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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.
  •  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

  •  Tyler Clementi Case - What Punishment Is Justifiable?

    Monday, Apr. 2, 2012

     

    The best college student comment on "Tyler Clementi Case - What Punishment Is Justifiable?" wins a $100 Amazon gift certificate.  Entries must be received by midnight, April 15.  Finalists are selected by likes, so get your friends to like your comment. Subscribe to the blog (by RSS or by email in the right hand column) for updates.

    You've probably heard about the case of Tyler Clementi - a freshman at Rutgers University who committed suicide after his roommate, 18-year-old Dharun Ravi, secretly filmed and broadcasted Tyler having a homosexual encounter with another man. Three days later, Tyler committed suicide. Now, convicted of invasion of privacy, bias intimidation, witness tampering, and hindering arrest, Dharun faces 10 years in jail or deportation (Dharun, although living his whole life in the US, is technically native of India).  He will be sentenced in May.

    What punishment do you think fits the crime? How is it fair, and if so, why?  Does it bring justice to Tyler?  Does it serve some larger social purpose such as deterring further crimes?

    Below are some further facts to help assist your decision.

    Sept. 19th 2011: Tyler asked Dharun for the room to himself. Dharun then left the webcam of his computer on while he went over to a friend’s room to watch the live stream. He then posted on Twitter to his 150 followers, “Roommate asked for the room till midnight. I went into molly's room and turned on my webcam. I saw him making out with a dude. Yay”.

    Sept. 21st 2011: Tyler read Dharun’s Twitter post and complained to his resident assistant and two other officials, requesting a room change.

    Sept. 21st 2011: Another attempt was made by Dharun to film his roommate. And having contacted numerous people via text messages (one saying, “Yeah, keep the gays away”), an open iChat session was set up by Dharun accompanied with another Twitter post, this one saying, “Anyone with iChat, I dare you to video chat me between the hours of 9:30 and 12. Yes, it's happening again.” However, Tyler noticed the webcam and unplugged Dharun’s computer to prevent the filming.

     

    Sept. 22nd 2011: Tyler posts his intention to commit suicide and then goes through with the intention.

    Sept. 22nd 2011: Five minutes after Tyler’s post (although Dharun claims he didn’t see Tyler’s post until the next day), Dharun sends two apology emails within 15 minutes of one another. The first expressed his guilt and “good-natured” intentions in filming the first night; the second expressed his lack of bias against homosexuals.

    March 16th 2012: Dharun was found guilty of invasion of privacy, hindering apprehension, witness tampering, and biased intimidation pertaining to the second viewing incident. The jury concluded that Dharun did not act with a purpose to intimidate either Tyler or his guest because of their sexual orientation, but that Tyler reasonably believed that this was the case.

    The sentencing is set for May 21st.

     

    Further Information

    Framework for Ethical Decision Making 

    CBS News Interview with Tyler Clementi's Parents 

    ABC News Interview With Dharun Ravi

  •  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.