Update of the ACPA Ethics Committee

Update of the ACPA Ethics Committee

Michael M. Kocet, Ph.D. LMHC, ACPA Ethics Committee
Associate Professor & Student Affairs Program Director, Department of Counselor Education
Bridgewater State University

Ethics and ethical decision-making permeate almost every facet of student affairs practice – from issues such as confidentiality, boundaries, dual relationships, cultural competency, adherence to legal statutes, and technology. These are just some of the types of complexities that professionals face each day. In addition to the ACPA/NASPA joint document on professional competencies for student affairs professionals, the ACPA Code of Ethics is a central document that guides student affairs practice. Ethics are the collective values of the student affairs profession (Pope, Reynolds, & Mueller, 2004) and the code of ethics is an embodiment of those values represented in each of the professional standards contained in the code of ethics. The ACPA Code of Ethics serves numerous purposes:

  1. to guide ethical decision-making;
  2. to help shape the work of practitioners in the field;
  3. to protect individual practitioners, institutions, those students and stakeholders served by student affairs professionals, and the profession as a whole;
  4. to help measure competent and effective practice;
  5. to affirm the public and its needs and concerns; and
  6. to be used as an educational/training tool (Fried, 2011; Pope, Reynolds, & Mueller, 2004).

As Dalton et al. (2009) state, ethics focuses on two paramount questions – What ought I do? and What is my responsibility? In order to keep up with current practices in the field, it is necessary for professional codes of ethics to be revised from time to time.

The ACPA Ethics Committee is pleased to announce that ACPA, in partnership with Student Affairs in Higher Education Consortium (SAHEC), is working on revising the current ACPA Code of Ethics. The Code of Ethics Consortium Committee is charged with creating a unifying code of ethics for the student affairs profession. Codes of ethics are not static documents. Codes of ethics need to be revised every few years in order to keep up with best practices in the field, as well as in response to current research and scholarship in the profession. There have been new and emerging issues that currently face student affairs professionals since ACPA revised the current code of ethics in 2006. This revision task force will examine the current code, keeping the standards that are still relevant, while adding new standards on issues and challenges that practitioners face in the various functional areas within student affairs. The goal is to provide a revised code that can be utilized by a broad range of professionals. The Code of Ethics Consortium Committee will look at the current ACPA Code of Ethics, as well as codes of ethics from SAHEC associations, along with other disciplines such as counseling, psychology, social work, and business in order to examine best practices in ethical practice today. The consortium committee will examine current issues affecting the profession and create new ethical standards that guide competent practice, such as the ethics of social media, cultural competency, social justice, and dual relationships. ACPA believes it is important to create a code of ethics that includes the input and expertise of a variety of higher education associations. We believe in having diverse voices at the table and will be working to ensure that the new code of ethics that emerges from our work represents aspirational ethical practice that promotes the best of the student affairs field. In the coming months, ACPA members will be asked to provide input to draft versions of the revised code of ethics. Please stay tuned to future editions of Developments for more information.

Members of the Code of Ethics Consortium include:

Bill Crockett, NIRSA (National Intramural and Recreational Sports Administrators)
Executive Director, Campus Life Operations and Campus Center
University Maryland, Baltimore

Tom Ellett, ACUHO-I (Association of College and University Housing Officers International)
Senior Associate Vice President
Student Affairs
New York University

Michael Hayes, AFA (Association of Fraternity/Sorority Advisors)
Executive Director of Campus Life
Washington University in St. Louis

Cynthia Hernandez, NODA (National Orientation Directors Association)
Assistant Vice President, Division of Student Affairs
Texas A & M University

Ryan Holmes, ASCA (Association of Student Conduct Administration)
Associate Dean of Students
Assistant to Vice President for Student Affairs
University of Texas-El Paso

Michael M. Kocet, ACPA (College Student Educators International)
Associate Professor & Director, Student Affairs Program
Department of Counselor Education
Bridgewater State University

Regina Young Hyatt, NACA (National Association for Campus Activities)
Dean of Students and Associate Vice President for Student Affairs
The University of Alabama in Huntsville

Loren Rullman, ACUI (Association of College Unions International)
Associate Vice President for Student Affairs University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

The Code of Ethics Consortium Committee is being chaired by Michael M. Kocet, Ph.D., Bridgewater State University. Professional associations who wish to be represented on the committee, or ACPA members wishing to contribute to the code revision process, are invited to contact Dr. Michael Kocet.


Dalton, J.C., Crosby, P.C., Valente, A., & Eberhardt, D. (2009). Maintaining and modeling everyday ethics in student affairs. In G. McClellan & J. Stronger (Eds.) (2009). The handbook of student affairs administration (3rd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey Bass.

Fried, J. (2011). Ethical standards and practice. In J. Shuh, S. Jones, & S. Harper (Eds.) (2011). Student services: A handbook for the profession (5th ed.). San Francisco: Jossey Bass.

Pope, R., Reynolds, A., & Mueller, J. (2004). Multicultural competence in student affairs. San Francisco: Jossey Bass.


The ideas expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the Developments editorial board or those of ACPA members or the ACPA Governing Board, Leadership, or International Office Staff.

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