Academic journal article Journal of Business and Behavior Sciences

Ethical Decision Making Model for Student Protests: A Governance Perspective

Academic journal article Journal of Business and Behavior Sciences

Ethical Decision Making Model for Student Protests: A Governance Perspective

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

In countries such as South Africa, mass protests are a means for some citizens to express their frustrations. Students in higher education institutions also engage in protests if management does not attend to their demands satisfactorily. Students approach their respective student leaders and request that they organize a protest that will put pressure on management in order to address their needs. However, there is no adequate model in these educational institutions guiding student leaders on whether or not to protest.

The objective of this paper is to suggest an ethical decision-making model for student leaders. Student leaders are faced with fundamental questions such as 'what should we do?' and 'how should we act?' in their leadership. The answers to these questions are not always straightforward. The answers might lie in ethical decision models. The model explored in this paper is intended to assist in conceptualizing ethical problems and reaching a properly grounded decision about how to proceed. The foundation of most decision-making models is moral philosophies, theories and principles. However, the situations in which the said leadership finds itself may be complex, raising the necessity of looking beyond just moral principles. Various academics agree that management of crises and disaster in public and the private sectors may be the hardest tasks (Boin,'t Hart, Stem, and Sundelius 2005; Drennan and McConnell 2007; Helsloot et al. 2012; Rodriquez, Quarantelli, and Dynes 2006; Weick and Sutcliffe 2001). It is therefore necessary for student leaders to have necessary tools even before the crises arise. Their tools may include the use of the model that will assist them to be ethical, fair and honest when making decisions. The model will guide student leaders in making moral decisions whether to protest or not to protest.

THE NEED FOR AN ETHICAL DECISION-MAKING MODEL

Student protests are happening globally and they can be violent. According to the Mail and Guardian (2014), at the beginning of 2014 the president of the South African Students Congress (Sasco) called for mass action by South African university students as an expression of their grievances over the South African government financial aid scheme, the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS). The students called for NSFAS to pay all previous years' outstanding fees so that students would be able to register for the 2014 academic year. Students from Durban University of Technology (DUT), Vaal University of Technology (VUT), Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), Mangosuthi University of Technology (MUT), University of Johannesburg (UJ), University of Kwa-Zulu Natal (UKZN) and Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) participated in the protest. During these protests, seven (7) UKZN students and twenty (20) UJ students were arrested for violent behaviour (Beaver, Mail & Guardian 2014). The worst that can happen during such violent protests is that people losing their lives. During a 2012 protest at Walter Sisulu University in South Africa, a twenty-year-old student died (Timeslive 2012). It is, therefore, important for student leaders to give proper guidance to their constituents concerning protests, and to urge the avoidance of violence at all costs. During an interview with the president of the Local Student Representative Council (LSRC) at TUT Garankuwa campus, he confirmed that the LSRC does not use any formal model in decision-making. He agreed that there is, indeed, a need for a model that will assist student leaders in making moral decisions concerning organised protests. Student leaders are continuously faced with the ethical dilemma of whether or not to protest as per the request of their student group and need to take into account certain factors when deciding whether to protest. Factors such as; reasons for the protest, whether or not the timing of the protest will not disturb the studies and academic calendar. …

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