Markkula Center of Applied Ethics

Ethics Cases

Ethics Cases for Students

Student Loan: Unpaid Internships
Peggy Connolly, Ruth Ann Althaus, Robert Boyd Skip
Focus: Internships that offer neither pay nor credit may be unfair to students.

Peggy Connolly, Ruth Ann Althaus,Robert Boyd Skipp
Focus: How far should schools go to protect the rights of transgendered students?

Waitlists and VIPs
Kori Lennon
Focus: Can you extend the benefits of your student government position to your friends? When does it go too far?

Lean on Me
Akshay Vyas
Focus: How do you deal with a close friend who has turned into a mooch?

You Don't Say That
Akshay Vyas
Focus: Does the unconscious use of derogatory terms contribute to harmful stereotypes or does everyone understand that they don?t really mean anything?

Charitable Acts
Akshay Vyas
Focus: Are Greek life philanthropy weeks charitable and ethical, or just an excuse for rich college students to drink?

Akshay Vyas
Focus: Lawson is faced with a tough decision when nominated to partake in a social media drinking game.

Lying to be Nice
Akshay Vyas
Focus: Mark goes on a date with Laura, to find not much in common. He lies when she asks if he'll call her back. Is lying acceptable when its purpose is to be nice?

Spreading Wings
Akshay Vyas
Focus: Lucy struggles to spread her wings as she gets a job on the other side of the country from her family, in a case about career opportunity versus family responsibility.

Shot on the Job Hunt
Akshay Vyas
Focus: Is it ethical to apply to the same job as your roommate or good friend?

Off the Hook-Up Culture
Akshay Vyas
Focus: 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?

Go Greek or Go Home
Akshay Vyas
Focus: 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?

Academic Performance Enhancement
Akshay Vyas
Focus: Is cheating black and white? Or does it vary in degree of severity? Frank and Bobby find themselves at odds when one decides to bring a cheat sheet to a test and the other uses adderall as a study drug.

Browsing or Cyberstalking?
Akshay Vyas
Focus: Many college students use social media to stay connected with old friends. But when do they cross the line into cyberstalking?

This Town is Big Enough for the Both of Us
Akshay Vyas
Focus: College students and their non-affiliated neighbors have always had trouble getting along. Can students and their neighbors coexist peacefully? How?

Emails Exposed
Akshay Vyas
Focus: Universities reserve the right to monitor your email for campus safety. When does this monitoring cross the line into invasion of privacy?

Akshay Vyas
Focus: Scandalous photos are posted on Instagram everyday. Who should be responsible for how these images are perceived, the owner or the viewer?

Outside the Fold
Ethics Center
Focus: Alexa's parents are against interracial dating. What should she do when her white boyfriend wants to meet her Asian parents.

To Snitch or Not To Snitch
Akshay Vyas
Focus: What do you do when you have a conflict with your dorm roommate?

Crusading at the Dinner Table
Ethics Center
Focus: Grace has trouble deciding whether or not to express her views at the dinner table in her school cafeteria.

An Offhand Remark
Akshay Vyas
Focus: A student must decide what to do when a friend makes a racist comment.

Whose Life Is it Anyway?
Akshay Vyas
Focus: Robert has become an accounting major to please his parents, but his grades are suffering, and he really wants to be a filmmaker.

Homework or Teamwork?
Big Q Ethics
Focus: When Kim's dream of playing collegiate soccer becomes reality, she soon must weigh her athletic pursuit against her academic one.

Home Sweet Home
Akshay Vyas
Focus: A student comes home for summer break and chafes against rules she did not have to follow while she was on campus in this case study from The Big Q.

One Fish, Two Fish
Niki Petroff
Focus: Two college students debate the ethics of water usage in dorm buildings.

Chloe Wilson
Focus: Beth and Katie, two friends, go out to lunch. During their get-together, they are constantly interrupted by each other's social media use.

A Tale of Two Cheaters
Chloe Wilson
Focus: Two college students at the same school face very different consequences for plagiarizing. Is this fair?

Time is of the Essence
Chloe Wilson
Focus: Stephanie, a college student, must make a difficult decision about whether or not to be honest with a future employer in order to be hired.

Can You Keep a Secret?
Chloe Wilson
Focus: Scott, an SCU student, discovers an entry about him on a Facebook "confessions" page. He tries to decide if sites like this are funny or simply hurtful.

Picking Up the Slack
Chloe Wilson
Focus: Greg, a college senior, struggles to decide whether or not he should give an apathetic groupmate an honest evaluation.

Forgive and Forget
Chloe Wilson
Focus: Two college students could be deeply affected by the passing of a new student loan forgiveness act, the FSSA.

Caught in the Middle
Chloe Wilson
Focus: Ben sees his friend, Tyler, cheating on his girlfriend. He feels caught in the middle.. What should he do?

Sister, Can You Spare a Dime?
Miriam Schulman
Focus: College students struggle with a decision about how to help a man who is homeless.

It Would Be an Honor
Chloe Wilson
Focus: Does your school have an Honor Code? Do you think it works? Why or why not?

Boys Will Be Boys
Chloe Wilson
Focus: A college student in a relationship is challenged by her significant other's use of pornography.

Members Only
Chloe Wilson
Focus: Two students at UC Hastings disagree about the school's basis for club funding. Based on the Supreme Court case "Christian Legal Society v. Martinez."

Rock the Vote
Chloe Wilson
Focus: A college student tries to decide if one moral issue is enough to prevent her from voting for a political candidate.

The Pre-Game
Miriam Schulman
Focus: Two college students, Ari and Daniel, face difficult decisions about what to do on a night out. An interactive video illustrates the possible outcomes!

Chloe Wilson
Focus: A college freshman, Derek, tries to figure out how to deal with a clingy roommate.

Rushing Into Things
Chloe Wilson
Focus: Katie, a college freshman, decides whether or not to rush for a sorority.

Passion or Practicality?
Chloe Wilson
Focus: Mark must decide whether to please his parents and be relieved of his tuition costs or follow his passions and accrue substantial debt.

Petty Theft
Chloe Wilson
Focus: A college student sees her best friend stealing from her roommate, and is forced to make a difficult decision.

Once a Cheater...
Jake Teeny
Focus: An undergrad has to decide if he can still trust his friend when he sees the friend cheating in class.

Cheat Sheet
Jake Teeny
Focus: Shelby must decide whether to report to her professor that one of her friends was cheating on a curved exam.

Tyler Clementi Case - What Punishment Is Justifiable?
Jake Teeny
Focus: Dharun Ravi has been convicted of invasion of privacy, bias intimidation, witness tampering, and hindering arrest. What should be his punishment?

Protesting Commencement
Jacob Teeny
Focus: A student contemplates the most ethical way to register objections to the University's choice of commencement speaker.

The Dream Act
Ethics Center Media
Focus: Should those who reside in the U.S. illegally still be allowed to attain a U.S. education and what constitutes this eligibility?

Paying For College ? Who Should Take Responsibility?
Jake Teeny
Focus: Should a college student's parents be burdened with paying expensive college tuition?

A Good Sport? Do College Athletics Build Character
Jake Teeny
Focus: Nathan seems to have different values on and off the basketball court in this case study.

Making the Grade
Miriam Schulman
Focus: Should Alejandro take an easy A or a challenging course in his major?

Resume Inflation
Jake Teeny
Focus: Should a graduating senior stretch the truth on her resume?

Down So Long: Helping a Friend With Depression
Jake Teeny
Focus: Megan struggles to deal with her friend and college roommate's depression.

Pay Attention: Using Study Drugs
Jake Teeny
Focus: Offered some Adderall by a friend with a prescription, a freshman weighs whether using study drugs is the right thing to do.

Sleeping Around
Jake Teeny
Focus: A case examining the ethics of casual sex

The First Report
Kirk O. Hanson
Focus: A college president must decide how to respond to a report of a faculty member's sexual misconduct

The Value of Giving
Jake Teeny
Focus: After all her Christmas gifts are purchased, Jessica wonders whether to get something for herself or give the rest of her money to charity.

A Recycling Dilemma
Callie Tepper, Jared Pizzo, Andrw Kells, Kyle Dand
Focus: Steve and his housemates have thrown a big party. When he gets up the next morning, he finds that his friends have bagged up all the trash without recycling. What should he do?

Jacob Teeny
Focus: Mary's boyfriend asks her to text him a nude photo of herself. Is there anything wrong with that?

Should College Athletes Be Paid? (Case Study)
Jacob Teeny
Focus: Jordan, who plays football for a big university, is having trouble making ends meet. Should he be compensated for the revenue he helps generate for his university?

The Drinking Age
Jake Teeny
Focus: David, a freshman, is re-evaluating his previous decision not to drink until he turns 21.

Let Me See Your Grades
Rebecca Bivona-Gutadauro
Focus: Juliana's parents expect her to show them her grades in college. Isn't it time for them to treat her as an adult?

Oh, the Cleaners Will Get That
Rebecca Bivona-Guttadauro
Focus: Whose responsibility is it to keep college common areas clean--the students who use them or the custodial staff?

The Dealer in the Next Room
Rebecca Bivona-Guttadauro
Focus: A student must decide what to do when he realizes his roommate is dealing drugs from their apartment.

I Want to Remain a Virgin
Rebecca Bivona-Guttadauro
Focus: Katherine's boyfriend Max wants to express their growing love for each other sexually. Katherine has valued her virginity. What should she do?

Facebook Gossip or Cyberbullying
Miriam Schulman
Focus: When Paige expresses her annoyance at her roommate in her Facebook status, is she cyberbullying?

Living Situation
Rebecca Bivona-Guttadauro
Focus: Should Mo decide to live in an ethnically grouped dorm building?

Dangerous Curves: A Case on Cheating
Rebecca Bivona-Guttadauro
Focus: Francesca sees friends cheating on a test, where the grades will be curved. Should she tell?

Rebecca Bivona-Guttadauro
Focus: A look at the ethical questions in rushing a fraternity

Should I Call the EMTs?
Rebecca Bivona-Guttadauro
Focus: A student must decide whether to call for help when a friend passes out from drinking.

Major Decision
Rebecca Bivona-Guttadauro
Focus: Do parents have the right to decide on their child's college major?

Rebecca Bivona-Guttadauro
Focus: Freshmen Brad and Wilson have to work out a fair way to share their room.

Rebecca Bivona-Guttadauro
Focus: A pre-law student tries to balance his academic and social life.

The Slowdown Hits Home
Rebecca Bivona Guttadauro
Focus: When her family's financial situation changes, Kayla must decide whether to go to her first-choice, expensive college and allow her parents to dip into their retirement.

Student Debt and the Importance of College: An Ethics Case
Meghan Skarzynski
Focus: A student reflects on whether taking out a tuition loan is responsible

World of Warren
Miriam Schulman
Focus: Warren is so involved in WoW that he rarely leaves his computer except to go to class. Is there anything ethically wrong with what he's doing?

Job Search Dilemma
Rebecca Bivona-Guttadauro
Focus: A job applicant is offered a job that is not his first choice. Should he take it and continue looking?

I Can't Get a C
Miriam Schulman
Focus: A pre-med student considers copying the homework in Art History.

Group Project
Miriam Schulman
Focus: One member of a group project team is failing to carry her weight. What is the fair way to deal with members who don't do their fair share?

Not Hungry
Rebecca Bivona-Guttadauro
Focus: A college student must decide what to do when her roommate shows signs of having anorexia.

Theme Party

Focus: A "Fresh off the Boat" party pokes fun at Asians.

Friends With Benefits
Rebecca Bivona-Guttadauro
Focus: When alcohol and sex mix, two students wake up angry. Who is responsible?

Poster Wars: When Is Speech Offensive?
Rebecca Bivona-Guttadauro
Focus: Dorm floormates come into conflict over a political poster.

Student Choices: My Homework or Our Homework
Rebecca Fox-Bivona
Focus: When does collaboration become cheating?

Student Choices: What Will Sex Mean?
Rebecca Fox-Bivona
Focus: Katherine wants to remain a virgin.

The Duties of Friendship
Rebecca Fox-Bivona
Focus: A student must decide whether to call the EMTs when her friend passes out after drinking

Finals Week: What to do about stimulants?
Rebecca Fox-Bivona
Focus: A case exploring whether taking drugs like Adderall to improve cognitive performance is simply a form of enhancement or a form of cheating.

When Do I Friend?
Noelle Lopez
Focus: Do the same rules apply to Facebook friends and "real-world" friends?

A Student Scenario
Focus: Molly has just been accepted at Stanford University and calls her friend Terri to tell her the good news. Terri assumes that Molly was accepted because of her race.

Between a Rock and a Hard Place
Thomas Shanks
Focus: What are the ethical questions involved when an innocent prank turns into academic cheating?

Student Scenario
Focus: A student buys a paper from an Internet site.

Student Scenario
Focus: A student discussion of prejudice and homosexuality.

Date Rape
A Student Scenario
Focus: Some students are at a party, drinking and watching movies. One of the students finds herself being taken advantage of.

A Student Scenario
Focus: Students debate a revenge act of vandalism.