An acquaintance, a professor of philosophy at a small public university, is planning to hold his prewedding bachelor party at a strip club. Should someone who represents a university, someone paid to instruct young women, participate in the commodification of the bodies of young women? Can he guarantee that he treats young women as individuals in the classroom when he pays to watch women their age strip? It is legal for him to attend strip clubs, but is it ethical? -- Name Withheld
Nobody should attend strip clubs, those purveyors of sexism as entertainment. Strip shows are to gender what minstrel shows are to race. But while I endorse your conclusion about these sad displays, I don't think much of the argument that gets you there. College professors do not have a particular obligation to shun them.
A professor out and about on his own time does not "represent a university"; he is only himself. To argue otherwise suggests that an employer has a broad right to limit what employees do off the job. This may be acceptable in strictly circumscribed cases involving conduct that directly and incontrovertibly imperils an employee's ability to do the job. (Some professional sports teams contractually forbid players to ride motorcycles, for example.) But to invoke more extensive prohibitions invites paternalism. It was not so long ago that employers demanded temperance or church attendance from workers. (Henry Ford was particularly vigilant.) It would be lamentable to revert to such a state.
It may turn out that visiting strip clubs does make this guy a worse professor, but the way to determine that is directly: Evaluate his teaching. Because the professor cannot "guarantee" that his off-duty activities will not influence his work -- how could anyone possibly do that? -- the burden is on the school to confirm that its professors, all of them, do a good job, something that certainly includes treating each student with respect.
UPDATE: The professor held his bachelor party out of state so as not to run into any of his students, which can be seen as both an attempt to avoid doing professional harm and a declaration that attending a strip club could do just that.
A student in a college class I teach asked me to accept her late assignment contrary to my policy. She said cheating was rampant in class. I responded that if she gave me specific information regarding cheating, I might reconsider my decision. She did, and when I examined the assignments of the students she identified, I corroborated her assertion. I charged those students with violating the honor code and accepted her late assignment. Were my actions ethical? -- Name Withheld, New York
Countermanding your own policy on late assignments to reward a squealer was a poor choice. While the police sometimes pay for information and a judge might mitigate the sentence of a talkative offender, the criminal-justice system is a poor model for the classroom. (Mercifully, few scholars wield billy clubs.) Your late-assignments rule presumably serves a pedagogic purpose, or you wouldn't have instituted it. To waive it detracts from the education of the informant herself and encourages unseemly bargaining between teacher and student.
This student should speak up about cheating because she deems it right to do so, not to leverage a better grade. What's more, once you learn that there is cheating in your class, you don't need the names of particular miscreants. You can simply re-examine everyone's recent work or institute procedures to deter future cheating.