If you’re about to start university life, among the things that you would be doing right now is Googling stuff out about it, or even asking the people you personally know who are in university.
Most of the time, they will answer you in the form of tips, hacks, and how-tos. But very few of them will talk about ethics in the university; how to conduct yourself and your behaviors in the university, and why you should do so in the first place.
And it’s understandable; it is an abstract concept to dive in. This article itself won’t be able to cover everything needed. Nevertheless, it’s a good start to trigger our minds to think and reflect on the ethics of being a university student.
As you step away from your parents into the university gate, you might be tempted to utilize that freedom by doing every single thing that they said no to. But autonomy is a bigger concept than that.
Autonomy is basically having control on yourself. You govern yourself. Yes, the good thing about it is you can manage yourself, and no one else does. This is what people like about autonomy. However, the bad thing is, you have to manage yourself, and no one will do it for you. This is what people don’t like about discipline.
Yup, autonomy may sound like such a profound concept, but in reality, it is just a fancier word of ‘discipline’.
If you’re in the university, you’re basically an adult. You need to learn to be responsible for yourself. In terms of being a student, you are responsible for your own learning and academic performance. People around can help you, but not manage you.
No worries if you stumble from time to time though, that is exactly what should happen when you’re learning on how you govern yourself. Having autonomy on oneself is different for everyone, and it takes time for people to search what fits best for them.
As I said before, as you step into the university, you are an adult already. Your actions are governed by your personal beliefs and moral principles. And I mean yours and yours only.
You don’t do the right things because people with higher power like teachers or parents are constantly watching over you. You don’t do the right things due to the threat of punishment from them if you don’t do so. You don’t do the right things just because everyone else around you seem to be doing it.
You do the right thing because it is the right thing to do. That is integrity.
Of course, it’s easier to just go through university life slacking off, being a free-rider, barely putting efforts in anything, cheating and plagiarizing. But is that the right thing to do? Will that achieve the goal of you going to university? Will that achieve the goal of you being a decent person?
This is the time to contemplate why you do what you do, and the beliefs underlying them.
Extending from integrity, let’s talk about responsibility.
There’s responsibility towards yourself, and that is autonomy, as we discussed earlier. And then, there’s responsibility towards other people.
Every action of yours will have consequences for the people around you. Some of them will be rewarding, some of them will be mistakes. Either way, understand that mistakes are inevitable in your life.
This is where responsibility comes in. Internalize that when mistakes do happen, you have what it takes to be responsible. Analyze what went wrong, and take lessons. Ask for forgiveness. Make up for your mistakes. Plan ahead so things won’t go wrong anymore.
As kids, our thinking can be binary. There are good people and bad people. Good things happen and bad things happen. Hard working people win, and lazy people lose.
But as you venture in adulthood, you will soon come to realize that life is not black-and-white. What is good and bad differs from person to person. We perceive things as good and bad because of how we interpret them, and those interpretations also vary according to the person. People do not necessarily choose to be lazy as they may be disadvantaged in the first place, and those seemingly hardworking people may not actually exert much effort because they are privileged in the first place.
This is just the tip of the iceberg.
At university, you will meet a lot of people. Keep in mind while meeting them, that things are not necessarily how they seem on the surface. People that you look down upon, may go through a lot of things that you don’t expect. People that seem to make mistake purposely, may have underlying personal issues. People that seem lazy, might not be as privileged as you are.
So respect your classmates. Respect your acquaintances. Respect the staff. Respects the janitors. Respect everyone.
Being raised in an educational setting where the first place in the class always wins, it’s natural that you want to keep the first place when you enter the university. But while competition is the law of the jungle, cooperation is the law of civilization.
Everything that we achieved, has been propelled by a lot of people, whether we realize it or not. Whether we want to acknowledge it or not. And vice versa; people’s achievements around us, are due to our little to big contributions as well, thus you can take pride in that as a community member. So embrace that togetherness, by cooperating well with everyone you will work with in the university.
So there you have it; five ethics every student should follow at university.
Hearing all of these before stepping into university, it may sound just like the normal common sense that everyone already follows. However, once you start your life in the university, you will soon realize that sticking to them is not as practically easy as you thought it will be.
But fret not. As long as you keep the mindset of following these ethics, you will be driven to continually stay on the right path and improve yourself. Even when there will be mistakes, you will humbly acknowledge them and do your best to redeem yourself. As all of these ethics, in actuality, is not just for university students, but for those who call themselves decent humans.
All the best!