ethical Standards (OCES). She has experienced the negative effects of sexism personally, and believes it’s important to take a public stand in this type of situation. You really like the professor, and don’t want him to get in trouble.
WHAT’S YOUR ANSWER?
A. Anonymously share Erin’s plans with the professor, and suggest that he apologize to avoid any trouble.
B. Explain to Erin that it was just an innocent joke, and encourage her to not “make a mountain out of a molehill.”
C. Agree that she has a point, but discourage her from filing a formal complaint, and suggest she meet with the professor.
D. Offer to accompany Erin to speak with the professor. Surely, he will see the inappropriateness of the joke, and apologize.
WHAT’S MY ANSWER?
I picked C. Agree that she has a point, but discourage her from filing a formal complaint, and suggest she meet with the professor.
Often, times like these are miscommunications. Encouraging Erin to talk specifically with the professor allows for the opportunity to share perspectives. Erin can help the professor see her context for the situation, and help him prevent the mistake in the future. It also teaches Erin how to manage conflict and navigate crucial conversations. If the professor is a good, likeable teacher, it would be a shame for miscommunication to take away the opportunity for students to learn from him in the future.
Well, what do you think? Agree? Disagree? Let me know your answer and why in the comments below.
Click here to read an evaluation of this Dilemma from Fulvio Di Blasi, a world-renown scholar in the field of applied philosophy and business ethics.