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.

The following postings have been filtered by tag free speech. clear filter
  •  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.

  •  Crusading at the Dinner Table

    Monday, Aug. 19, 2013

    The best student comment on "Crusading at the Dinner Table" wins a $100 Amazon gift certificate. Entries must be received by midnight, Sunday, September 1st, 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.**


    Towards the end of her senior year of high school, Grace volunteered for a local animal rights organization. Although she was always an animal lover, she had never really considered the issue of animals being raised to be eaten. During her time with the organization, she became passionate about animal rights and became a vegetarian. She was also able to convince her parents to become vegetarians.

    Now a new freshman, Grace faces a dilemma. Everyone around her seems to eat meat. Though the dining hall offers plenty of vegetarian options, she is unhappy about the presence of meat as a constant feature among the offerings.

    Grace isn’t able to put aside her feelings about the suffering of animals. Going by her own experience of having her eyes opened to the cause, Grace is convinced that spreading knowledge about the suffering of farm animals is the only way of converting more people into vegetarians.

    On one hand, she feels she has a duty, when sitting at a table with people who are consuming meat, to express her beliefs. On the other hand, she knows that directly confronting people about their choices tends to alienate them. She would like to establish good relationships and friendships with the people around her, but she would also like to express her beliefs and teach people about her cause. Should Grace confront her friends at the dining table?

    Useful Resources:

    A Framework for Ethical Decision-Making

    Stand Up, Speak Out: The College Student's Guide to Activism

    Ethics Guide: Eating Animals

     

    Photo by Ben Isacat available under a Creative Commons license.

  •  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: According to Cameron

    Wednesday, Mar. 30, 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

    Mary is well within her rights to post her “Yes on Prop 8” poster. Though I do not agree with her opinion, I believe she should be allowed to express it, as long as she does so in a civil way. Mary is not forcing her opinion on anyone, and she is not speaking out against the gay community.

    I think James is overreacting to Mary’s opinion because it conflicts with his own. By trying to force Mary to take her poster down, James is being extremely hypocritical. Mary could easily turn James’ own argument against him, and say she is offended by his opinion and demand that he take down all of his posters.

    There is a clear difference between open prejudice and an expression of opinion or support for a certain viewpoint. Even as a supporter of gay rights, including the right to marry a person of the same sex, I think it is extremely important that no opinion (except overly hateful or clearly offensive displays) be suppressed. After all, if both James and Mary and their respective parties were not able to express their opinions, none of them would have any say in the matter whatsoever. I doubt this would be appealing to James, seeing as the very rights he is campaigning for were the product of the right to free speech, the same free speech that Mary is entitled to.

    Who is Cameron Tow?

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

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

    Photo used under creative commons from Dana Rocks
  •  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

    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