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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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  •  Fast Friends: Rushing Intimate Relationships

    Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014

    We’ve all heard that “your greatest friends come in college”—those lifelong friends that you toast to at the Grand Reunion or dance the night away with at your wedding reception. As freshmen, we envision ourselves surrounded by this core group of loyal companions from the get-go. We’re expected to post pictures of our fabulous new BFFs on Facebook and form an inseparable clique within a matter of weeks.

    When we come to college, we don’t want to wait around. We need friends, and we need them quickly! We rush relationships. We talk about our successes and failures, our home lives and our love lives, our fears and our ambitions.  

    The problems arise when we over-share and try to force intimacy.  Relationships don’t need to be physical to be intimate; close friendships are intimate in an emotional way. Premature intimacy of any kind can lead to heartache.
    Imagine that you’ve had a rough day. For comfort, you confide in a new friend, Sam. After a night of venting, you decide to share a troubling secret—you feel safe.
    The next day, however, you’re approached by a stranger in the hallway.  The stranger places his hands on your shoulders, and says, “Hey, Sam told me what happened. Feel better!”
    What!? Your new friend spilled. You’re hurt, but you doubt that Sam shared your secret maliciously. Either way, what do you do? There’s an imbalance of trust.
     
    Healthy relationships depend upon a strong foundation of trust, and trust takes time. Think carefully about your closest friends. How long have they been around? Many of our dearest friends have held prominent positions in our lives for one, five, or maybe even ten years. Often, you’ve grown up with one another, from the toddler diaper days to the teenaged braces phase. You’ve seen everything—the good and the bad. You’ve endured catty high school drama or vigorous sports team practices side-by-side. You know each other inside and out.
     
    During the beginning of college anonymity seems devastating, yet friendships with unreciprocated trust may sting just as badly.  What has been your experience with friendship in college?  When do you know you can trust someone?  How do you define true friendship?
     
     
  •  Off the Hook-Up Culture

    Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014

    The first 20 student comments on "Off the Hook-Up Culture" win a $5 Yiftee gift to a local business of your choice! Entries must be received by midnight, Sunday, February 2nd, 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.**

    Frank is a college junior at a small private university. Before coming to college he had a girlfriend for two years, ending abruptly because they were going separate ways. His attitude coming to college was to remain single, grow academically and professionally, and enjoy youthful experiences.

    In his freshman year, Frank found that the culture at his college largely matched what he was looking for. Hooking up was very common, and long-term relationships were rare. During his first year at school, Frank saw a lot of different women and had sex with several of them, rarely more than once or twice. He had some good experiences with women who he would have liked to pursue longer, but he just didn’t think the culture allowed for it.

    All the students seemed to be focused on bettering their future. They were academically and professionally driven, not driven by relationships and finding love. Some of Frank’s peers explicitly said they didn’t have time for a romantic relationship, and had no interest since they didn’t know what state they would be living in after graduation.

    At the beginning of his junior year, Frank got involved in an uncommitted sexual relationship with Susan, a girl he always had been interested in getting to know better. After hooking up once, they both discussed how they weren’t looking for a relationship but enjoyed each other’s company. Frank and Susan continued this exclusive, hook-up relationship for the first half of the semester. While they both enjoyed time with one another, the uncommitted relationship ended unexpectedly when Susan wanted more and Frank was still unsure he was ready to fully commit.

    Frank went back to his routine random hook-ups, but he soon realized that he wasn’t enjoying them anymore. There was no long-term fulfillment and growth that he had started to feel with Susan. Frank stopped hooking up with girls randomly, and instead started searching for something deeper. He spent the rest of the quarter not hooking up with anyone and realizing how difficult it was to find a relationship in college, especially after he had built a negative reputation after hooking up with so many women around his small college campus.

    Frank’s friends approached him one day in an “intervention.” They were genuinely concerned about him because he was acting so different than usual and seemed depressed. They told him that he was in a funk after his time with Susan. He needed to get back out and hook-up with girls again, so that all would be normal again.

    What should Frank do? Is Frank just heart-broken from Susan? Should Frank be hooking up with more girls? Should he not be? Why do students hook-up? In the college hook-up culture, is the choice to not hook-up just as acceptable as the choice to hook-up? Why or why not?

    Useful Resources:

    A Framework for Ethical Decision-Making

    American Psychological Association: Sexual hook-up culture

    Does Hookup Culture Hurt Women?

    9 Reasons ‘Hookup Culture’ Hurts Boys Too

  •  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.
  •  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

  •  Oh, the Cleaners Will Get That

    Monday, Sep. 12, 2011

    Best Student Comment Wins a $50 Amazon gift card. Responses must be received by midnight, September 12, 2011

    Mike is new to the Bike Club on campus and the first meeting just finished. As members start shuffling out of the room, Mike notices no one picks up the trash. Mike starts to gather plates, cups, and napkins and throw them away.

    The president of the Bike Club, Tom, says, “Oh, the cleaners will get that.” Do students have a responsibility to clean up after themselves? Or is it not that important since the University pays people to clean?

     

    Here are some resources you may find useful:

     A Framework for Ethical Decision Making 

    Staff Perspective on College Behavior 

    Civility at Rutgers

     

    Photo by r_melgaresavailable under Attribution- Non Commercial- No Derivs License.

  •  I Want to Remain a Virgin

    Monday, Aug. 29, 2011

      Best student comment wins a $50 Amazon Gift Certificate. Responses must be received by midnight September 4, 2011

    Katherine entered college with a very high standard for herself regarding sex. She is proud of her choice to remain a virgin until marriage. Now she has met the most amazing guy during the fall term of her freshman year. Max, her boyfriend, believes physical affection and even sex are important ways of showing how much two people care for each other. He has pressed Katherine to express their growing romance sexually, but so far she has said no.

    Should Katherine revise her beliefs about sex because someone she respects and wants to have a deep relationship with believes differently? His views are probably the mainstream views among their friends, she realizes.

    Should Max keep pressing her for sex? Is his bringing it up often a legitimate part of his wanting to express his love for her? Or do his frequent suggestions show a lack of respect for her beliefs?

     

    Some resources you may find useful:

    A Framework for Ethical Decision Making 

    More College Hookups, but More Virgins Too

    10 Truly Shocking Stats on STDs and College Students

     

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

  •  Living Situations

    Monday, Aug. 22, 2011

     Best student comment wins a $50 Amazon Gift Certificate. Responses must be received by midnight August 29, 2011

     

    With his acceptance to his first-choice school, a medium-sized private university far from his hometown, Mo gets a package of information about his options for dorm living. He’s heard a lot about the various Residential Learning Communities on campus, each of which focuses on a different theme. As an African American, Mo is interested in exploring his racial and cultural identity, so he’s drawn to the African American–themed dorm, United. But then he wonders whether living in United will limit his interactions with students from other communities. He doesn’t want to be defined entirely by being African American, but he also doesn’t want to feel isolated in a dorm where there may be no other African American students.

    Should Mo choose the United dorm knowing it may allow him the best chance to explore his ethnic identity, or should he opt for another residence hall where the dorm’s theme may attract a wider variety of students?

    Some resources you may find useful:

    A Framework for Ethical Decision Making 

    The Impact of Diversity on College Students

    Why Does Diversity Matter in College Anyways?

     

    Photo by Derek Severson 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.