“When SMU students were asked to leave,” wrote SMU junior Rylee Bailey in her quarantine blog, “we weren’t sure when or if we would come back for the semester.”

Social distancing and self-isolation, “requires discipline, mental toughness, and courage; not traits I particularly associated with myself.” This was an early realization shared by Southern Methodist University junior Rylee Bailey in her March, 2020 pandemic blog. Bailey, a student staff member at SMU’s Maguire Center for Ethics & Public Responsibility, began writing and sharing the blog on social media when the campus shutdown.

Student identification and discussion of ethical issues is not new for the Maguire Center. Since the Center’s 1995 founding, student ethics projects have begun with the question, “What’s important to you?” said Professor Rita Kirk, the Center’s current director. The Center mirrors the University’s mission of cultivating students’ principled thought and intellectual skills in an environment that emphasizes individual dignity and worth. The Center has provided $450,000 to students exploring ethics in public service and through research.

Bailey, a Corporate Communications & Public Affairs major, said that she has noticed how ethical issues have shifted since March. First, it was, “how can I stop the spread and flatten the curve?” Then, “What risks am I creating if I return to campus?” Her blog has also addressed social inequities and governmental leadership.

Student projects help determine the Center’s future direction, said Professor Candy Crespo, the Center’s associate director. “Everything that we do comes back to student formation,” Crespo said.

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