Ethics Quiz: When Ethics Alarms Don’t Ring And You’re A Drunk College Senior

Sophia Rosing, 22, a University of Kentucky student, was drunk. Really drunk; drunl as a skunk, as the saying goes. As she tumbled into a campus dorm lobby, the student at the front desk, Kylah Spring, tried to stop her, because Rosing had not presented her ID. The besotted senior launched into tirade against Spring, physically attacking the young black woman while calling her a “bitch” and a “nigger,” the latter over 200 times.

When campus security arrived, Rosing kicked and bit the officers as they tried to place her under arrest. University Police were finally able to take Rosing into custody just before 4am. She was charged with public intoxication, assault and disorderly conduct.

The incident was, of course, videoed and posted on social media. Rosing is out on bail, but she will certainly face criminal penalties.

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day is….

Beyond the criminal penalties, what are fair, just and ethical consequences for Sophia Rosing now?

To put it succinctly, should this episode destroy her life?

The double business and marketing major was fired by fashion brand Dillards had hired her to work for them after graduation. Once her rampage went “viral,”it fired her, saying, “Dillard’s does not condone this behavior. Her relationship with Dillard’s has been terminated immediately.” Black students and other on campus are demanding that Rosing be expelled.

Should any college student have her future permanently scarred by a single incident? Is this episode signature significance for an irredeemable human being? Other details in the news report indicate that she is, at very least, an epic jerk. Still, doesn’t the Golden Rule have some relevance here? Being a jerk in college is not necessarily proof of a lifetime disposition.

In some respects the quiz question is academic. I suspect Rosing’s life will be permanently shadowed by what she did that night in a drunken rage. Calling someone a “nigger,” drunk or sober, is cause for social shunning. What company would hire her? Who will be courageous enough to associate with her? Rosing’s best option may be to change her name, get plastic surgery, gain 50 pounds and move to Bosnia.

Maybe she deserves such a fate. What do you think?

11 thoughts on “Ethics Quiz: When Ethics Alarms Don’t Ring And You’re A Drunk College Senior

  1. At the very least, she needs to dry out (maybe via Alcoholics Anonymous?) and never ever drink to excess again. Once she’s off the bottle and has finished her degree (whether at the University of Kentucky or at whichever less-prestigious college will take her after this), she’ll need to restart the job hunt, possibly setting her initial goal lower than the post she had previously been offered at Dillard’s, and preferably in a different part of the country where her recent conduct hasn’t made her as notorious (within the constraints of whatever criminal penalties she ends up with).
    Delving just a bit into fantastical ideas for ways she could reinvent herself, some country’s Foreign Legion (where they don’t ask questions about one’s past) or a religious order with a track record of accepting penitents as postulants might be viable alternatives to plastic surgery, a name change and moving to Russia.

  2. FIRST: Ms Rosing needs to nail a Number 1 Apology as stated on the Ethics Alarm Apology Scale …and nail it like a gold-metal gymnast. It is stated here:

    1. An apology motivated by the realization that one’s past conduct was unjust, unfair, and wrong, constituting an unequivocal admission of wrongdoing as well as regret, remorse and contrition, as part of a sincere effort to make amends and seek forgiveness.

    Ms. Rosing owes such an apology to Ms. Spring, every student in her dorm, the school, and her parents. She needs to recognize the mess she created, then work to clean it up, and clean up her life. If she fails to do at least this much, she will never achieve the success she may well be qualified to accomplish.

    As for Bosnia? maybe. But I would not suggest Russia. In Russia, she could find herself joining what’s-her-name in prison for nine years, where even sincere apologies will get you nowhere.

  3. The action by Dillard’s seems excessive, unless Sophia herself dragged their name into it. As for her expulsion or suspension, if I was whoever was in charge of that, I’d consider factors such as other incidents, and how remorseful she appeared to be when coming in for her hearing.

    • Agreed. Acting drunk and stupid is a common failing among college students, but remorse and whether or not this gal has a track record of acting drunk and stupid should be taken into consideration by the university. (Although this young woman may want to finish this academic year via remote learning if possible, just to avoid any fellow students who might want to be harder on her than the university.)

  4. Wait. She didn’t successfully resist arrest? She didn’t just run away because she was afraid of the police and told not to trust police? The police detained an unarmed young person who’s going to graduate from college? Did she have to post bail or is she out on no cash bail? Shouldn’t someone from the School of Social Work have been dispatched to defuse the situation? Isn’t it a micro-aggression to be asked for identification?

  5. The short answer is No, it should not ruin her life.

    However, I would not frame this issue in terms of the Golden Rule, because people would say, “well, I would never say such a thing and, if I did, I would deserve to be pilloried in the town square, and have an R branded onto my forehead.” The Golden Rule tries to force you to think about others in ways you would think about yourself; this is not always helpful because people often think too well of themselves.

    The better way to think about this issue would be in terms of proportionality, as it takes one emotional subjectivity out of the equation (hopefully). She acted awfully; she said awful things; her actions were criminal; she should be punished; she should be embarrassed; she should apologize (at the very least to the victim, perhaps others).

    But, at the end of the day, this is a drunk college student engaged in what my state would likely classify as a handful of misdemeanors. Absent the racial slurs, some race hustlers could have played up the race dynamic if there was money to be made. With the racial slurs, it got wider publicity even though, really, this is an insignificant incident of little note outside of the local news.

    Unfortunately, the internet and social media have no concept of proportionality. I looked this piece up on Facebook and there are some people who have vowed, in essence, to stalk her for the rest of her life so that this incident is never forgotten, as if Sophia Rosing is some kind of Nazi refugee hiding out in Argentina. One person compared this incident to the shooting of Breonna Taylor though, apart from both of them being in Kentucky, I fail to see any kind of valid analogy to be made between these incidents.

    -Jut

  6. She’s screwed. A video recording of her calling a black peer a nigger and then resisting arrest and assaulting the police is on the internet, which never forgets. Either one would make me nervous about having her as an employee.
    I think she can forget about anything that involves speaking.
    She could become a truck driver.

  7. Has anyone seen The Green Knight?

    I think it was one of the best movies from this last year. There are a lot of morals about honesty, and honor.. “What it takes to be a knight”. But I think one of the low key morals that people don’t understand from the movie is the idea of mortal sin. People here might call it signature significance. Ken White might call it the rule of goats.

    There are some things that someone does, where regardless of their intentions, regardless of the context, regardless of how hard they work to better themselves, regardless of how successful they are in that endeavor, stain for life.

    As an obvious example: If you cut off your arm and throw it into a woodchipper, it doesn’t matter how young you were, how drunk you were, whether cutting your arm off saved someone’s life, or how great a prosthetic you replace it with, your arm is gone, and it’s never coming back.

    As a very spoilery example (Spoiler alert, obviously… Spoiler Spoiler Spoiler) – If you challenge a supernatural being who can’t die to a head-chopping version of roshambo, it doesn’t matter how hard you run, how hard you work, or how honorable you become, after you accept the contest and chop his head off… He’s going to chop yours off next.

  8. The ethical thing would be for her to be subject to whatever written rules the university had in place at the time (presumably they’re nearly as egregious as her behavior, given the modern university), and be charged with battery (which she was, etc…) and let it run that way.

    It’s unethical for the student on the receiving end to demand the university do anything not in accordance with it’s rule set.

    Inmates running the asylum and university administrators allowing it is what begat the lunacy we see on lots of campuses today.

    Dillards gotta do what Dillards gotta do, can’t blame them.

    In 6 months, nobody will care (given the frenetic pace of news cycles, etc), but I don’t think she’s getting out of the charges, and they’re probably not going to plead it down, so those will follow her longer than the “media scrum”.

    It’s an ugly world out there.

  9. I agree with Dillard’s terminating their contract with Ms. Rosing. Having an employee yelling nigger on film is damaging to the brand. I disagree with the University of Kentucky expelling her. She paid for an education, and unless there is a clause that all students have to sign stating that they’ll never be caught uttering racial epithets, she should be allowed to finish her degree.

    If Ms. Rosing does not take steps to address her alcoholism, I would say that this incident should haunt her for life. If she does work to fix this issue, she should be given a second chance.

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