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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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  •  Sexual Assaults on Campus

    Monday, Nov. 10, 2014

    On Thursday evening, one by one, students poured into the ethics center classroom, eager to discuss an important issue on campus—sexual assault.  The attentive crowd exuded emotionally charged energy. Women composed the vast majority of the audience; however, several men sat peppered throughout the crowd.

    Students already face many hurdles as they learn, develop, and mature during college. Sexual assault should not be one of these challenges.
     
    We’ve already heard the alarming statistics. One in five women will likely be victims of sexual assaults (or attempted sexual assault) on college campuses. Every 21 hours, another rape takes place on college campuses. Among college women, nine in ten victims of rape and sexual assault knew their offender.
     
    Now, we wanted to hear the voices, your voices. 
     
    In our culture, topics of sex are shushed and somewhat taboo. Discussions of sexual assaults, specifically, are difficult and often traumatic for the victims. Our goal? Create a comfortable, safe space to unite—men and women, activists and victims—and to actively explore the virtues of justice and compassion in light of such experiences.
     
    The Big Q has particular interest in the intersection between sexual assaults on campus and university responsibility. Our forum brought forth the following questions:
    • Do universities have an ethical mandate to help to end sexual assault on campus? Is it the school’s job, student’s job, or a combination of both to create a safe environment?
    • How should judicial policies reflect the ideals of justice and compassion for the victims?
    • What role do ethics play in protecting the rights of the accused offenders? 
    Finally, where are our current efforts to end sexual assault lacking? The numbers alone show these incidences on campus are far too common. We’re called to action.
     
    What are some next steps for us to take?
  •  Five Ethical Dilemmas Freshmen Face

    Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014
    Welcome Weekend and Move-In Day finally arrive—the culmination of the longest summer of a freshman’s life. Lines of fully packed SUVs wrap campus, bulging with mattress pads, futons, and Container Store bags. Students pulse with excitement and fidget with nervous energy. In the dorms, parents sort boxes and hang photos, while freshmen begin to contemplate the placement of a something especially significant—themselves.
     
    During the first year of college, there’s a whole lot of new. Change lies in the far edges of an unknown campus, behind the door of a co-inhabited room, and underneath the cover of a thick, intimidating textbook. We’re bombarded with questions surrounding new faces, a new school, and a new routine.
     
    Often, freshmen face the following questions and conflicts that test their conscience and push new boundaries.
     
    1.    Do I have to conform? It’s human nature—everyone wants to fit in. We want to feel comfortable, accepted, and loved.  When making friends proves difficult, conformity seems to triumph over individuality. To an outsider, social skills and popularity render instant happiness. During freshmen year, students often ask themselves, how much of me am I willing to forfeit?  Am I willing to lie about who I am?
     
    2.    Do I pick a major based on passion or post-graduate salary? Many freshmen hear a piece of conventional wisdom, “Minor in what you love, but major in what gets you a job.” College students stand at a pivotal crossroads in their lives, torn by conflicting voices. In one ear, we hear encouraging whispers of pursuing passions; in the other, we’re fed constant reminders of debt, expense, and the pressure to provide.
     
    3.    Do I have to adhere to “hookup culture”? We’ve all heard our friends’ and parents’ stories about finding love in college. Today, the hype over casual hookups seems to squash the idea of the classic, committed relationship. Do couples even meet in class anymore? Many freshmen enter the first year with an idea of the “norm” already in place—the courting happens after hours, often with a drink in hand. Is casual sex okay?
     
    4.    How do I live with someone else? In college, roommates present gifts and challenges, all in one. Soon, moments of “me time” shrink from entire evenings to convenient class schedule incongruencies. On move-in day some freshmen meet lifelong best friends; others meet acquaintances. Regardless of the situation, freshmen quickly learn that they’ll have to address both trivial and complex roommate conflicts. How do I tell someone that his or her behavior bothers me? What’s normal, and what constitutes “crossing the line”?
     
    5.    Do I party? The media broadcasts that college life revolves around one thing—parties. We hear the message loud and clear. A typical night involves keg stands, sweaty, packed basements, and an endless supply of potent drinks, right? Freshmen ask themselves, do I have to party to fit in? Does everyone drink?  Unfortunately, the consequences of underage binge drinking (including it’s illegality) outlast the day-after headache. What does partying mean for my reputation?
     

     

  •  Spreading Wings

    Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014

    The first 20 student comments on “Spreading Wings” 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, March 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.**

    Lucy is a second semester senior at a small private university near San Francisco. Coming into college, Lucy had to choose between two similar universities on opposite sides of the country, one in California and the other in New York. Lucy’s decision came down to location and she ended up selecting the California university because of its proximity to her home and family.

    Now, Lucy is preparing for her post-graduate life. She has applied to countless jobs in public relations, as her father has always told her that getting a job is a numbers game. Several positions have been on the East Coast, but the majority have been in California. Lucy knows her mother would like her to stay close to home. Lucy has a younger brother still in high school whom she could mentor, and an older sister who lives at home and commutes to her job in the city.

    Lucy’s dream job is to work for a global public relations agency in a big city like New York or Chicago. She isn’t really interested in doing public relations for the technology industry. California agencies largely work in technology, so if she stayed close to home she would likely have to work tech for part of her career.

    That being said, family is the most important aspect of Lucy’s life. She was raised in a home where family is No. 1, and there were no compromises when it came to the family’s well-being. Everyone in her family looks out for one another. She would absolutely love to stay near them if she has the opportunity after college.

    After a long and hard job search, Lucy manages to get an internship at one of the largest global public relations agencies in Chicago. She also gets several good agency jobs in San Francisco, including one at a global public relations firm working in technology. Lucy is struggling with her decision. She knows that she doesn’t really want to work in technology, but she does want to stay close to home if possible. Both agency jobs pay around the same, and she would be able to grow in each company with hard work. She also could jump location eventually should she desire to experience working in a different city.

    Should Lucy choose to stay close to home or move away to a more desirable career opportunity? Which option will bring Lucy more happiness? What is more important, individual career goals or family responsibility and loyalty? Does Lucy have an ethical responsibility to consider family when preparing for her future career? Why or why not?

    Useful Resources:

    A Framework for Ethical Decision-Making

    How to Deal With Moving Away From Your Family

    Photo by Amanda Tipton available under a Creative Commons license.

     

  •  Browsing or Cyberstalking?

    Monday, Nov. 11, 2013

    Entries for "Browsing or Cyberstalking" must be received by midnight, Sunday, November 24th, 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.**
     
    Lauren is a junior at a small university. While she finds she fits in at her college, her decision to attend was based on following her high school boyfriend of two years, Dave. After two more years of dating in college, Dave decides he wants to go separate ways, and thinks it best if the two don’t see each other anymore.
     
    Though they have no face-to-face interaction, Lauren maintains her online connections to Dave. She constantly checks on what he is doing and who he is spending time with through his Facebook posts, Instagram photos, and tweets. She often shows up at restaurants or bars he says he is attending, and “accidentally” runs into him, to force real life interaction.
     
    A few weeks later, Lauren is browsing Dave’s Facebook and notices that he is spending a lot of time with a sophomore at their university, Emily. She immediately feels jealous and starts to monitor Emily’s social media pages as well. She even begins comparing herself with Emily to her friends, complaining about how Dave “lowered his standards.”
     
    It’s been several months since Lauren’s break up with Dave, and while they haven’t spent time together in person, she knows the ins and outs of his life. She talks about him so much to her friends, that they’ve started to become sick of it. She’s also making herself miserable because her online monitoring isn’t letting her get over her break-up. One day, one of Lauren and Dave’s mutual friends approaches Dave and tells him Lauren has been checking up on him and his new girlfriend on social media. Dave is surprised and disturbed by the information.
     
    What should Dave do, keeping in mind they are all still students at the same university? Is Lauren’s “online monitoring” equivalent to cyberstalking? What is the line between checking up on your old friends and stalking them? Have you ever personally engaged in cyberstalking or know of someone who has? Do you notice cyberstalking as a trend on college campuses?
     
    Useful Resources:
     
     
     
     
     
    Photo by olalindberg 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:
     
     
     
  •  Boys Will Be Boys

    Monday, Nov. 12, 2012

     The best college student comment on "Boys Will Be Boys" wins a $100 Amazon gift certificate. Entries must be received by midnight, November 25th. 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.

     

    Julia and Ricky have been dating for about a year now, and are completely committed to one another. All of their friends feel that they have a strong relationship with a solid foundation.
     
    Despite this, however, Julia has been noticing a pattern that concerns her. Ricky regularly watches pornography, which she really doesn’t like. After ignoring it for a while, Julia mentions that it bothers her, and makes her feel like Ricky is cheating on her.
     
    Ricky apologizes, but explains that it’s solely for “release,” and means absolutely nothing beyond that. Julia feels that pornography objectifies women in a way that undermines their relationship, and her self-esteem also suffers a hit when she thinks about the images that go across her boyfriend’s screen. Her best friend tells her not to worry because “boys will be boys,” and Julia reluctantly acknowledges that she knows that many college guys do this. She thinks that she may be blowing things out of proportion, but she can’t shake the feeling of betrayal.
     
    Is Julia overreacting, or should Ricky change his habits to honor the relationship? Do the moral implications change whether or not Ricky and Julia are sexually active?
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    Photo by fb available under a Creative Commons License on Flickr. 
     

  •  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.