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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?
  •  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.
  •  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.

     

  •  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.

     

  •  Selfies

    Monday, Sep. 30, 2013

    The best student comment on "Selfies" wins a $100 Amazon gift certificate. Entries must be received by midnight, Sunday, October 13th, 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.**

    Stacy is a sophomore in college who is addicted to Instagram. She regularly posts multiple photos a day showing her followers what she is up to. Stacy views Instagram as a way to stay connected with her friends. While many of these Instagram photos incorporate amazing sights or delicious-looking baked goods, she also posts a lot of selfies. One day Stacy posts a photo of herself by the pool in her new string bikini. Another day, she takes a picture of herself in a sexy camisole getting ready for bed.

    These photos start to attract a lot of attention from her college peers. On her way to class one day she hears two guys she has never met talking about her as she walks by. She even sees one of her peers looking at one of her Instagram selfies on his phone in class.  

    Stacy’s best friend, Andrea, confronts her about posting these photos. She claims that showing this kind of photo on social media is not only dangerous but also can make guys think of Stacy as a skank. Stacy says she is simply expressing herself through these selfies, and that if people don’t want to see these photos, then they can stop following her on Instagram.

    Is Andrea right to be worried about Stacy? If guys take Stacy’s photos the wrong way, is that her responsibility? What if a man posted a photo of himself shirtless or in a bathing suit? Would that be a problem? If so, why is there a difference in the way we view photos put up by men and women?

    Useful Resources:

    A Framework for Ethical Decision-Making

    Video: It's Your Fault

    Opinion from a Young Teenage Girl

     

    Photo by Paige Worthy available 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.
  •  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.