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Milton Grew
Milton Grew
Milton Gregory "Greg" Grew, AIA is CEO of Grew Design, Inc and Grew Construction, LLC in Woodbury, CT. Greg is a licensed architect, building official, and contractor with over 20 years designing/building residential, commercial and institutional building projects.


June 10th, 2009 by Milton Grew

Recently it was discovered that some candidates for the national Architectural Registration Examination had improperly shared information on the content of exams and basically cheated on the test. This is the exam that qualifies an architect to be licensed to practice in the states. The announcement regarding the action taken by the national board is found here:

Now one might say this is an isolated event and we should not draw broad conclusions. But hearing about this got me thinking about the continuing erosion of honesty and ethics in our profession, all professions and society in general. Notice an interesting observation made in AWAKE! magazine:

Older persons can remember a time when, in many places, people did not lock their doors. They did not think of stealing from others or of cheating them. If they borrowed money, they felt honor-bound to repay it. And their word was ‘as good as gold.’ True, there was dishonesty, but it was not all-pervasive. Today, however, stealing, lying, and cheating are commonplace throughout the world. And many dishonest acts originate with so-called respectable people who live and work in nice neighborhoods, dress well, may have a religion, and consider themselves good citizens. Indeed, dishonesty has become notorious among officials of government and business. (Nov. 15, 1986)

The Apostle Paul wrote:  “We trust we have an honest conscience, as we wish to conduct ourselves honestly in all things”.  (Hebrews 13:18)

It seems everywhere one turns today we must navigate through a dishonest world. Owners that don’t want to tell the truth on permit applications about the construction cost. Clients who want to pay cash or use other means to bury money so they don’t have to pay taxes on it. Clients who offer us cash if we keep accounts off the books thinking we would likewise not report the income for taxes. Owners and contractors who don’t want to take out permits for the construction. Employment candidates who inflate their credentials. I could go on and on.

Architecture is a noble profession but it does not appear that it is any more noble than others when it comes to ethics. How many architects have read the AIA Code of Ethics or the rules of ethics written into their state’s practice regulations? What meaningful education on ethics, honesty and honorable practice is really given to architecture students? I just make a random check of the listing of courses for a prominent university’s school of architecture. Not one class on ethics in practice or honesty in life. That says plenty.

Why has honesty and ethics in society and our profession become so unimportant? We create environments to promote the well being of humans, to lift their spirits, and bring them comfort combined with guarding their health, safety and welfare. How could we cheat on anything having to do with our profession?

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  1. cliff says:

    Until honesty turns a profit, there will be no incentive to practice it. As a society, we are pressured to accept dishonesty, cheating and stealing as a normal function of business. Contracts have become pointless; integrity has been traded in for compliance, dignity cast aside for public image. Our society has been poisoned by political correctness and capitulation to governmental dictates. Accountability and responsibility are treated separately as opposed to in tandem. Actual achievement is less important than the appearance of achievement. Manipulation and persuasion are the guidelines of modern ethics, not education and transparent representation. Dignity is of and from within the individual ONLY. It is not dependant upon any opinion or action of anyone except the individual. Integrity is defined by the principles of the individual. Society, as a whole, is concerned with control not achievement. Business now trades in minimums and greed and has ignored the traditional principle of a good product for a fair price. Capitalism is not about greed, it is about achievement. When personal integrity becomes as important as ones public image, perhaps then we will regain the dignity and honor of being a free society.

  2. Cliff relates the sad state of our culture in an eloquent, articulate way. One thing I might add or reinforce has to do with our postmodern way of thinking. Somewhere along the way the modernist way of thinking (which I do not espouse to either) where facts were facts has gone along the wayside to where truth is what you make it. When we do not all agree on a common truth, how can we be found honoring it? Truth has become a moving target made in our own image so we are never wrong when we can make truth whatever we want. Maybe cheating like Mr. Grew explained is not bad to the cheater because he/she doesn’t define cheating the same way. Lawmakers and judges are blinded by the same relativistic thinking so the law can’t even help us. If I go on, I’ll certainly be criticized for not being politically correct. Oh, but how can we define correct? Thanks Mr. Grew for speaking out.

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