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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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  •  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.
  •  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.

     

  •  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.
  •  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.

  •  Facebook Gossip or Cyberbullying?

    Monday, Aug. 15, 2011

    Best student comment wins a $50 Amazon Gift Certificate.  Responses must be received by midnight August 21, 2011.

    Paige, a college freshman, needed to put the finishing touches on a poli sci paper that was due at 11. After her 9 a.m. class, she returned to her room in the residence hall to check the footnotes, but when she unlocked the door, her roommate Cheyenne was in bed with the comforter pulled up above her head.

    Paige flicked on the light. It wasn't her problem that Cheyenne was such a party girl. She hadn't come home the night before, and that was hardly the first time. She decided to ignore Cheyenne and opened her laptop to begin her work. But when she started typing, Cheyenne growled at her to go somewhere else.

    Paige had told some friends to come by her room before class, and now she had to let them know she wouldn't be there. On her way out of the residence hall, she posted a new status to her Facebook: "Cheyenne (AKA the skank) is sleeping it off in the room. I'll be in the library."

    By the time she reopened her laptop, her friend Ivy had commented on her status: "That girl is going to be pregnant before midterms." And Leanne followed with lol.

    Paige was astonished when she got back from dinner that night to be approached by Tara, the Resident Fellow on her floor. Tara said she wanted to talk with Paige about cyberbullying Cheyenne.

    Do you think Paige was engaged in cyberbullying? If so, do you think the university should get involved in the issue?

     

    Some resources you may find useful:

    A Framework for Ethical Decision Making 

     Destructive Bullying 

    Facebook Crimes on Rise

     

    Photo by Herbstkind available under Attribution- Non Commercial- No Derivs License.

  •  Sexiled

    Monday, Jul. 11, 2011

     $50 Amazon gift certificate to the best student response on this case received by midnight, July 17th.

    Brad and Wilson are roommates. Brad is an outgoing, free-spirited, notorious "ladies man." Wilson prefers to spend his time in the dorm, reading and doing homework. At first, they got along well, with their personalities complementing each other.  But then Brad started bringing women to the room unannounced. During the day, he'd make some not very subtle comment about wanting to be alone and expect Wilson to split.  Sometimes he brought a date home for a "sleepover," and he seemed not to care if Wilson stayed in the room.  But that made Wilson feel like a voyeur, so he slept on the couch in the lounge.  Once he even missed class because, without his alarm clock, he overslept.

    Wilson doesn't want to upset Brad by asking him not to bring women back to the dorm so late and so often, nor does he want their friendship to become awkward or tense.   But he'd also like the use of his own room.  How should he approach this problem with Brad?

    Here are some resources that might be useful:

    A Framework for Ethical Decision Making

    Sexiling 101

    7 Tips for a Better Rommate Experience

     

    Photo by Chrissy Hunt available under Attribution- Non Commercial- No Derivs License.

     

     

  •  Party!

    Monday, Jun. 27, 2011

    Starting the first week of Will's freshman year at a large state university, there was always a party going on. There were frat parties, tailgates, theme parties, and dances. Even within Will's dorm, some group was always having a good time--playing poker, watching movies, or just hanging out.

    At first, Will enjoyed the social scene and getting to know people; he didn't see a problem with adjusting to the social atmosphere before really getting into the academics. But two months into college, he found himself behind in a couple of classes, and handing in work that he wasn't very proud of. He would promise himself to study, but then get sidetracked when one of his buddies dropped by his room and asked him to go out.

    Will had come to college to prepare himself for a career in law, and he knew he needed to perform reasonably well to get into law school. But he also figured that college was supposed to the best time in his life, which it certainly wasn't going to be if all he did was study. What was the right balance? What difference would it make either way?

    Some Interesting Facts and Resources

    About 29 percent of incoming students chose their colleges based on the reputation of their "social activities."

    Chronicle of Higher Education, 2003

    Most guides recommend about 2 hours of study a week for each hour in the classroom. Generally this will work out to between 30 and 45 hours. But the National Survey of Student Engagement found that many students try to get by on far less. Of freshmen at four-year residential colleges, only 12 percent spent 26 hours or more preparing for class.

    "A" students average 3.1 drinks per week
    "B" students average 4.4 drinks per week
    "C" students averages 5.6 drinks per week
    "D" and "F" students average 9.5 drinks per week The Bacchus Network

    A Framework for Ethical Decision Making

     

    Photo by mel_rowling available under Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial License.