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Don’t Wait: the Expansive Impact of Leading an Ethical Life

Another year is coming to a close, providing a time for individuals and groups on campus to reflect on the time that has passed and plan for the year ahead. Many of us will soon depart campus for internships or summer employment where the traditional realm of academic integrity might not be quite as relevant. Rather than being faced with the decision to copy a problem set or plagiarize a paper, we step out of the Duke bubble and are confronted with the tangible byproducts of leading an ethical life in very different environments - the ones we all hope to enter following graduation… the ‘real world,’ as they say.

Stepping into the ‘real world’ pushes us to consider how the values so emphasized in the academic setting can also be transferable to communities around us. We begin to evaluate relationships, cultural contexts, and incidents through a lens that is not always emphasized on a college campus, as we think about employer-employee dynamics, the communities in which we are working, and the issues we hope to address throughout the summer.

But why wait to think seriously about these topics? Issues such as inappropriate power dynamics, gender-based violence, or acts of hate and bias are not any less relevant on campus. Arguably, some might be even more relevant here than in the ‘real world,’ as has been made clear throughout an academic year tainted by multiple acts of hate speech and alarming findings from reports surrounding campus life. These values are inextricably linked to creating honorable communities and it is important to proactively target the underlying issues from the moment students step foot on campus.

Honor Council’s fundamental purpose on Duke’s campus is to foster dialogue and advocate for policy change that will create a more level playing field for members of the community - whether it be ensuring certain students don’t have heightened access to previous exams, making sure everyone’s votes are considered in elections, or working to create a campus environment that allows all students to reach their highest potential.

This year, Honor Council has broadened our focus by creating three Focus Areas - ‘Academic Integrity,’ ‘Social Life,’ and ‘Beyond Duke,’ which has allowed us to address a variety of issues and highlight the critical importance of proselytizing ethical values in every corner of life. In the upcoming academic year, Council hopes to continue these conversations about the role of integrity in regard to various campus issues - both within, and extending beyond, the classroom.

Please feel free to reach out with any questions, comments, or concerns to

This column was written by Amelia Steinbach, Trinity junior and President of Honor Council

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