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Lambda Pi Eta inducts new members

The Elon chapter of Lambda Pi Eta, the national communications honors society, recently carried out its fall induction, welcoming 28 new members. Officers for the group include Becky Farris, president; Summer Johnson, vice president; Betsy Snavely, secretary; and Holly Edwards, treasurer.

Paul Parsons, dean of the School of Communications, was guest speaker at the induction ceremony. He noted the meaning of the organization's name: logos, or logic, is represented by Lambda, the 11th letter of the Greek alphabet; pathos, or passion/emotion, is represented by Pi, the 16th letter; and ethos, or ethics, is represented by Eta, the 7th letter.

"This call to logic," Parsons said, "is tied to our first mandate as communicators to tell the truth with logic and reason ... And I hope you will have lots of pathos ... I hope you have a passion for freedom of speech, a passion for openness of information in a democracy, a passion for making your communities and your world better."

Parsons continued, emphasizing the importance of ethics, ethos.

"Most of us obey the law, honor promises, play by the rules, respect the rights of others, help people in distress, work at our jobs even when the boss isn't looking, wait our turn in line, and leave tips for waitresses even in places we never expect to visit again," he said. "We are, in many ways, good. But ... moral nature competes with other desires natural to us - the desire to succeed, to accumulate, to gain power. Our self-interests tempt us to take moral shortcuts ... When outside forces tempt us to take moral shortcuts that are attractive in the short run, we must turn to our inner values to remain true to our moral selves. And unless we think through our values in advance, we may do whatever is most expedient when facing a tough decision."

Parsons spoke of the great educator and philosopher Aristotle, who spoke of logos, pathos and ethos 2,400 years ago, when naming what he considered to be the three key ingredients of persuasive communication.

"Aristotle defined moral virtue as the midpoint between the extremes of excess and deficiency," Parsons said. "I would define ethics as the midpoint between law (which mandates our actions) and freedom (to do whatever you want). Some of the TV networks showed human beings jumping from the burning World Trade Center towers. Why? Because it was the awful truth. Other networks chose not to televise people jumping. Why? Because it seemed to make too graphic an individual's private moment of tragedy.

"This dramatically illustrates an ethical dilemma. Well, we're back in the Greek language again. 'Di' is the Greek word for two (as in dialogue), and a 'lemma' is a basic assumption taken for granted. A 'dilemma' describes any situation that pits one deeply held assumption against another. In the dilemma to show or not show the Trade Center Tower jumpers, do we place emphasis on truth or privacy? Both are good values, and we must choose when they are pitted against one another.

"We use the phrase 'ethical dilemma' to describe those right-versus-right situations where two core moral values come into conflict. When we face a right-versus-wrong choice - such as a choice whether to cheat or not - that's not a dilemma at all; that's just a temptation to do wrong. A dilemma requires us to choose between two goods.

"As communication professionals," he concluded, "the best training is to think through your ethos in advance, to know what is most important in your belief system."

Lambda Pi Eta, an organization affiliated with the National Communication Association, got its start at Elon in 1998. Dr. George Padgett, the group's adviser, said the 60 Elon members are primarily juniors and seniors. Students are eligible for membership when they have completed 60 hours of university credit, including at least 12 hours in the School of Communications. Members must possess no less than a 3.0 overall GPA, and a GPA of at least 3.25 in the School of Communications.

Fall 2001 initiates include:

  • Meredith Benning
  • Jocelyn Berner
  • Kate Botty
  • Cristal Brenneman
  • Shelby Brown
  • Liz Burris
  • Amy Corona
  • Sara Creech
  • Katie Cutler
  • Melissa Dodge
  • Madeline Growman
  • Janis Hepburn
  • Tricia Hiott
  • Malika Irving
  • Derrick Jackson
  • Amber McCaffery
  • Lindsay Molnar
  • Erin Moseley
  • Andrea Petrini
  • Garret Ritz
  • Keren Rivas
  • Alaina Rodriguez
  • Nick Schmidt
  • Audrey Seagraves
  • Summer Shaikh
  • Ashley Summers
  • Kellen Taylor
  • Jesse Turkus

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