Ethical Concerns

Written by Isaiah Banta.
Converted to Markdown by Kirk Lange.
Converted to reStructuredText by Kirk Lange.

Preamble: The CS-300-A Software Engineering Class of Spring 2018 is dedicated to developing functional and ethical software according to the guidelines of the IEEE/ACM Joint Task Force on Software Engineering Ethics and Professional Practices for the benefit of the students, staff, and faculty of Whitman College.

During the Analysis Phase of our Software Development process it was discussed as a class the primary goals and possible ramifications of developing a web app that would be used to buy and sell books on a peer-to-peer system. The discussion can be surmised in three main categories:

Demand: Is there an existing demand for such a software?

Yes. When taking into account the emails sent to the student listserv and the Facebook posts on the Whitman class pages it was unanimously agreed upon that there is a demand for such an app and that it would streamline a process that has become disorganized. Currently the only standardized solution to this problem is the Whitman College Bookstore that offers Textbook Buyback as a service. However, institutional trust in the current system is low and the Bookstore does not offer a cost efficient method. This webapp has the opportunity to circumvent such a system altogether by introducing a standardized and cost efficient solution for students.

Safety: Can we safely bring together two parties to complete a transaction?

Safety is one of our primary concerns. Although, Whitman students are already meeting at planned rendezvous locations in order to complete textbook transactions, this webapp has the opportunity to introduce a higher level of safety by standardizing the process and providing the information to already existing resources available to the students of Whitman College. Such as the Security Department and the Health Center. The webapp will also detail specific meeting spaces that are public and the timeframe in which they are publicly attended. Such as: - The Library (Open 24/7 and only accessible with a Whitman ID after 10 PM) - The Whitman Health Center (Open 24/7 and only accessible with a Whitman ID after 8PM) - Reid Campus Center (Open 8 AM - 11 PM)

Impact: What are the greater ramifications of such a software on the Whitman College Community?

It was discussed that the Whitman College Bookstore, and perhaps Whitman College Administration, may not be in support of an app that would allow students to more easily circumvent the bookstore and any revenue it may gain from the buying and selling of textbooks. As a result of this, the possibility of this webapp impacting the employment of individuals in the Whitman College Bookstore was considered. While this is an important concern, it was unanimously decided that the predatory nature of college textbook pricing far outweighed the possible ramifications of such an impact on the Whitman College Bookstore. This webapp is by no means a solution to the predatory nature of college textbook pricing, a structural problem with higher education that lies beyond the scope of this document. However, we, as a team, hope that this webapp proves to be a solution to a symptom of the larger issue.


-The Software Engineering class of Spring ‘18