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Case 15.1: Choosing a Research Assistant

Dr. Angi Dirks must select a summer research assistant. Four candidates were identified, and Dr. Dirks seems to prefer Roberto and Michelle because they both have flexible schedules over the summer. Roberto is an international student who receives high course evaluations, is well-liked, and needs a job to help pay for school. Michelle is an exceptional graduate student who plans to pursue a PhD, but does not seem to need the income from the summer work as much as some of the other candidates. Carson receives excellent grades, is high achieving, cares for his family, and works outside of school. He could use the income, but Angi seems unsure about his flexibility due to other demands on his time. Finally, other faculty at the college are encouraging Angi to select Analisa, a person of color who feels isolated in a largely white environment. Analisa is an excellent researcher and could be a great asset to the project. Giving her the job may help Analisa feel included, but it may also create accusations that Angi gave Analisa preferential treatment.

Answers to questions:
1. Of the four options available to Angi, which is the most ethical?
2. Using the principles of distributive justice, who would Angi choose to become the research assistant?
3. From Heifetz?s perspective, can Angi use this decision to help her department and faculty face a difficult situation? Should she?
4. Do you agree with Burns?s perspective that it is Angi?s responsibility to help followers assess their own values and needs in order to raise them to a higher level that will stress values such as liberty, justice, and equality? If so, how can Angi do that through this situation?

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