Santa Clara University

The-Big-Q_Header_4
 
RSS

The Big Q

A dialogue on the big questions college students face. Like The Big Q now on Facebook to stay updated on the latest post and winners.

  •  Passion or Practicality?

    Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2012
    Mark must decide whether to pursue his dreams or to please his parents.
    The best college student comment on "Passion or Practicality?" wins a $100 Amazon gift certificate. Entries must be received by midnight, September 2. Finalists are selected by likes, so get your friends to like your comment. Subscribe to the blog (by RSS or by email in the right hand column) for updates.
     
    Mark has always loved to draw, creating images from things he’s seen around him and things he conjures up in his own imagination. He is fascinated by the fine arts, and when he pictures his future, he sees himself as a curator of an art museum, or the owner of his own gallery.
     
    There’s just one problem. With the recent economic downturn and two younger siblings to think about, Mark faces many daunting financial obstacles in order to pursue his education. As a college freshman, he’s picked up some federal subsidized and unsubsidized loans, but his school’s endowment is less than stellar so he hasn’t received many grants. In essence, he’s looking at about a 150k debt that he’ll have to pay off when he graduates. He plans on continuously applying for merit-based scholarships, but he knows that he’s still going to have a lot on his shoulders. With all of this to consider, his parents are encouraging to pursue something a bit more… “lucrative.” In their minds, something like business or engineering would have a much bigger return than a fine arts or art history degree. They are so serious about this, in fact, that they have decided they will only pay off Mark’s loans if he pursues something that they consider to be practical. If he chooses to pursue something in the arts, Mark will take on his debt by himself.  
     
    Mark understands the situation he is in, and wants to be realistic… Perhaps he could become a businessman and sketch on the side, or volunteer at a local museum. However, he also feels like he can’t deny the part of himself that wants to completely follow his number one passion. How can Mark deal with this tug-of-war, respecting both his family’s wishes and his own hopes for the future?
     
     
     
     
     
    Photo by cstmweb available under a Creative Commons license on Google Images.
  •  Petty Theft

    Monday, Aug. 6, 2012
    Jackie sees her best friend stealing.. What should she do?
     The best college student comment on "Petty Theft" wins a $100 Amazon gift certificate. Entries must be received by midnight, August 19. Finalists are selected by likes, so get your friends to like your comment. Subscribe to the blog (by RSS or by email in the right hand column) for updates. 
     
    Jackie lives in an apartment with two friends, but lately her housemate Alex has been getting on everyone’s nerves. She always has her boyfriend over, she hasn’t been helping with chores, and she’s been distancing herself from the other two. She also has a nasty habit of leaving all of her belongings strewn everywhere- wallet, keys, file folders for work, you name it! In contrast, Jackie and her other friend, Sarah, have been getting much closer, spending almost every moment together. Jackie’s a little sad that she and Alex aren't as close anymore, but feels that it’s beyond her control. 
     
    One Thursday afternoon, Jackie gets home early from work. Alex is shut in her room as usual, so the only indication that she’s around is her typical trail of belongings. Sarah is in the shower, so she doesn’t hear Jackie come in. Jackie plops down on the couch and turns on her laptop, ready to do some much-deserved Pinterest surfing. Absorbed in the myriad of crafts and wedding decorations, she doesn’t notice that Sarah has turned off the shower and stepped out of the bathroom. Jackie is a bit out of Sarah’s sight, and she watches in surprise as Sarah picks up Alex’s wallet, takes out a $10 bill, and puts it in the pocket of her robe. Jackie almost says something, but then figures that it’s probably for something that Alex owes Sarah. And, even if Sarah is taking money, doesn’t Alex deserve it for irresponsibly leaving her stuff everywhere?  It isn’t even that much; $10 is basically an overpriced latte, right? 
     
    Jackie feels a little put off by the situation, but gives Sarah the benefit of the doubt. They make dinner together and watch a movie, and Jackie forgets all about it. Later that night, Alex emerges from her room and grabs her wallet, about to head out with her boyfriend. Thumbing through the bills with a puzzled look on her face, she asks, “Have you guys seen any money lying around? There’s not as much in here as I remember.” Sarah shakes her head and says, “Maybe it got lost in the laundry or something!” Jackie looks at her, surprised, remembering what she had seen earlier that afternoon.
    What should Jackie do? Should she tell Alex that Sarah took money from her wallet and risk damaging her closest friendship and her living situation for the year? Or should she say she hasn't seen anything, since Alex probably won't know the difference and should learn to keep better track of her things? 
     

     

  •  Once a Cheater...

    Monday, Jul. 23, 2012
    Devon has to decide if he can trust his friend Cory, who regularly cheats on schoolwork.

    The best college student comment on "Once A Cheater..." wins a $200 Amazon gift certificate. Entries must be received by midnight, August 5. Finalists are selected by likes, so get your friends to like your comment. Subscribe to the blog (by RSS or by email in the right hand column) for updates.

    Devon thought it might be difficult to make friends when he went to college, but three weeks into his freshman year, he had already found two of the best friends he could ask for. They did everything together, from basketball to homework. And, as luck would have it, Devon randomly shared the same class as one of these friends, Cory.

    In that class, Devon noticed that his friend cheated profusely. Not only would Cory plagiarize assignments, but he would also use his phone to cheat on tests. Still they were friends; whatever Cory did in class was his own business and shouldn’t matter to the friendship, Devon thought.

    One night, however, the three friends were playing poker, and Cory kept getting good hand after good hand. As much as Devon wanted to call it coincidence, he couldn’t help thinking of Cory cheating in class. On a later day, Devon played against his two friends in basketball; Cory claimed he was fouled even though Devon didn’t see it.

    Now, Cory has asked to “look over” Devon’s essay for their class--just to give Cory an idea of where to start. Devon wants to help his friend out, but worries about what Cory’s real intentions might be.
    Is Devon just being paranoid? Would it make sense for Devon to trust his other friend more than Cory? Does cheating in class reflect anything about your character outside of it? 

    A Framework for Ethical Decision Making

    Cheating in College is Widespread - But Why?

    What is Plagiarism, and is it Always Bad?

     

    Photo by theentiregospel available under a Creative Commons license on Google Images.

  •  Cheat Sheet

    Thursday, Jun. 21, 2012

    The best college student comment on "Cheat Sheet" wins a $200 Amazon gift certificate.  Entries must be received by midnight, August 5.  Finalists are selected by likes, so get your friends to like your comment. Subscribe to the blog (by RSS or by email in the right hand column) for updates.

    Shelby has been studying for the past two weeks for her final in chemistry. Her grade in the class is much lower than it should be, and her father has warned her to improve it or there will be consequences. So declining party invitations, restricting her time with friends, and spending hours in the library, Shelby has done a lot to prepare for this exam.

    Come test day, Shelby sits next to a mutual friend of hers that lives on the same floor in their dorm. Talking with her before the test begins, Shelby notices that this friend has hidden a cheat sheet at the top of her backpack.

    Ordinarily, Shelby wouldn’t be concerned about it; however, the professor has already announced that he will be grading the test on a strict curve. Even if everyone does really well, the professor will divide up the grades to make sure there’s a limited amount of A’s and B’s. Should Shelby report what she’s seen to the teacher? Should she keep it to herself? What would you do?

     

    A Framework for Ethical Decision Making

    Cheating in College is Widespread - But Why?

    What Does It Really Mean to Curve Grades?

     

    Photo by Mr_Stein available under a Creative Commons license.

  •  What's Wrong With Cheating?

    Monday, Jun. 18, 2012

     

    With about two-thirds of 14,000 undergraduates in a recent study admitting that they cheat on tests and assignments, colleges and universities are looking for ways to engage students on the importance of academic integrity.
     
    This summer, The Big Q will focus on cheating. Every two weeks beginning June 25 and ending July 30, The Big Q Facebook page and blog will feature a new case study illustrating an aspect of academic integrity. A $200 Amazon gift card will go to the best undergraduate response on each of three cases. The Big Q will also run a weekly poll on students' attitudes toward cheating.
     
    For the past three years, the Ethics Center has partnered with SCU's Office of Student Life to offer summer sessions on academic integrity to every incoming freshman at Santa Clara.
     
    "What we've found," says Center Assistant Director Miriam Schulman, "is that students often think of cheating as a victimless crime—an action that may be unethical but that doesn't hurt anyone else." The materials for The Big Q project put cheating in the context of fairness, showing how it provides an unfair advantage that does, indeed, harm classmates.
     
    Also, Schulman notes, "Many students believe that they can quarantine cheating—just doing it in classes outside their major or courses that have no impact on their professional readiness. " In response, The Big Q case studies encourage students to think about how the act of cheating changes the cheater, eroding character in ways that affect every aspect of their lives.
     
    SCU will be using the cases and polls this year in 26 orientation sessions for freshmen, and organizers hope the dialog spreads beyond the Santa Clara campus. The Big Q is free and available to faculty or staff at any university who wish to use the materials. Contests are open to any student at a 2- or 4-year college or university. 
     

     

  •  Protesting Commencement?

    Friday, Jun. 1, 2012

    The best college student comment on "Protesting Commencement?" wins a $100 Amazon gift certificate.  Entries must be received by midnight, June 17.  Finalists are selected by likes, so get your friends to like your comment. Subscribe to the blog (by RSS or by email in the right hand column) for updates.  

    After nearly four years of college, Ryan is finally graduating. As he goes online to figure out his responsibilities for the big day, he notices that his school has already chosen the commencement speaker: the CEO of a burgeoning business in the area. Not overly familiar with the woman, Ryan researches her and the company on the web.

    Quickly, Ryan learns that although the successful business has donated lots of money to the surrounding community, it has been tied up in a number of lawsuits over the improper disposal of its wastes. Looking into the matter further, Ryan discovers that this particular CEO has even made changes in the company that directly resulted in less environmentally sustainable practices.

    Ryan has been a member of Students for a Greener Earth since he was a freshman, and the college itself made a weighty pledge within the last year to improve its environmental sustainability. Unable to change the speaker but nonetheless outraged that she has been selected, Ryan intends to protest. 

    One option is to pass out leaflets before or after the ceremony detailing her actions in light of the school's pledge; however, another possibility is to do something when she's on stage. While she speaks, he could stand and turn his back to her; he could rally his friends to chant a message against her; he could even gather a group of people to shout so loudly so she can't finish her speech. 

    What do you believe he should do?

    Resources

    Framework for Ethical Decision Making 

    Remarks by John J. Digioia, president of Georgetown University

    Controversial Commencement Speaker Hall of Fame (Washington Post)

     

    Photo by ragesoss available under a Creative Commons license.

     

  •  The Dream Act

    Monday, May. 14, 2012

    The best college student comment on "The Dream Act" wins a $100 Amazon gift certificate.  Entries must be received by midnight, May 28.  Finalists are selected by likes, so get your friends to like your comment. Subscribe to the blog (by RSS or by email in the right hand column) for updates.  

    Ana immigrated illegally to the United States from Mexico when she was just two-years-old. Alongside her father and two older siblings, Ana was carried on her mother’s back to California where they now reside. Sixteen years later, Ana is applying to college; however, she needs public funding in order to attend these institutions.

    The California DREAM Act—a bill similar to the national DREAM Act which helps minors who have arrived illegally attain permanent residency—would allow Ana access to scholarships and funding she needs to attend college. However, any money that she receives from the state is the same taxpayers’ money that could be going to other students.

    Is it fair, then, that Ana, who is in the country illegally, receive the funds that Californian citizens could use as well? Should Ana’s eligibility to receive such public funds depend on whether her parents have worked and contributed to society during their time in California? How much of Ana’s educational aspirations should be sacrificed because of her parents' decision when she was an infant?

    Further Information

    Framework for Ethical Decision Making 

    Overview Of The National Dream Act  

     

  •  Paying For College – Who Should Take Responsibility?

    Saturday, Apr. 28, 2012
    The accompanying photo is by DonkeyHotey, available under a Creative Commons license on Flickr

    The best college student comment on "Paying For College – Who Should Take Responsibility?" wins a $100 Amazon gift certificate.  Entries must be received by midnight, May 13.  Finalists are selected by likes, so get your friends to like your comment. Subscribe to the blog (by RSS or by email in the right hand column) for updates. 

    Kevin is enjoying his sophomore year at a small, private university on the east coast. He has good friends, he’s close with his professors, and he is involved with a community service club on campus. He also works 20 hours a week for dining services to defray the cost of his room and board. Unfortunately, however, he has just learned that a scholarship he received for the first two years won't be renewed, and his tuition money will take a big hit.

    When Kevin chose this college, his parents had agreed to pay for his schooling; however, in order to afford the increased cost, they would have to push back their retirement, working years past when they intended to stop.

    Kevin is already working the maximum number of hours he's allowed.  Assuming he can't find scholarships to cover the rest, should he be expected to attend a cheaper, state college? Or should Kevin’s parents be expected to make the sacrifice?

     

    Further Information

    Framework for Ethical Decision Making 
    Who Should Pay for College? (USA Today College)
    Student Debt and the Importance of College

  •  Embellishing The Details

    Monday, Apr. 16, 2012

    The best college student comment on "Embellishing The Details" wins a $100 Amazon gift certificate.  Entries must be received by midnight, April 27.  Finalists are selected by likes, so get your friends to like your comment. Subscribe to the blog (by RSS or by email in the right hand column) for updates.

           Ever since Kate took a class on social justice earlier in the year, she has become very interested and involved with the workers’ rights of the custodians and gardeners on her college campus. And recently she discovered that the school has increased the cost of the workers’ premium and co-payments for their health insurance.

          Now Kate works for the school newspaper and thinks that if she writes an article on the increased cost of their benefits, it could gain the attention of the administrators who could help the workers' case. However, with the facts and interviews that Kate has been able to collect, she doesn't believe the story will be able to persuade those she needs to reach. But if she portrays a composite character as a real person, estimating his salary and the devastating effect these price hikes would have, she believes her article will have the necessary strength to have an impact.

          Her actions have no intent to garner praise for herself; she merely wants to achieve what is due to these workers. Is it ethical, then, for Kate to employ such tactics?  

    Further Information

    Framework for Ethical Decision Making 

    Journalism Ethics: Right Name, Wrong Game

     

    Photo by Sasha Y. Kimel under a creative commons license.

  •  Tyler Clementi Case - What Punishment Is Justifiable?

    Monday, Apr. 2, 2012

     

    The best college student comment on "Tyler Clementi Case - What Punishment Is Justifiable?" wins a $100 Amazon gift certificate.  Entries must be received by midnight, April 15.  Finalists are selected by likes, so get your friends to like your comment. Subscribe to the blog (by RSS or by email in the right hand column) for updates.

    You've probably heard about the case of Tyler Clementi - a freshman at Rutgers University who committed suicide after his roommate, 18-year-old Dharun Ravi, secretly filmed and broadcasted Tyler having a homosexual encounter with another man. Three days later, Tyler committed suicide. Now, convicted of invasion of privacy, bias intimidation, witness tampering, and hindering arrest, Dharun faces 10 years in jail or deportation (Dharun, although living his whole life in the US, is technically native of India).  He will be sentenced in May.

    What punishment do you think fits the crime? How is it fair, and if so, why?  Does it bring justice to Tyler?  Does it serve some larger social purpose such as deterring further crimes?

    Below are some further facts to help assist your decision.

    Sept. 19th 2011: Tyler asked Dharun for the room to himself. Dharun then left the webcam of his computer on while he went over to a friend’s room to watch the live stream. He then posted on Twitter to his 150 followers, “Roommate asked for the room till midnight. I went into molly's room and turned on my webcam. I saw him making out with a dude. Yay”.

    Sept. 21st 2011: Tyler read Dharun’s Twitter post and complained to his resident assistant and two other officials, requesting a room change.

    Sept. 21st 2011: Another attempt was made by Dharun to film his roommate. And having contacted numerous people via text messages (one saying, “Yeah, keep the gays away”), an open iChat session was set up by Dharun accompanied with another Twitter post, this one saying, “Anyone with iChat, I dare you to video chat me between the hours of 9:30 and 12. Yes, it's happening again.” However, Tyler noticed the webcam and unplugged Dharun’s computer to prevent the filming.

     

    Sept. 22nd 2011: Tyler posts his intention to commit suicide and then goes through with the intention.

    Sept. 22nd 2011: Five minutes after Tyler’s post (although Dharun claims he didn’t see Tyler’s post until the next day), Dharun sends two apology emails within 15 minutes of one another. The first expressed his guilt and “good-natured” intentions in filming the first night; the second expressed his lack of bias against homosexuals.

    March 16th 2012: Dharun was found guilty of invasion of privacy, hindering apprehension, witness tampering, and biased intimidation pertaining to the second viewing incident. The jury concluded that Dharun did not act with a purpose to intimidate either Tyler or his guest because of their sexual orientation, but that Tyler reasonably believed that this was the case.

    The sentencing is set for May 21st.

     

    Further Information

    Framework for Ethical Decision Making 

    CBS News Interview with Tyler Clementi's Parents 

    ABC News Interview With Dharun Ravi