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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.

The following postings have been filtered by tag ethics. clear filter
  •  Spreading Wings

    Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014

    The first 20 student comments on “Spreading Wings” win a $5 Yiftee gift to a local business. Use your gift to try out that new flavor of ice cream or spend it on two slices of your favorite pizza. Entries must be received by midnight, Sunday, March 2nd, 2014. Subscribe to the blog (by RSS or by e-mail in the right hand column) for updates.

    **DISCLAIMER: All characters and scenarios in this post are fictional.**

    Lucy is a second semester senior at a small private university near San Francisco. Coming into college, Lucy had to choose between two similar universities on opposite sides of the country, one in California and the other in New York. Lucy’s decision came down to location and she ended up selecting the California university because of its proximity to her home and family.

    Now, Lucy is preparing for her post-graduate life. She has applied to countless jobs in public relations, as her father has always told her that getting a job is a numbers game. Several positions have been on the East Coast, but the majority have been in California. Lucy knows her mother would like her to stay close to home. Lucy has a younger brother still in high school whom she could mentor, and an older sister who lives at home and commutes to her job in the city.

    Lucy’s dream job is to work for a global public relations agency in a big city like New York or Chicago. She isn’t really interested in doing public relations for the technology industry. California agencies largely work in technology, so if she stayed close to home she would likely have to work tech for part of her career.

    That being said, family is the most important aspect of Lucy’s life. She was raised in a home where family is No. 1, and there were no compromises when it came to the family’s well-being. Everyone in her family looks out for one another. She would absolutely love to stay near them if she has the opportunity after college.

    After a long and hard job search, Lucy manages to get an internship at one of the largest global public relations agencies in Chicago. She also gets several good agency jobs in San Francisco, including one at a global public relations firm working in technology. Lucy is struggling with her decision. She knows that she doesn’t really want to work in technology, but she does want to stay close to home if possible. Both agency jobs pay around the same, and she would be able to grow in each company with hard work. She also could jump location eventually should she desire to experience working in a different city.

    Should Lucy choose to stay close to home or move away to a more desirable career opportunity? Which option will bring Lucy more happiness? What is more important, individual career goals or family responsibility and loyalty? Does Lucy have an ethical responsibility to consider family when preparing for her future career? Why or why not?

    Useful Resources:

    A Framework for Ethical Decision-Making

    How to Deal With Moving Away From Your Family

    Photo by Amanda Tipton available under a Creative Commons license.

     

  •  Shot on the Job Hunt

    Monday, Feb. 3, 2014

    The first 20 student comments on “Shot on the Job Hunt” win a $5 Yiftee gift to a local business. Use your gift to try out that new flavor of ice cream at Mission City Creamery or spend it on two slices of your favorite pizza at Pizza My Heart. Entries must be received by midnight, Sunday, February 16th, 2014. Subscribe to the blog (by RSS or by e-mail in the right hand column) for updates.

    **DISCLAIMER: All characters and scenarios in this post are fictional.**

    Mike is a senior public relations major at a large university preparing to join the work force. One night, he gets in a conversation with his roommate Anne about career options and applying for jobs. Anne is also a public relations major, so they have similar interest in what they would like to do after college.

    Mike finds out that Anne has recently applied to a company called Reed PR. Anne went to the career fair the previous quarter and found a contact with Reed to network with. After some time networking and finding out more about the company, Anne determined that it was her first choice company to work for. She spent hours putting together a solid application. During her conversation with Mike, Anne shows him a blog that she created for her application with her cover letter, resume, recommendation letters, writing samples, and fun facts.

    The next morning, Mike decides to follow Anne’s example and create his own job application blog. He copies Anne’s format and finds out how Anne created her blog. He regularly checks Anne’s blog to look for tips in order to get a job. Mike decides to send his new blog to Reed PR as well, without telling Anne. He doesn’t think it’s important to let her know.

    About a month later, Mike hears back from Reed PR that he has been invited to interview with the company. Mike tells Anne this and finds out that Anne hasn’t made it on to the next round. Anne is surprised that Mike applied to Reed and is upset at him for not telling her and copying her application format. She feels betrayed.

    In a competitive world, was it okay for Mike to apply to the same job as his roommate? Should Mike have told Anne that he applied? Is it unethical that Mike copied Anne’s job application blog format? Does Anne have the right to be upset at Mike, or should she get over it?

    Useful Resources:

    A Framework for Ethical Decision-Making

    On the Job Hunt, Trust No One

    You and Your Friend Applied for the Same Job. What to do?

    What to Do When You’re Competing With a Friend for a Job

    Photo by Gvahim available under a Creative Commons license.

  •  Off the Hook-Up Culture

    Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014

    The first 20 student comments on "Off the Hook-Up Culture" win a $5 Yiftee gift to a local business of your choice! Entries must be received by midnight, Sunday, February 2nd, 2014. Subscribe to the blog (by RSS or by e-mail in the right hand column) for updates.

    **DISCLAIMER: All characters and scenarios in this post are fictional.**

    Frank is a college junior at a small private university. Before coming to college he had a girlfriend for two years, ending abruptly because they were going separate ways. His attitude coming to college was to remain single, grow academically and professionally, and enjoy youthful experiences.

    In his freshman year, Frank found that the culture at his college largely matched what he was looking for. Hooking up was very common, and long-term relationships were rare. During his first year at school, Frank saw a lot of different women and had sex with several of them, rarely more than once or twice. He had some good experiences with women who he would have liked to pursue longer, but he just didn’t think the culture allowed for it.

    All the students seemed to be focused on bettering their future. They were academically and professionally driven, not driven by relationships and finding love. Some of Frank’s peers explicitly said they didn’t have time for a romantic relationship, and had no interest since they didn’t know what state they would be living in after graduation.

    At the beginning of his junior year, Frank got involved in an uncommitted sexual relationship with Susan, a girl he always had been interested in getting to know better. After hooking up once, they both discussed how they weren’t looking for a relationship but enjoyed each other’s company. Frank and Susan continued this exclusive, hook-up relationship for the first half of the semester. While they both enjoyed time with one another, the uncommitted relationship ended unexpectedly when Susan wanted more and Frank was still unsure he was ready to fully commit.

    Frank went back to his routine random hook-ups, but he soon realized that he wasn’t enjoying them anymore. There was no long-term fulfillment and growth that he had started to feel with Susan. Frank stopped hooking up with girls randomly, and instead started searching for something deeper. He spent the rest of the quarter not hooking up with anyone and realizing how difficult it was to find a relationship in college, especially after he had built a negative reputation after hooking up with so many women around his small college campus.

    Frank’s friends approached him one day in an “intervention.” They were genuinely concerned about him because he was acting so different than usual and seemed depressed. They told him that he was in a funk after his time with Susan. He needed to get back out and hook-up with girls again, so that all would be normal again.

    What should Frank do? Is Frank just heart-broken from Susan? Should Frank be hooking up with more girls? Should he not be? Why do students hook-up? In the college hook-up culture, is the choice to not hook-up just as acceptable as the choice to hook-up? Why or why not?

    Useful Resources:

    A Framework for Ethical Decision-Making

    American Psychological Association: Sexual hook-up culture

    Does Hookup Culture Hurt Women?

    9 Reasons ‘Hookup Culture’ Hurts Boys Too

  •  Go Greek or Go Home

    Monday, Jan. 6, 2014

    The first 20 student comments on "Go Greek or Go Home" win a $5 Yiftee gift certificate to a local business of your choice! Entries must be received by midnight, Sunday, January 19th, 2014. Subscribe to the blog (by RSS or by e-mail in the right hand column) for updates.

    **DISCLAIMER: All characters and scenarios in this post are fictional.**
     
    Stefano is a freshman at a small college called Hinchley University. Although Hinchley doesn’t recognize Greek life, there are plenty of nationally recognized fraternities and sororities off campus.
     
    Even before Stefano applied to college, he knew he wanted to rush a fraternity. His father was in a fraternity and always told Stefano that he gained valuable life lessons out of his experience that shaped who he became as an individual. When Stefano gets to Hinchley, however, he is disappointed that his father’s fraternity doesn’t have a chapter at his school. He forgets about rushing a fraternity until winter quarter comes around and fraternities host rush week.
     
    Stefano decides to attend rush week to see if he can find an organization that fits his mold. He’s looking for fraternity brothers who care about academics as much as socializing and who walk the talk supporting worthwhile philanthropies. At the end of rush, Stefano thinks he’s found just what he wants in a fraternity called “Alpha Iota.”
     
    Alpha Iota extends Stefano a bid and he accepts. Soon, however, Stefano finds some of his fraternity brothers are not the kind of guys he really wants to hang around with. While a lot of the members are great, several others both publically and privately show disrespect towards other fraternities and all women on and off campus. In addition, there is hostility between the brothers themselves that Stefano didn’t see during rush. He soon finds out it may be from hazing the pledges are forced to undertake.
     
    Only a couple days into his pledge period, on a Monday night, Stefano is locked in a dark basement with his pledge brothers. First, they are instructed to finish a keg of beer amongst the 25 pledges. After this, they are forced to stay awake all night, still locked in the basement, by blasting music and active brothers going around slapping pledges awake who fall asleep.
     
    Stefano finds himself torn. He’d like to belong to a fraternity so that he has a good social network on campus. But should he continue to go through the pledge period to join this exclusive club, even though he doesn’t respect some of the members and he doesn’t feel comfortable with the hazing?
     
    Do you believe the desire to be in a Greek organization—even one that hazes—should outweigh a college student’s moral conscience? If you were forced to do something you didn’t want to do to join an exclusive organization, would you do it? Or would you walk away, knowing that dropping out will affect your social life at college? If you are involved with Greek life, is there something the organization could do that would make you reevaluate your allegiance? If so, what?
     
     
    Useful Resources:
     
     
     
     
    Photo by Donald Harrison available under a Creative Commons license.
  •  Academic Performance Enhancement

    Monday, Dec. 2, 2013

     

    Frank and Bobby are freshmen at a university on the semester system. They meet at orientation and bond over their major, Economics, and their hobby of playing sports. They decide to request one another as roommates, and both enroll in the same mathematics class: calculus for business majors.
     
    The two get off to a bad start academically. They are experiencing the freedom of living on their own for the first time. No parents are around to make sure they are keeping up with their homework assignments or readings. In fact, since Frank and Bobby are both in the same math class, they often take turns going to class. It starts off with the boys alternating going to class, but eventually turns into both boys often skipping.
     
    One evening, midway through the semester, Frank and Bobby run into a classmate who informs them they have a midterm the next morning. They successfully get her class notes, however they soon realize they don’t have enough time to study unless they pull an all-nighter.
     
    Bobby doesn’t believe he can stay up all night and still perform well on the test the next morning.  He decides that it’s in his best interest to create a cheat sheet and plug equations into his calculator. He
     
    Frank is against cheating. He calls out Bobby, saying that this is unethical. Instead, he buys two Adderall pills from a student in their dorm who has ADD. He has heard that taking Adderall helps you stay awake and focus.
     
    Bobby gets upset when he finds out Frank is taking Adderall to study. Bobby claims that there is no difference between taking a drug that isn’t prescribed to you to help you study and bringing in a cheat sheet. Bobby says they are both forms of cheating. Frank disagrees, claiming that at least he’s going through the process of studying for the midterm.
     
    Do you believe it’s cheating to take an academic performance-enhancing drug that isn’t prescribed to you? If so, is it cheating to the same degree as blatantly bringing a cheat sheet to your midterm? Is relying on academic performance-enhancing drugs to study dangerous in long term?
     
     
    Useful Resources:
     
     
     
     
     
     
    Photo by Life Metal Health under a Creative Commons license.
     
     
    **DISCLAIMER: All characters and scenarios in this post are fictional.**

     

  •  Browsing or Cyberstalking?

    Monday, Nov. 11, 2013

    Entries for "Browsing or Cyberstalking" must be received by midnight, Sunday, November 24th, 2013. Subscribe to the blog (by RSS or by e-mail in the right hand column) for updates. 

     
    **DISCLAIMER: All characters and scenarios in this post are fictional.**
     
    Lauren is a junior at a small university. While she finds she fits in at her college, her decision to attend was based on following her high school boyfriend of two years, Dave. After two more years of dating in college, Dave decides he wants to go separate ways, and thinks it best if the two don’t see each other anymore.
     
    Though they have no face-to-face interaction, Lauren maintains her online connections to Dave. She constantly checks on what he is doing and who he is spending time with through his Facebook posts, Instagram photos, and tweets. She often shows up at restaurants or bars he says he is attending, and “accidentally” runs into him, to force real life interaction.
     
    A few weeks later, Lauren is browsing Dave’s Facebook and notices that he is spending a lot of time with a sophomore at their university, Emily. She immediately feels jealous and starts to monitor Emily’s social media pages as well. She even begins comparing herself with Emily to her friends, complaining about how Dave “lowered his standards.”
     
    It’s been several months since Lauren’s break up with Dave, and while they haven’t spent time together in person, she knows the ins and outs of his life. She talks about him so much to her friends, that they’ve started to become sick of it. She’s also making herself miserable because her online monitoring isn’t letting her get over her break-up. One day, one of Lauren and Dave’s mutual friends approaches Dave and tells him Lauren has been checking up on him and his new girlfriend on social media. Dave is surprised and disturbed by the information.
     
    What should Dave do, keeping in mind they are all still students at the same university? Is Lauren’s “online monitoring” equivalent to cyberstalking? What is the line between checking up on your old friends and stalking them? Have you ever personally engaged in cyberstalking or know of someone who has? Do you notice cyberstalking as a trend on college campuses?
     
    Useful Resources:
     
     
     
     
     
    Photo by olalindberg under a Creative Commons license.

     

  •  This Town is Big Enough for the Both of Us

    Monday, Oct. 28, 2013

    The first 20 student comments on "This Town is Big Enough for the Both of Us" win $5 Starbucks gift certificates. Entries must be received by midnight, Sunday, November 10th, 2013. Subscribe to the blog (by RSS or by e-mail in the right hand column) for updates. 

    **DISCLAIMER: All characters and scenarios in this post are fictional.**
     
    Steve is a senior at a private university in California. He’s involved with Greek life off-campus and lives in his fraternity’s house. The fraternity just moved to a larger house, next door to a middle-aged woman and her two young children. There are 13 total fraternity brothers living in Steve’s house, and as a result, it tends to get loud even when only the residents are hanging out on the front lawn or in the backyard.
     
    The fraternity has thrown several small events at the new house that have bothered their neighbor. They usually just involve the housemates and a few friends playing drinking games and listening to music in the backyard. Their neighbor has called in noise complaints to the local police department on several of these occasions, sometimes leading to a warning and other times leading to escalating fines.
     
    A few weeks after their last fine, Steve’s fraternity plans and executes a weeklong philanthropy event at their house. They donate all proceeds to several different charities, from cancer research to food banks. One of the week’s events involves teams bringing as much canned food as possible and constructing a creative sculpture out of these cans. The most creative can sculpture wins. Around 200 students show up to the event, which is held in the backyard. No drinking is taking place at the event, but there is music playing and the students are loud while communicating sculpture plans. The cops show up at the event at 7pm and shut it down. They also fine the house $300 for a noise complaint violation. It seems that their neighbor has called in again. 
     
    Was it reasonable for Steve’s neighbor to call in a noise complaint for the event? Do Steve and his housemates need to accommodate their neighbor more, or does their neighbor need to be more accommodating? How can Steve and his house work with their neighbor so they can coexist more peacefully?
     
    Useful Resources:
     
     
     
     
    Photo by marsmet553available under a Creative Commons license.

     

  •  Emails Exposed

    Monday, Oct. 14, 2013

    The best student comment on "Emails Exposed" wins a $100 Amazon gift certificate. Entries must be received by midnight, Sunday, October 27th, 2013. Subscribe to the blog (by RSS or by e-mail in the right hand column) for updates. 

    **DISCLAIMER: All characters and scenarios in this post are fictional.**
     
     
    Robert is on the baseball team at a small college in Texas. He’s a high profile player on the team, and as a result he has a lot of followers on Twitter and a large network on Facebook. For this reason, the members of the athletic board at his college think it’s necessary to monitor his social media accounts. In Texas, there is no law to prevent schools from requiring individuals to give up their personal social media login and password information, so Robert is forced to hand over his social media account information.
     
    University officials say that the intent of monitoring is to identify potential compliance and behavioral issues early on, enabling athletic departments to educate athletes on how to present themselves online. They regularly check what Robert posts and flag certain postings they have issues with.
     
    One day Robert tweets “Skipping class to break bad #schoolsucks #bettercallsaul #breakingbad.” Since Robert publicly admits to skipping class, school officials flag the post and decide to also start monitoring Robert’s email account without informing him.
     
    Since the school provides an email account as a service to its students and faculty, it reserves the right to search its own system’s stored data. According to the college’s student handbook, administrators may access student email accounts in order to safeguard the system or “to ensure compliance with other University rules.” The policy does not mention whether or not account owners have to be notified that their emails are searched.
     
    When searching Robert’s email account, university officials find several questionable emails between Robert and his tutor. It seems that Robert’s tutor has been sending him all answers to homework assignments and quizzes. As a result of the investigation, Robert is placed on athletic probation and his tutor is fired.
     
     
    Should universities be allowed to monitor student email and social media accounts? If so, under what circumstances?
     
    What crosses the line between campus safety and invasion of privacy?
     
    Are university rules regarding email and social media monitoring too vague? If so, how can these rules be changed for more clarity?
     
    Should Robert have been punished for cheating in class if he did not know his email was being monitored? What about his tutor?
     
     
    Useful Resources:
     
     
     
     
     
     
    Photo by cmm08f available under a Creative Commons license.

     

  •  Selfies

    Monday, Sep. 30, 2013

    The best student comment on "Selfies" wins a $100 Amazon gift certificate. Entries must be received by midnight, Sunday, October 13th, 2013. Subscribe to the blog (by RSS or by e-mail in the right hand column) for updates.

    **DISCLAIMER: All characters and scenarios in this post are fictional.**

    Stacy is a sophomore in college who is addicted to Instagram. She regularly posts multiple photos a day showing her followers what she is up to. Stacy views Instagram as a way to stay connected with her friends. While many of these Instagram photos incorporate amazing sights or delicious-looking baked goods, she also posts a lot of selfies. One day Stacy posts a photo of herself by the pool in her new string bikini. Another day, she takes a picture of herself in a sexy camisole getting ready for bed.

    These photos start to attract a lot of attention from her college peers. On her way to class one day she hears two guys she has never met talking about her as she walks by. She even sees one of her peers looking at one of her Instagram selfies on his phone in class.  

    Stacy’s best friend, Andrea, confronts her about posting these photos. She claims that showing this kind of photo on social media is not only dangerous but also can make guys think of Stacy as a skank. Stacy says she is simply expressing herself through these selfies, and that if people don’t want to see these photos, then they can stop following her on Instagram.

    Is Andrea right to be worried about Stacy? If guys take Stacy’s photos the wrong way, is that her responsibility? What if a man posted a photo of himself shirtless or in a bathing suit? Would that be a problem? If so, why is there a difference in the way we view photos put up by men and women?

    Useful Resources:

    A Framework for Ethical Decision-Making

    Video: It's Your Fault

    Opinion from a Young Teenage Girl

     

    Photo by Paige Worthy available under a Creative Commons license.

  •  Outside the Fold

    Monday, Sep. 16, 2013

    The best student comment on "Outside the Fold" wins a $100 Amazon gift certificate. Entries must be received by midnight, Sunday, September 29th, 2013. Subscribe to the blog (by RSS or by e-mail in the right hand column) for updates.

     
    **DISCLAIMER: All characters and scenarios in this post are fictional.**
     
    Alexa comes from a close-knit Chinese family. Her parents came to the United States from Beijing in 1981 so that her father could attend college. Alexa was born in California, and her parents chose to remain in the U.S. Although they are comfortable in their adopted homeland, they remain very traditional about certain things. In particular, they expect Alexa to marry a Chinese boy.
     
    Alexa, however, doesn’t see things the same way. When she went away to college, she was open to dating people from every ethnicity. She started seeing Brian, an Irish Catholic guy, two months into their freshman year. Now a junior, Alexa is expecting a visit from her parents, and Brian would like to meet them. 
     
    Should Alexa introduce Brian to her family? Is it racist for Alexa’s parents to oppose interracial relationships?  
     
    Useful Resources: