ACPA’s New Ethics Consultation Service

ACPA’s Governing Board recently approved a new ethics consultation service as designed and proposed by the Ethics Committee. This service to ACPA members will be available immediately following this spring’s ACPA 2010 Convention in Boston. The ethics consultation service is designed to provide interested members with confidential consultation and advice regarding options for addressing ethical issues and concerns they may be facing in their professional work. The goal of the Ethics Committee in offering this consultation service is to assist individuals in thinking through and addressing their issues/concerns in an informed, effective manner.

Appendix A of the ACPA Statement of Ethical Principles and Standards provides general guidance on addressing professional ethical concerns. First, it is suggested that a private conversation be initiated with the individuals and/or parties concerned to attempt to collaboratively resolve the ethical concern. Second, if a private conversation does not adequately resolve the matter, it is recommended that institutional colleagues and resources be consulted for further assistance in addressing the ethical concern. ACPA members are also invited to contact the Ethics Committee Chairperson if they wish to receive additional consultative advice on their ethical issue or concern. The new ethics consultation service offers an organized process for this assistance.

The Ethics Committee will utilize ACPA’s Statement of Ethical Principles and Standards (available at the Ethics link on the ACPA Web site) as well as other relevant sources of ethical information to consider what insights and advice to offer the inquiring member about his/her/hir particular ethical concern. It is important to note that the Ethics Committee’s response to the inquiring member(s) is for use only by that member(s) in his/her/hir consideration of the ethical situation and/or concern presented to the Committee. The consultation provided is confidential and provided exclusively for the educational benefit of the member(s) requesting advice.

The Purpose and Procedures for Ethics Committee Consultations on Ethical Issues/Concerns is reprinted below. A program entitled “ACPA’s New Ethics Consultation Service” will be presented at the upcoming Boston Convention on Tuesday, March 23, at 4:15 pm in the Marriott, Boston University room. This program will present further details and answer ACPA member questions about utilizing this new service. Additionally, an open meeting of the Ethics Committee is scheduled on Tuesday, March 23, at 10:00 am in the Marriott, Grand Ballroom – Salon D. At this meeting, the ethics consultation service will also be discussed as well as other on-going projects of the Ethics Committee. Interested ACPA members are encouraged to attend one or both of these important sessions.

Please send inquires and feedback to Michael Ignelzi at [email protected].

Purpose and Procedures for Ethics Committee Consultations on Ethical Issues/Concerns


In 2004, the ACPA Executive Council asked the Ethics Committee to study and recommend revisions to the 1992 ACPA Statement of Ethical Principles and Standards. In 2005, the Committee recommended changes to the Principles and Standards that were approved by the ACPA Executive Council in 2006. One section, Appendix A, outlines a procedure that provides for ACPA members to consult with the ACPA Ethics Committee for advice about ethical concerns.

At the request of the ACPA Executive Council to expand on Appendix A, the ACPA Ethics Committee produced this document detailing the scope and procedures available to members requesting consultative advice on professional ethical issues and concerns.

This document was approved by the Governing Board at their meeting in November 2009.


  1. Committee Charge: An important purpose of the Ethics Committee is to provide ACPA members with consultation and advice about options for addressing concerns that are expressed regarding professional ethical issues. Similar to the way Student Affairs professionals provide consultation to students seeking personal advice – but leave to other entities any determination of right and wrong – this Committee, in its educational role, serves to consult and provide advice about ethical situations and issues that are presented by ACPA members. In short, the Committee provides consultation, advice and guidance for ACPA members facing ethical issues. The goal of this consultation service is to assist the individual(s) in thinking through and addressing his/her/hir ethical issue/concern in an informed, effective manner. No specific complaints will be received, adjudicated, or decided by the Ethics Committee. Further, the individual(s) requesting advice must look elsewhere if interested in pursuing redress, discipline, or an official recognition of their concern.
  1. Committee’s Review Procedures: ACPA members seeking consultative advice should contact the Ethics Committee Chair. They should identify themselves and describe any ethical issues or situation on which they seek consultation, but without identifying any alleged wrongdoer. The Ethics Committee will not respond to anonymous requests for advice, however, the identities of those requesting consultation will be kept strictly confidential. The Committee Chair shall contact his/her/hir choice of other Ethics Committee members to discuss and consider the ethical issues raised. At his/her/hir discretion, the Chair, acting on behalf of the Ethics Committee, may also consult with the ACPA Director of Equity and Inclusion (who oversees the Committee on behalf of the ACPA Governing Board), the ACPA President, the ACPA Executive Director, and/or legal counsel.

After working in collaboration to provide any perspective(s) offered by the ACPA Statement of Ethical Principles and Standards and any other selected sources of relevant information, the Chair will provide a timely response to the inquiring ACPA member(s) that conveys the Ethics Committee’s insights and advice. This may be provided in written or oral form (or both) at the discretion of the Committee.

  1. Restrictions and Records: Contact between the individual(s) requesting consultation/advice and the Committee is confidential. Neither the fact that the Committee was contacted, the names of any people discussed, nor the Committee’s insights and advice (whether written or oral), is to be discussed or cited by the Committee members, the inquiring member(s), or by anyone else, including any person in question. The Ethics Committee’s response is for the inquiring member(s) use only, not for disclosure to or use by others, including specifically not for transmission to any individual or entity reviewing the ethical conduct of any person in question. To be absolutely clear, advice provided by the Ethics Committee is service to individual(s) requesting consultation and is not to be used for evidence of the correctness of any particular perspective or to be construed as any type of “expert testimony.” That said, the Ethics Committee Chair shall keep confidential records of the inquiring member(s), the nature of the inquiry, and any advice or guidance that was provided. Additionally, a numeric count of requests for consultation and a general summary of the types of concerns/issues raised will be submitted yearly to the ACPA archives.
  1. Committee’s Educational Responsibilities: The Ethics Committee is expected to help educate the membership about professional ethics including the ACPA Statement of Ethical Principles and Standards, and the Procedures for Ethics Committee Consultations. The Ethics Committee is also charged to periodically review and recommend any advisable changes to those Principles/Standards and to these Procedures. The consultative process and procedures described in this document are consistent with the Committee’s educational mission as well as its charge to assist members in working to resolve professional ethical dilemmas.

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