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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.

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  •  Charitable Acts

    Wednesday, Apr. 2, 2014

    The first 20 student comments on “Charitable Acts” 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, April 13th, 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.**

    Paula is a freshman at a large university in southern California. She is involved with a sorority, Alpha Alpha, on her campus. Paula rushed Alpha Alpha because she heard that it was heavily involved in philanthropy. In fact, Alpha Alpha hosts an annual philanthropy week donating money to a charity that raises money for cancer research.

    Paula is excited to take part in the weeklong activities because philanthropy and service have always been an important part of her life. She wants to find out more about the charity, and is thrilled that other college students will also be finding out more about cancer research and what they can individually do to help fight cancer.

    When the week approaches, Paula is surprised at the activities that will take place. She notices that not once in the week’s activities does it mention cancer research. Teams simply sign-up and have each member pay $15 to partake in the activities. Paula notices that the activities are simply attending a dinner at a local restaurant, performing a two-minute dance on stage, a karaoke tournament, a fashion show, and a scavenger hunt.

    Paula thinks the week is a lame excuse of a philanthropic effort. She hears from her older sorority sisters that teams just pay the fee and never hear about the charity again. Teams allegedly just participate to get drunk and attempt to win the activities for bragging rights. Paula is disappointed to be a part of such a philanthropy week.

    Are philanthropy weeks, like the one Paula’s sorority puts on, ethical? Do participants actually get an idea where their money is going? How can philanthropy weeks better incorporate education about the cause they are donating to? What about charity balls that older individuals take part in? Oftentimes individuals pay a large sum of money per plate at these charity events, but don’t learn much about the charity and just attend to boost their social status. Is there a difference between the way they are run and these college philanthropy weeks?

    Useful Resources:

    A Framework for Ethical Decision-Making

    Photo by Ahoova 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.

  •  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:
     
     
     
  •  To Snitch or Not To Snitch?

    Tuesday, Sep. 3, 2013

    The best student comment on "To Snitch or Not To Snitch?" wins a $100 Amazon gift certificate. Entries must be received by midnight, Sunday, September 15th, 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.**
     
    Joseph is a collegiate athlete. He used to play three sports in high school: football, basketball, and track. When he came to college, Joseph decided to row crew in order to stay in peak athletic shape. He had never rowed crew before in his life. While many would think that it is a difficult transition for him “on the field,” or in the boat in this case, he is finding it most difficult to transition to life in a college dorm.
     
    Joseph’s crew schedule is such that he has to wake up earlier than the average college student. He often has to be at practice at 6 am. In order to stay alert and perform to the best of his ability, Joseph sleeps early and doesn’t drink alcohol while crew is in season. While he doesn’t have a problem with students drinking alcohol and being drunk in the dorms, he gets annoyed when they are loud and keep him awake at night.
     
    Joseph’s roommate, Greg, doesn’t take part in collegiate athletics. He enjoys staying up late, drinking alcohol socially, and going to parties. As a result, Greg often leaves the room a mess with the smell of alcohol lingering. Greg also tends to wander into the room at late hours and wake Joseph up. Joseph has talked with Greg about trying to stay clean and keeping it down, especially on Friday nights because crew regattas are early on Saturday mornings.
     
    One Friday night, Greg and a few of the other dorm residents are drinking and being loud in the common areas. Joseph can hear them as he tries to sleep to prepare for the regatta in the morning. He sends Greg a text asking him to keep it down, but thirty minutes later they seem to be making even more noise. Joseph calls campus safety and files a noise complaint. As a result, the dorm quiets down but Greg and his friends are caught drinking in the common area and receive fines and community service.
     
    Should Joseph have reported the incident to campus safety? Is it wrong for Joseph to request his dorm mates respect that he has to wake up early to row crew? Does Greg have a right to be upset at his roommate? Do you find that college students are inconsiderate of their surroundings on campus? Do students often treat dorms as a party scene as opposed to a home? 
     
    Useful Resources:
     
     
     
     
     
     
    Photo by Jason Wun 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.

  •  An Offhand Remark

    Monday, Aug. 5, 2013

    The best student comment on "An Offhand Remark" wins a $100 Amazon gift certificate. Entries must be received by midnight, Sunday, August 18th, 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.**

    Lindsey and Danielle are new freshman roommates. Although they come from very different backgrounds—Lindsey is from a small town in Minnesota and Danielle is from Los Angeles—they’ve already bonded. The third week of the quarter, Lindsey and Danielle go together to a party. They’re having a great time chatting with some people they’ve just met when Danielle makes a crack about the “chink” who lives on their floor and how she will probably “mess up the curve” in the calculus class they’re taking together because Asians don’t do anything but study. Lindsey is taken aback. She didn’t think Danielle was the type of person who would make such an offensive comment.

    Should Lindsey say something immediately? Should she wait and talk to Danielle in private? Or should she just let the comment go without remarking on it at all?

    Useful Resources:

    A Framework for Ethical Decision-Making

    One of College's Most Exacting Lessons: Roommates

    College Relationships: Roommate Tips for Dorm Life

    How to Handle a Bad College Roommate

  •  Whose Life is it Anyway?

    Monday, Jul. 22, 2013

    The best student comment on "Whose Life is it Anyway?" wins a $100 Amazon gift certificate. Entries must be received by midnight, Sunday, August 4th, 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 a sophomore in college majoring in accounting. He has never truly been interested in accounting, however. In fact, Robert is very passionate about filmmaking. Since his early years, he has known that he wants to become a director. He is only majoring in accounting at his parent’s wishes.
     
    Robert’s parents are paying for his college, and as a result, he finds himself in a very difficult situation. Since his parents are paying for him to be at college, he understands why they should have some say in his major. At the same time, however, Robert believes that majoring in accounting is a huge waste of time for him, because in the future he knows he doesn’t want anything to do with accounting. 
     
    Since Robert is not interested in accounting, his grades have recently suffered. While his parents stress the importance of getting a high GPA, he has been stuck in the 3.2 range throughout college.
     
    Robert has just gotten his grades back for the spring quarter and he got a 3.1. His parents are upset that he was unable to get better grades. They insist that he can do better and that there is no reason why he isn’t doing so.
     
    Robert finally strikes up the courage to tell his parents that he never wants to become an accountant. He tells them that he wants to become a filmmaker. Robert’s parents tell him this is an impractical dream of his. It should be a hobby not a career path. They insist that he stays in accounting and tell him that if he doesn’t start getting better grades his future is in trouble.
     
    Many parents want to be involved in their child’s college education, especially when they are paying the bills. When is this desire to be involved reasonable guidance and when does it become intrusion? If students are 18 and adults, shouldn’t they be given freedom to be responsible for their own actions? Does Robert’s father have a right to feel upset about his low son’s low GPA? Should he be allowed to decide Robert’s major? What should Robert do?

    Useful Resources: 
     

    Choosing a Major in College: Do Parents Get a Say?

  •  Homework or Teamwork?

    Monday, Jul. 8, 2013

    The best student comment on "Homework or Teamwork" wins a $100 Amazon gift certificate. Entries must be received by midnight, Sunday, July 21th, 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.**

    Kim was a star soccer player in high school and hopes to continue playing in college. The college she will be attending has Division III women’s soccer, and the coach is anxious for Kim to join the team.

    However, her college is also very challenging academically. She’s heard from some people on the team that, especially during the season, it’s better to take easier classes so you can go to practices and games, and also get your work done without stressing. Kim doesn’t feel comfortable following this advice because she really chose her college because of its strong academic reputation. On the other hand, she doesn’t want to settle for intramural soccer, which she thinks won’t allow her to play up to her potential.

    What role should sports play in Kim’s college life?

    Useful Resources:

    A Framework for Ethical Decision-Making

    Grading College Athletes

    College Athletes: Academic Performance: Behind the Line on Grades

     

    Photo by Jeremy Wilburn available under a Creative Commons license.

  •  Home Sweet Home

    Friday, Jun. 21, 2013

    The best student comment on "Home Sweet Home" wins a $100 Amazon gift certificate. Entries must be received by midnight, Sunday, July 7th, 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.**

    After a long, tough finals week, Sophia has completed her freshman year of college. She can’t believe how fast the year went. She made many new friends and experienced the freedom of independence, living away from her parents for the first time in her life. Now, it’s summer break, and Sophia is returning home to work for a local restaurant. All she wants to do during break is work, go to the gym, and hang out with her old high school friends.

    Sophia’s parents are very strict and like to know where she is at all times. They also enjoy having her at home to spend time with the family, and stress the importance of academics and getting good grades. In high school, Sophia often had to stay home at nights when her friends were getting together. When Sophia was allowed out, she had to return home before her parents went to bed at midnight.

    Sophia has gotten used to the freedom of college, however. She’s 19 now, after all. She enjoys being spontaneous, making her own choices, not having to report her coordinates to her parents at all times, and staying out late. That being said, she has still been able to maintain over a 3.7 cumulative GPA in her first year at college.

    Several days after returning home for break, Sophia’s best friend from high school decides to host a reunion party. Sophia works from 10am to 4pm at the restaurant, heads to the gym, and makes it home in time for dinner at 6pm.

    At the dinner table, Sophia tells her parents she is going to the reunion party in a couple of hours. While Sophia loves to be spontaneous, her parents love to schedule out their plans well ahead of time. They inform Sophia that they’ve planned a family night and that she needs to be home to spend time with her two younger siblings.

    Conversation turns into argument. Sophia claims she is independent now and can make her own decisions. Her parents state that while she is still living under their roof, she needs to listen to their judgment. They stress they are not being the “fun police,” but are emphasizing family values. If Sophia would have told them ahead of time, they claim they would have let her go. 

    Sophia pretends to go to bed upset and sneaks out to go to the party.

    Should Sophia have snuck out to go to the party? Have you ever snuck out from home? Is Sophia independent? Should she be able to make her own decisions at home? Is it fair for Sophia’s parents to ask her to plan ahead of time, or should she be allowed to continue her spontaneous nature? Is there a point of compromise?

    Useful Resources:

    A Framework for Ethical Decision-Making

    Social Intelligence: Returning Home from College for the Summer

     

  •  The Dealer in the Next Room

    Monday, Sep. 5, 2011

    Best student comment wins a $50 Amazon Gift Certificate. Responses must be received by midnight September 11, 2011

    Isaac moved off campus his sophomore year into an apartment with his friend Jason. Isaac and Jason met in their dorm during freshman year. Isaac always thought Jason seemed like a really cool guy until he discovered that Jason was into cocaine. Not only was Jason a user; he also distributed cocaine to others on campus. Isaac doesn’t want to rat Jason out because they’re friends, but Isaac doesn’t want to run the risk of being kicked out of his apartment, or worse, going to jail.

    Should Isaac confront Jason and tell him that he knows he has been using and selling cocaine? Should Isaac tell a school counselor? the police?

     Here are some resources you may find useful:

    A Framework for Ethical Decision Making 

    Signs of Drug Use

    College Drug Use 

     

    Photo by International Relations and Security Network available under Attribution- Non Commercial- No Derivs License.

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