Sunday, September 2, 2012

Student Affairs

If you ever want to spice up your life, try making an unpopular stand to your friends just to see what happens.

This week at the end of a study session with my study group of about eight, I told them what I felt about downloading and distributing illegally acquired study materials. My words went something like, "Because I believe that tolerating a behavior is just as bad as participating in it, I will no longer by tolerating illegal file sharing. I have an appointment with the head of student affairs right after this meeting and I will tell him what's going on. I don't think it's fair to you to name names this time but if I see or hear of it happening again, I will." This was followed by a stunned silence as everyone shuffled out.

In my meeting with student affairs, I expected to be stretched on the wrack or at least bribed in exchange for the names of the offenders. On the contrary, we spent our time discussing the art of motivational conversing - having difficult conversations with people you care about. They seemed to be less than enthused with the hammer approach I used. I thought it was pretty neat that their goal was to provide me with the tools to police my profession. They suggested that I try again and think about what it is I want to have happen. I decided that in the short term, I wanted my friends to delete the files. In the long term I want to protect their careers from culminating in fraud and embezzlement, but mostly I wanted them to do the right thing because it's the right thing to do.

Luckily, I had my chance a short time later when one of the offenders approached me and initiated the conversation.

"Hey, I just want to know where you are coming from."

"Well, I want you to know I'm on your side. We both know it's wrong to use something without paying for it. In fact, it's indefensible. I want to ask you all what you thought and where you were coming from, but it seemed everyone was anxious to leave."

"I need it, but I'm not in a position to afford it because of what's going on up stairs in financial aid with our money. There is also the issue of the dropbox and the pdfs getting passed around. I have First Aid on pdf and there are tons of files like that going around. We all have things we struggle with. Can you say that you have been perfectly clean your whole trip to Lebanon?"

"I don't really see how my imperfections excuse yours, but I can tell you that I have legitimately earned my place to be here and I have never cheated. If you see me doing something wrong, I would hope you would let me know."

"So, I just wanna make sure we're friends."

"We're cool, bro. Are you going to delete the files?"

"Are you going to report my name?"

"I already told you that I wouldn't this time."

"Well, I respect you for sticking to what you believe."

The conversation ended, but I still felt like I failed. I wish I hadn't come off so hard during the first encounter and that I hadn't promised not to name names. I think what I did was right, but it could have been done better. I wish that it hadn't been necessary. I wish Marianne Jennings were my shoulder angel.

1 comment:

  1. I'm not at all surprised the administration didn't want to take a hardline approach to that issue. On the one hand it's nice they want to empower you, but on the other hand it sounds more like they are saying it's not an issue they really care about and that they don't truly think it's worth the hassle of disciplining anyone. It's not susprising that pirating is such a rampant issue at all medical schools when I have yet to hear about an administration that really cares about it.

    I'm impressed by your courage. I also agree you might have handled talking to your friends a bit better :) You give me lots of food for thought about what I should do.