WEST POINT, N.Y. (Oct. 25, 2012) -- Ninety-two colleges and universities sent 200 delegates to the 27th annual National Conference on Ethics in America Oct. 14-17 at Eisenhower Hall.The theme for this year's conference was "Serve with Integrity," the motto of the West Point Class of 1970 who presented the conference hosted by the Simon Center for Professional Military Ethic.The NCEA conference presenters were both plenary speakers and mentors, including authors, lawyers, clergy, ethicists, motivational speakers, businessmen and Army officers.
Students formed discussion groups to review ethical issues they may be experiencing in their colleges and take back what they have learned to introduce the subject of ethics into their particular colleges."Rarely do students get the opportunity to discuss the topic of ethics," Patrick Sculley, Class of 1970 steering committee, said. "They may take classes, but it is a different experience to actually sit down with other students from various universities and talk about real problems they may be having at their particular colleges, such as cheating or plagiarism."Keila Jackson-Anderson, a student from the University of Central Missouri at Warrensburg, said the conference gave her ideas about introducing ethics to her school."It is very informative," she said. "Discussing honor and respect and knowing that what you do is not just for yourself, but for the greater good (in the long run.) I will definitely talk to my university to bring ethics to our curriculum."The delegates generally come away from the conference with ideas on how to form ethics training in their colleges as well as going back with a favorable viewpoint on West Point that enhances the perception of military academies.Class of 2013 Cadet Megan Maurer, NCEA cadet-in-charge, delivered the welcoming address."To me, the ethics conference is more than just an ethics conference," Maurer said. "It is an opportunity to learn new ideas, express your own beliefs and find out more about your ethical being. Being an ethical person is most important above all else because ethics is the drive behind all esteemed characteristics."Maurer said she believes it is hard to stand firm in one's beliefs and carry out what is right, no matter the critique."I feel that this conference helps students across the nation better understand that it is OK to stand out in your beliefs, it is accepted to argue your beliefs and it is encouraged that ethical beliefs lead the way you live----in collegiate, business and personal life," Maurer said.
Maurer, who also served as chairman of NCEA 2012, talked about the intent of the NCEA to the delegates."The intent of the NCEA is three-fold," she said. "The first goal is to foster a national conscience and awareness of ethical behavior in the undergraduate community. The second goal is to enhance collegiate codes of ethics and honor systems through the diversity of experience and value systems of students. The third goal is to endow students with the opportunity to discuss issues of character and integrity with business and government officials and other leaders of character across varying fields of enterprise in order to take away invaluable lessons and experiences."
Students listened to lectures from motivational speakers such as Gus Lee, best-selling American author and motivational speaker who spoke on courageous leadership, and Paul "Buddy" Bucha, Medal of Honor recipient who spoke on leadership and character under pressure."Honor, confidence, competence, integrity and compassion are the elements in leadership," Bucha said. "You have to have confidence in yourself to say 'I can lead.' However, what if you fail? When we take tests in school, and we a need a higher grade, there is pressure. When I was at West Point, they used to post your grades."When taking a test at West Point, I sat between two smart people," he said. "I looked at the test and couldn't remember anything. I knew if I just look to the left and right, I could get a hint. But I didn't. I got a zero. And they posted the test and I didn't get humiliated. No one cared about the test scores except for their own test scores. Think of how many people you know that, under pressure, cheated. When you cheat, you lose part of your soul."