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Case 98. Clueless


Sam Cooper, a new Graduate Assistant in Introductory Sociology, is enthusiastic and well-prepared. He has gone the "extra mile" in having office hours, in meeting students outside of class to discuss their assigned projects, and in preparing materials like study guides and "mock-ups" on projects. He has let students know that they should feel free to call him at home and often calls them to follow-up on questions they have asked him. In the course of one of these conversations, Sam informs one of the female students in the class that he is "available" and, if this student should ever be "interested", she should let him know. The student calls the Department's Undergraduate Advisor and then Department Chair to report "sexual harassment". When called in by the Chair, Sam says that he did not know that there was any problem with this, that he is single and that he is well-intentioned regarding this woman. 


  1. What are the ethical issues in this case? 
  2. What should the Department's response be?
  3. What courses of action could the Department have taken to prevent such situations?

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