Code of Ethics

Ethical practice is essential, fundamental, and integral to student affairs and services work. An individual applying for, and holding, any certification credential agrees to adhere to the Consortium’s Code of Ethics as a Certified Student Affairs Educator. The Code of Ethics is as follows:

Pursuing certification as a Certified Student Affairs Educator has three purposes. It provides an opportunity to demonstrate learning, competencies, and knowledge; it elevates the overall student affairs profession; and it benefits higher education students and institutions. As student affairs educators, in collaboration with other institutional stakeholders, our objectives include protecting the well-being of our students, fostering their individual and personal development, and teaching and learning from our colleagues to achieve these objectives. This Code of Ethics (hereafter Code) identifies ethical conduct we hope to prompt in addition to specific conduct for which certification may be denied or revoked. 

This Code is structured in three parts, beginning with ethical guiding principles, which serve as overall objectives for Certified Student Affairs Educators. The second section, ethical goals, outlines goals that serve as aspirational guideposts to motivate high-level performance in the profession. These goals pertain to contributing to the profession, higher education institutions, and students and others. The third section, ethical obligations, sets forth requirements that Certified Student Affairs Educators must meet and behavior they must avoid to achieve or preserve their certification with the Higher Education Consortium for Student Affairs Certification (the Certification Consortium), our certifying body. 

Ethical Guiding Principles 

The following guiding principles serve as overall objectives for Certified Student Affairs Educators: 

  • Act with integrity and honesty as student affairs educators.  
  • Communicate relevant and appropriate information while protecting confidentiality and privacy. 
  • Deliver quality and excellence in our work with students. 
  • Improve our competencies through continuous learning and skill development. 
  • Pursue welcoming, inclusive, equitable, and just student affairs communities. 
  • Respect the diversity and diverse identities of our students and colleagues. 
  • Support the well-being of ourselves and others. 
  • Treat people with dignity, respect, and compassion. 

Ethical Goals 

The following are aspirational goals to promote high-level performance among Certified Student Affairs Educators: 

Goals for Contributing to the Profession 

Certified Student Affairs Educators are encouraged to engage in the following types of actions to support and advance the student affairs profession: 

  • Cultivate one’s knowledge and skills within student affairs.
  • Develop ideas, conduct research, and share information within the profession to improve student affairs practices and the overall higher education student experience.  
  • Engage honestly and responsibly in professional, personal, job reference, and career communications.  
  • Exemplify and promote ethical standards in student affairs, including professional preparation and development programs.  
  • Identify and intervene with appropriate resources and procedures in crisis situations. 
  • Participate in higher education association activities, and make colleagues and students aware of the career and educational opportunities within the profession.  
  • Promote the well-being of students, colleagues, and supervisees. 

Goals for Contributing to Our Higher Education Institutions 

Certified Student Affairs Educators are encouraged to engage in the following types of endeavors to contribute to the well-being and ongoing improvement of their institutions:

  • Avoid private interests, obligations, and transactions that conflict with one’s responsibilities and work obligations.
  • Be a responsible steward of the institution’s human, environmental, fiscal, and technological resources. 
  • Pursue advancements in institutional programs and efforts that foster equity in the learning, social, and developmental experiences of students and communities.
  • Uphold institutional policies and work to identify, address, and advocate for areas of improvement. 

Goals for Contributing to Others 

Certified Student Affairs Educators are encouraged to engage in the following types of endeavors to contribute to the well-being and ongoing development of their students, colleagues, and supervisees: 

  • Communicate responsibly, whether in person, through social media, or with other technology. 
  • Consult colleagues and other qualified professionals when unsure about professional practice responsibilities. 
  • Engage other resources and professionals appropriately when individuals and situations call for it. 
  • Ensure the arrangement of accessible, safe, and comfortable physical spaces for students and staff. 
  • Honor the intellectual property of others by ensuring the accuracy of others’ work and giving proper attribution. 
  • Maintain healthy and appropriate relationships with students, clients, stakeholders, and supervisees.  
  • Represent professional qualifications, including education, professional affiliations, and relevant experiences, in an accurate, complete, and truthful manner.
  • Respect the privacy, identity, and confidentiality of students and other stakeholders as appropriate. 
  • Treat others fairly and without discrimination. 

Ethical Obligations 

Certified Student Affairs Educators must not violate the following ethical requirements in order to achieve and preserve their certification with the Certification Consortium. The requirements focus on the expectation that, in the course of their professional work and activities, Certified Student Affairs Educators are not to harm others. The Certification Consortium retains the discretion to deny, suspend, or withdraw certification of individuals who engage in the following: 

  • Acts of violence, sexual misconduct, dishonesty, or gross dereliction of duties, including when such acts result in being terminated from your professional position or being convicted of a crime. 
  • Harass, intimidate, or unlawfully discriminate against students, colleagues, supervisees, or others. 
  • Harm others by engaging in conflicts of interest or dual or multiple relationships with students or supervisees. 
  • Harm others by the unauthorized use or disclosure of personal, confidential, or sensitive information. 
  • Misrepresent your credentials, professional qualifications, achievements, professional affiliations, and relevant experiences to the Certification Consortium or to others. 
  • Put others at risk by working while impaired or in a condition in which you are unable to fulfill your duties. 

Certified Student Affairs Educators are expected to support the integrity of the certification and its significance with the following actions:  

  • Comply with the Certification Consortium’s policies, procedures, and agreements.
  • Consult and cooperate with the Certification Consortium concerning ethical matters, the collection of information related to professional ethics matters, and the established investigation and arbitration process for handling matters. 
  • Maintain the security of certification exam information. 
  • Make only accurate and approved use of the Certification Consortium’s intellectual property, certification marks, logos, and other copyrighted materials. 
  • Promptly report personal conduct that may violate any provision of the Code of Ethics or certification program. 

Development of the Code of Ethics

In 2021, a Code of Ethics Development Committee was established to draft a code of ethics for the student affairs profession as part of certification. The Committee consisted of student affairs graduate preparation faculty and practitioners across multiple levels appointed by ACUHO-I, ACUI, AFA, ASCA, CAS (Council for Advancement of Standards in Higher Education), NACA, NASPA, and NIRSA. The Committee’s work included reviewing a synthesis of ethical statements from multiple student affairs professional associations, and both large and small group work to draft, review, and refine the final Code of Ethics. The Committee voted to approve the draft Code of Ethics, which was then advanced to the Consortium Board of Directors for review and final approval.​​​​​​ Committee members' names and affiliations are available in the website Leadership and Governance section.