By Emily Wells
“What is truth?”
That is a reoccurring question I’ve heard posed to me and my classmates many times since I’ve been at Montreat College. I distinctly remember my freshman English class getting into a lively debate about the question, and we still talk about it today. The issue, though, is that “truth” can mean many things to many people. So, how can we decide what truth is? And when we know what it is, how do we behave truthfully?
These are the questions that Montreat College business students were faced with when they attended the College Ethics Symposium in Hilton Head, S.C., in October. At the symposium, college students learn to develop ethical decision-making skills in preparation for the workplace. While there, students are given 12-15 cases that they are responsible for looking at and studying. Each case presents questions for businesses, non-profits, and ethics. When students arrive, they are split into groups, with no two colleges going to the same group. Students are assigned to be discussion leaders for certain groups to facilitate conversation. The purpose of these discussion groups is to reveal how people see truth. It isn’t all hard work, though. Students get to take a beach trip and a dolphin cruise during their time at Hilton Head—and a shopping trip on their way back home.
Dr. Hub Powell takes Montreat College students every year. He says one of the benefits of students attending the symposium is that they escape the Montreat bubble. Since a majority of the other schools that attend are not faith-based, he says that it is the perfect opportunity for his students to figure out the question: “How do people with a different worldview than us process things?” He says, “Ethics are defined differently by different people and how they define what is good, bad, right, and wrong. Our students need to see that not everybody thinks like us and that is why we need to be as vocal and active in our space as we possibly can. The world not only needs ethical businessmen and women, but it needs exposure to the Gospel.”
The trip is primarily for junior and senior business majors. This year, three business students and one music business student attended. Nate Lowe, a senior, thoroughly enjoyed his time at the symposium. “The College Ethics Symposium is a great way for students to be involved with their peers from around the country in a conversation on ethical behavior,” he says. “While focused on business, the symposium opens doors for students to discuss other topics, as well, such as ethical family living and ethical relationships. My facilitator was a great leader and conversationalist, so I had a great experience discussing my feelings and beliefs.”
The Montreat College seal states “Esse Quam Videri,” meaning “Strength, Beauty, Truth.” Opportunities like the Business Ethics Symposium go hand in hand with what Montreat College stands for, and they help reaffirm the values that students are being taught in the classroom.