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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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  •  Charitable Acts

    Wednesday, Apr. 2, 2014

    The first 20 student comments on “Charitable Acts” 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, April 13th, 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.**

    Paula is a freshman at a large university in southern California. She is involved with a sorority, Alpha Alpha, on her campus. Paula rushed Alpha Alpha because she heard that it was heavily involved in philanthropy. In fact, Alpha Alpha hosts an annual philanthropy week donating money to a charity that raises money for cancer research.

    Paula is excited to take part in the weeklong activities because philanthropy and service have always been an important part of her life. She wants to find out more about the charity, and is thrilled that other college students will also be finding out more about cancer research and what they can individually do to help fight cancer.

    When the week approaches, Paula is surprised at the activities that will take place. She notices that not once in the week’s activities does it mention cancer research. Teams simply sign-up and have each member pay $15 to partake in the activities. Paula notices that the activities are simply attending a dinner at a local restaurant, performing a two-minute dance on stage, a karaoke tournament, a fashion show, and a scavenger hunt.

    Paula thinks the week is a lame excuse of a philanthropic effort. She hears from her older sorority sisters that teams just pay the fee and never hear about the charity again. Teams allegedly just participate to get drunk and attempt to win the activities for bragging rights. Paula is disappointed to be a part of such a philanthropy week.

    Are philanthropy weeks, like the one Paula’s sorority puts on, ethical? Do participants actually get an idea where their money is going? How can philanthropy weeks better incorporate education about the cause they are donating to? What about charity balls that older individuals take part in? Oftentimes individuals pay a large sum of money per plate at these charity events, but don’t learn much about the charity and just attend to boost their social status. Is there a difference between the way they are run and these college philanthropy weeks?

    Useful Resources:

    A Framework for Ethical Decision-Making

    Photo by Ahoova available under a Creative Commons license.

     

  •  Lying to be Nice

    Monday, Mar. 3, 2014

    The first 20 student comments on “Lying to be Nice” 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 16th, 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.**

    Mark is an upper classman college student at a large university. He is a double major in Psychology and Political Science, is involved with on-campus Associated Student Government, and works two jobs in order to pay for college and essentials like food.

    Mark is very focused on his education and career growth at this stage in his life and in the rare free moments he has, he enjoys spending time with his housemates who are his best friends. He isn’t against dating, but he knows that relationships take time and money and is not sure he has the availability or funds for a girlfriend. That being said, he has told his roommates several times that if he finds the right girl, he will make time for her and will budget his earnings accordingly.

    Joe, Mark’s roommate, has been trying to set up his friend with a girl for a long time. Joe is under the impression that Mark needs someone to help him enjoy the moment and not just focus on the future. Joe sets Mark up with his girlfriend’s best friend, Laura. He tells Mark to just go to coffee with the girl and see if they mesh. Mark agrees to go to coffee with Laura.

    At coffee, Mark struggles to find anything in common with Laura. He thinks she is a nice girl, but he also doesn’t feel that she is someone he wants to date. Her interests and hobbies are very different from Mark, and it even seems like her values are different at times during his talk. Mark enjoys the conversation with her, but he decides he doesn’t want to pursue anything after the coffee.

    When leaving the coffee shop, Laura tells Mark she had a good time and would like to get to know him even better. She gives Mark her phone number and asks him if he will call her later. Mark knows he isn’t going to call Laura. He has no interest pursuing her for a relationship and is already so strapped for time. However, he tells her he will call her because he thinks it is better to be nice than to tell her the truth.

    Did Mark do the right thing? Was lying to Laura that he’d call her the nice thing to do? Is it just to withhold the truth from someone, even if you think it’s for his or her betterment?

    Useful Resources:

    A Framework for Ethical Decision-Making

    Truth in Thomas Aquinas

    Is Lying Ever Right?

    Lying and Truth-Telling

    Photo by Kris Krug available under a Creative Commons license.

     

  •  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.

     

  •  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.

  •  One Fish, Two Fish

    Monday, Jun. 3, 2013
    The best student comment on "One Fish, Two Fish" wins a $100 Amazon gift certificate. Entries must be received by midnight, Sunday, June 16th, 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.**
     
    College freshmen Josh and David live together in an on-campus dorm. They share a communal bathroom with two other students. Halfway through the school year, Josh begins to notice that David takes unusually long showers. With each passing week, David’s showers have increased to 45 minutes each and every day.
    Josh knows that running water ultimately goes down the drain and into the sewers. Of course, everyone just assumes there will be more available the next day. However, Josh realizes that David is consuming huge amounts of water as well as enormous amounts of energy.
     
    Bothered by David’s actions, Josh talks to David and calmly points out that his water and energy consumption is not good for the environment, as well as being extremely expensive. David, however, doesn’t see it that way and replies with, “Whatever. I just pay for room and board. I don’t pay for the utilities. That shouldn’t be my problem.”
     
    This is a common problem among college students living in dorms. Since the bills don’t go directly to students, it is easy for them to lose track of how much they are actually using and assume that water and energy are unlimited resources. If David actually saw how much water he was using and paid the bill himself, he might think differently and be inclined to reduce his water consumption.  But because he pays only a flat rate for room and board, he feels it is not his concern and that he can use as much energy as he likes without a second thought.
     
    How can a university encourage students like David to be more environmentally conscious of their water consumption when students do not pay for utilities directly? How can students hold each other accountable for being responsible about their individual water and energy consumption? What incentives could there be for students to care about how much water and energy they use other than the fact that it can cost more money?
     
    Useful Links:
     
     
     
     
     
    Photo available under a Creative Commons License on Flickr from Joost Nelissen.