Juniors, seniors encouraged to compete in annual ethics essay contest

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The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity has officially announced the beginning of the 27th annual Prize in Ethics Essay Contest.

The contest challenges any full-time junior or senior, in any major, to write a personal essay on ethics.

Students are to select an urgent ethical issue and develop a rational argument for action regarding it.

The deadline for the contest is Dec. 14.

All the entries will be evaluated by a panel of readers and the winners will then be decided by a jury, headed by Wiesel himself.

The winner will be announced in the spring of 2016.

According to the Wiesel Foundation, the first-place easy writer will receive a $5,000 scholarship award.

  • Second place — $2,500 scholarship
  • Third place — $1,500 scholarship
  • Two honorable mention awards — $500 scholarships

“These contests give students a chance to apply their academic skill beyond the classroom setting,” Johnson University English Professor Ron Wheeler said. “Too often classroom exercises seem like just that: Exercises that don’t go anywhere.”

He said that this contest allows students a real opportunity to take what they’re learning and make a difference.

Wiesel Quote

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Elie Wiesel

Wiesel’s focus on ethics are deeply rooted in his own personal experiences.

According to Wiesel’s foundation, during World War II, when Wiesel was 15, he was deported by the Nazis to the infamous Auschwitz death camp.

Wiesel learned about human nature and the depths to which it can sink.

Wiesel’s biography says he watched in horror as half of his family, among the hundreds of others that suffered through the Holocaust, were killed by the cruel nature of the Nazis. He witnessed firsthand the damage it inflicted onto their country.

“From that experience, he developed a kind of humanitarian approach to how people should treat one another [and] resolve conflict,” Wheeler said. “His foundation propagates that mission.”

In 1986, soon after he received the Nobel Peace Prize, Wiesel and his wife, Marion established the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity to combat indifference, intolerance and injustice.

They have been working ever since to imprint the importance of ethics on society.

“The subject matter of this contest matches their [Johnson students’] academic training and their spiritual development and formation better than most contests would,” Wheeler said. “It’s a true opportunity for them [Johnson students] to integrate what they do at Johnson University both academically and spiritually for the greater good of the culture.”

For more information and for guidelines on the easy contest, click here.

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