Ethics: Accepting preferential treatment

The dilemma

Everybody at Clara Barton High School knows that senior Zayna Zdrojowski has a future in Hollywood. She has done some modeling in town and even appeared in a TV commercial for the state tourism board.

When Sheri Sanders, the school’s theater advisor, announces that Beauty and the Beast will be the fall musical, everyone in the program knows Zayna will be cast as Belle, even though she’s not the school’s best singer. But then a family emergency forces her to leave town right before auditions.

Devastated, Zayna goes to Ms. Sanders and asks if she can audition late. She says it’s not possible since the cast has to be announced before she gets back. But then she says this: “Let’s just skip the audition and give you the part. You’d probably get it, anyway.”

Should Zayna accept the offer?

For discussion

Read the dilemma aloud to your Scouts, Venturers or family. Ask what initial impressions they have of the scenario.

Discuss these questions:

  • Is Ms. Sanders acting ethically when she offers to make an exception for Zayna? Why or why not?
  • If you think Ms. Sanders is acting unethically, do you think it’s fair of her to put Zayna in this position? Why or why not?
  • Will Zayna be acting ethically if she accepts Ms. Sanders’ offer? Why or why not?
  • Does it matter that she didn’t ask for special treatment? Why or why not?
  • Does it matter that she has to miss auditions because of a family emergency (as opposed to a family vacation, for example)? Why or why not?
  • Zayna is the only student at the school who’s likely to pursue an acting career. Since she’s a senior, this role could be really important. Does that make any difference? Why or why not?
  • Zayna isn’t the school’s best singer, although she’s definitely its best actor. Does that make a difference? Why or why not?
  • Given that Zayna would probably win the role of Belle anyway, does it matter whether she actually auditions? Don’t Hollywood stars get roles all the time without auditioning?

Next, invite your Scouts, Venturers or family members to share times they’ve been in similar situations as Zayna or as the other students in the theater program. Finally, discuss as a group how Zayna should respond to Ms. Sanders’ offer.

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