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Case 36. Dual Roles and Student Confidentiality


Professor Reza Shaw served as Dean of Students at her university, but has recently returned to the Sociology Department and taken up her former duties. In her role as dean, she had reason to counsel Felix Wrights, a student who had been involved in a heated, and disrespectful exchange with a faculty member. At that time, she had learned that this student had a police record. He had been involved in an assault on another student in high school. Before a faculty meeting in her Department, she overhears a junior faculty member, Yolanda Belton, describe an angry exchange she has just had with a student in class. Professor Belton is visibly shaken by the incident and volunteers that she is "a little afraid" of what the student might do because of the level of his anger. Professor Shaw thinks that it is very likely that the student in question is Felix Wright.


  1. What options does Professor Shaw have?
  2. What obligation does Professor Shaw have to the student she counseled whether or not she offered him assurances of confidentiality?
  3. What obligation does Professor Shaw have to her junior colleague, Professor Belton, if any?  To her institution? Its students? Her other colleagues?

Reflect on the above questions and form your own answers before clicking the discussion key to review the commentary provided with this case.