By Chris Evans, Pre-Business Freshman
On April 23, 2010, students from high schools in Tucson piled into McClelland Hall to participate in the annual High School Ethics Forum, directed by Dr. Paul Melendez, funded by our sponsors at PricewaterhouseCoopers and supported by the Eller Board of Honor and Integrity. In this event (which also took place in Phoenix, AZ, captured students from San Jose, CA region and spanned across several counties), students had the opportunity to share their thoughts and perspectives on questionable ethical situations that take place every day in the modern world. Each student sat at a round table with six or seven other students, along with one or two EBHI members acting as facilitators to the discussions. Also, a few of the representatives from PricewaterhouseCoopers were gracious enough to participate in the conversation, sharing their experiences in the financial world and the huge influence that ethics plays in conducting good business. I acted as one of the facilitators and worked with a PwC employee, and it was an exciting experience.
Each person was given a packet containing three ethical cases that are ongoing and current in today’s society. After reading it, the students and facilitators were given time to create discussion amongst their table. For example, the first ethics case involved video-game company Take 2 Interactive, which is responsible for the controversial and violent Grand Theft Auto franchise. After they read the one-page summary, the facilitators would ask questions that would encourage debate and a deeper understanding or thought of the situation; such as who the stakeholders were or whether or not they would invest in the company if given the resources. Each table then selected a spokesperson to represent the table and explain their standpoint on the issue or any agreement that the table came to as a whole. The second case involved using the well-known social networking site Facebook as a tool for employment and recruitment efforts, which was a very hot topic for high school students. It was fun to see seemingly-shy people burst out of their shells to defend their beliefs on what they perceive as right or wrong, ethical or unethical. The third case, which involved Negative Equity of homeowners and the crucial decision of whether to “hold or fold” or home mortgages, was slightly more difficult for students to grasp; however, with a little help from the facilitators, the debate was soon hot and every student at the table wanted to express their thoughts.
After the three cases an appetizing lunch was served, and the forum was capped off with an appearance by Patrick Kuhse; a renowned motivational speaker who shared his personal experience in the business world and his struggle with ethical standards throughout his career. For the entire hour and a half that he spoke, not once did he lose the attention of a single person for a single second. Kuhse told us of his wild travels through the business world, where he went from being a kingpin on Wall Street to a fugitive being chased by Interpol, and eventually learning the true importance of happiness; his family, passion, and the significance of ethics in every decision you make. All in all, the entire High School Ethics Forum was a wild success, thanks to the gracious support of PwC and the hard work of the Eller Board of Honor and Integrity and Dr. Paul Melendez.