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The following postings have been filtered by tag ethics. clear filter
  •  Poster Wars: An Ethics Perspective

    Friday, Apr. 1, 2011

    Mary puts up a poster on her dorm room door opposing gay marriage. James, a floormate, finds it offensive. What should happen?

    Read the full case

    The other responders to this case have covered several of the ethical issues, especially how to balance the right of free speech with the harm that may come from attacking someone else’s identity.

    Identity has become an increasingly important part of ethics. For a long time, ethics was much more concerned with whether some isolated action was right or wrong, and not as concerned with who was doing the action—with the person’s history, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, core values, context, and all the other things that make us who we really are and that profoundly affect what we do.

    While this new dimension of identity has been a boon for ethics in many ways, there are times when it has stopped ethical reflection dead in its tracks. This happens when identity becomes something unchanging, beyond challenge, unable to be discussed, and easily offended: I am who I am, and you have no right to infringe on my sense of who I am. When I speak, I am asserting who I am in a way that you may not question.

    But identity can’t be locked down, definitely not in life and rightfully not in the swirl of conversation that is college life. We may affirm something constant about who we are, but we have to acknowledge that we are always changing, too. And speech—whether it’s a poster on a dorm room door or a discussion in class—is the great engine of this change. Could the poster on Mary’s door initiate a conversation in the dorm that changes the way that Mary and James see themselves? Perhaps that conversation leads them to change their opinions of Prop 8. Perhaps it leads them to re-affirm those opinions. Perhaps what emerges is an unforeseen, diverse community on a dorm hallway previously inhabited by separate, fixed identities of the too-rigidly assertive and the too-easily offended.


    Who is David DeCosse?

    Agree with David?  Have another perspective?  Leave us your feedback?  Today is the last day for a chance to win $50 for the best comment on Poster Wars.

  •  Poster Wars: A Parent's Perspective

    Thursday, Mar. 31, 2011

    To think about this case, I have to go back to the primary reason I sent my kids to college: to be educated. If I had wanted them to encounter only the ideas I raised them with, they might as well have stayed home. From that perspective, I’d say that a campus should remain open to different viewpoints to the widest extent possible. In other words, Mary’s poster stays.

    That doesn’t mean I’m insensitive to the offense James feels—or the pain a Jewish student may feel when a floormate posts a “Zionism=Racism” poster or a Latino student may feel about a "Support Arizona" poster.  While there may be some posters that are beyond the pale even for me, the examples above are expressions of political beliefs. I may not agree with them, but as a general rule, I think the value of dialogue on a university campus supersedes the possible offense such expressions may create.

     

  •  Poster Wars: Deepti Says

    Tuesday, Mar. 29, 2011

    Mary puts up a poster on her dorm room door opposing gay marriage. James, a floormate, finds it offensive. What should happen?

    Read the full case

    It seems to me that Mary would be in the wrong for putting such a poster in a hallway through which James, and others who may themselves be homosexual, are compelled to walk. The dorm hallway is as much part of James’ temporary home as it is part of Mary’s. For Mary to put her neighbor in a position in which he is confronted on a daily basis with an [albeit silent] attack to his very identity, within a space that could be considered his home, is unethical. James has a right to feel respected and secure within his own home. To view on a daily basis a public denouncement of his rights would not be conducive to any such feelings.

    If Mary keeps the poster up, she must be prepared for a neighbor to post on his or her door an attack on some aspect of her own identity. The dorm director, who has a responsibility to ensure that all residents feel secure, should request that Mary move the poster to someplace within the confines of her own room, provided her roommate is not offended by it.

    Who is Deepti Shenoy?

    Agree with Deepti?  Think she has it all wrong?  Post your comment for the chance to win $50 prize for best student response.  Rules

  •  Poster Wars: When Is Speech Offensive?

    Monday, Mar. 28, 2011
    Photo used under creative commons from Dana Rocks
    Photo used under creative commons from Dana Rocks

    Mary lives in a college dorm and displays a poster on her door with the text of California Proposition 8: “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.” She supported the successful “Yes on 8” campaign.  A constitutional challenge to the proposition is now working its way through the courts, and Mary is involved in the effort to prevent the proposition from being declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court.

    James, her dorm neighbor, finds this poster offensive and demands Mary take it down. He worked to defeat the measure, which he feels is homophobic and discriminatory. To Mary, the poster is an expression of her beliefs and identity, and she does not think she should have to remove it.

    What should happen now?

    Best student response wins $50.  Rules

    Here are some resources from different perspectives that might help you decide:

    Making an Ethical Decision 

    Hate Speech on Campus: Pros and Cons 

    Student Speech: ACLU 

    Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) 

    Responding to Bigotry and Intergroup Strife on Campus: Anti-Defamation League

    Photo by Dana Rocks available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial License

     

  •  Meet the Bloggers: Student Cameron Tow

    Thursday, Mar. 24, 2011

    Cameron Tow is a senior psychology major at Santa Clara University.

    Following the three most frighteningly short years of my life, I now find myself as a senior at Santa Clara University, unwilling to accept that my undergraduate career is almost over. After browsing the aisles of academia for what felt like all of twenty minutes, I have finally settled on psychology as a major. Chief among my limited accomplishments so far has been helping to found the Lambda Gamma chapter of the Sigma Chi fraternity, of which I am a member of the inaugural Alpha class. I have lived in three places throughout my life: New York, where my family now lives, Australia, where I spent a few of the most impressionable years of my life (and brought back a gnarly accent to prove it, which I have unfortunately since lost), and California, where I now go to school and hope to build my adult life. My tentative plan is to get some form of graduate degree and then hopefully a job.

     

  •  Meet the Bloggers: Parent Miriam Schulman

    Thursday, Mar. 24, 2011

    Ethics Center Communications Director Miriam Schulman is also the parent of a college junior and a recent graduate.

    Like many parents of college students today, I am a boomer. I entered college myself--Brandeis University--in 1969, the year of the moonwalk, Woodstock, and the national student strike. In other words, I’m well aware that the current generation did not invent sex, drugs, and rock and roll. I’ve always had an interest in ethics, particularly social justice. Right out of college, I joined Volunteers in Service to America (the domestic Peace Corps), which matured into my first job as the editor of a community newspaper. Along the way, I picked up a master’s in journalism from Columbia University and then went on for a master’s in creative writing from Stanford. I’ve been lucky to be able to put my skills and interests together as the communications director of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University, where I have also taught in the Communication Department.

  •  Meet the Bloggers: Student Deepti Shenoy

    Wednesday, Mar. 23, 2011

    Currently a law student at University of Pennsylvania, Deepti Shenoy wrote her responses when she was a senior at Santa Clara University.

    In college, I was constantly discovering new passions I couldn’t resist pursuing. Triple majoring in History, Religious Studies and Women and Gender Studies definitely kept me on my toes, and my various academic and nonacademic activities, including six classes every quarter, working as peer educator in a yearlong Ethics and Globalization class, becoming involved in research with my professors, various art projects, learning cooking, and vegetable gardening made me feel a bit like a professional juggler. It was a challenge, and at times I had my parents pulling their hair out in frustration, but what’s life without a little excitement? At least, that’s what I keep telling myself, since it doesn’t look like things will be slowing down anytime soon.

  •  Meet the Bloggers: Student Intern Alicia Rangel

    Tuesday, Mar. 22, 2011

    As The Big Q's student intern, Alicia Rangel manages the project Facebook page and video contest.

    Originally from San Jose, CA, I decided to keep it local when it came to college and I am a senior at Santa Clara University. My major is management, and I also have a minor in music. I hope to work for a major tech company, a start–up non-profit, or some happy mix of the two when I graduate. I would also love to continue my other interests post–graduation, which include music, theater, and art.

  •  Who Should Read the Big Q?

    Thursday, Mar. 17, 2011

    First and foremost, the Big Q is for college students.  We want it to be an online hub for honest discussion about the everyday--but sometimes complicated--ethical issues students have to come to grips with. 

    But the Big Q is also for the people who care about college students--parents, teachers, and student life professionals.  It's a way to find out what issues students are wrestling with.

    We'd love for the blog to be place where students can talk among themselves and also with older people who  understand--or want to understand--what they are going through.