A new developmental phase begins when students, fresh out of secondary school, are enrolled in university education.
Their orientation exposes them to the various structures that have been put in place to facilitate their learning experiences, and to the fundamental principles that they will have to hold dear. One of them is how to add value to their immediate or extended communities. Excellence, integrity, and service define the American University of Nigeria.
On October 17, the Judicial Affairs unit of the Student Affairs department collaborated with the Writing Center to organize an event that reinforces the importance of institutional values and goals, and the need to defend them with integrity.
The guest speaker was Dr. Teddi Fishman, an expert on ethics and former director of the International Center for Academic Integrity (ICAI). Curious students gathered at the Library Auditorium, eager to learn more about academic and institutional integrity, and we also had deans, faculty, and staff members attending.
Dr. Fishman highlighted that stakeholders are expected to uphold and preserve the standards that are representative of their institution:
“In an organization, how we treat each other and the ways we portray the image of the organization we are associated with reflect our integrity.”
She explained that no one works independently because whatever resources one needs to use to work or learn effectively have been put in place by people who did their jobs right. That too is working with integrity.
Discussing the interconnected “fundamental values” of ICAI – honesty, trust, respect, responsibility, fairness, and courage – she hoped that these would resonate with all those present, and encourage them to identify the unique features that make AUN stand out.
From the responses to why audience members had chosen AUN, inherent values in our institution were evoked:
Dean of Instruction Professor John Leonard talked about diversity, while interim Dean of SAS Patrick Fay was attracted by the zero-tolerance policies on corruption and sexual harassment, as well as the community development work.
Concluding the session, Fishman reiterated that integrity is an abstract word with different facets, and she likened it to a long suspension bridge with various steel cables:
“There are times when we feel we have done things in the past that we are not proud of.
However, I want you to understand that when we feel weak, we must remember that integrity is like this bridge of connected elements which we can keep stronger when we collectively address and fix the weaknesses.”
The Writing Center Director Ms. Emilienne Akpan strongly believes that AUN can promote the culture of integrity beyond Yola. She stated:
“It all starts with us. Integrity, as Dr. Fishman mentioned, also relies on a very important trait – courage - because it takes courage to make integrity a lifestyle.”
By Ebiuwairo Uwagboe