A Case to Ponder from the Professional Ethics Committee
It's the start of the new semester and you are teaching a technology-heavy class that uses the latest electronic pedagogical gadget: the tricorder. Tricorders are very expensive and you feel badly that the students will have to buy one; however, you have a plan that will minimize the cost for the students. Since you're a professor, you get a forty percent discount on tricorders. You decide to buy enough tricorders for your class and sell them directly to the students yourself, passing on the savings. You plan to make no profit from the sale; after all, you're doing this to ease your students' financial burden.
Professors ought to avoid ANY kind of financial exchange with students, even those as seemingly innocuous as the one mentioned above. It is unethical, in part because it could very easily negatively affect the student-professor relationship. It is illegal as it violates LACCD Board Rule 9700.1
9700.1 FINANCIAL TRANSACTIONS WITH STUDENTS. Faculty members are prohibited from engaging directly with students in their classes in the sale or rental of required or recommended materials or activities charges. When a faculty member wishes to distribute classroom materials for which students are required to pay, the faculty member shall use a voucher system through the College's bookstore or business office and must substantiate that the materials are being provided at cost. Faculty members are prohibited from engaging in other financial transactions with students, except to facilitate participation in voluntary, extracurricular activities, such as theater trips or sporting events. In that case, the faculty member is required to provide appropriate accounting and receipts upon request to the supervising administrator.