Santa Clara University

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At the Center

Capturing the lively discussions, presentations, and other events that make up the daily activities of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University.

The following postings have been filtered by category Campus Ethics. clear filter
  •  Yiftee Sponsors The Big Q

    Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014 1:01 PM

    Starting this month, Bay Area startup Yiftee is promoting a dialogue about some of the tough ethical dilemmas facing undergraduates. The company will offer Yiftees—gifts redeemable at local merchants—for the first 20 students who comment on The Big Q, a biweekly, online conversation about ethical issues, sponsored by the Ethics Center.

    Yiftee co-founder Lori Laub, explains, “Yiftee is the easy and instant way to send thoughtful gifts at local shops and restaurants. We think ethics are so important we want to encourage more students to participate in this leading edge program and are proud to sponsor it. With Yiftee gifts we can provide a fun incentive for the students and support local businesses in one fell swoop.”

    If you think it’s easy being a college student, consider a few of the ethical issues the average undergraduate is confronting today:

    • Is the nonprescription use of cognitive enhancements such as Adderall the same as carrying a cheat sheet into a test?
    • Is it cyberstalking to monitor your “ex” on Facebook?
    • Should you pledge a fraternity that hazes its members?

    The Big Q, which launched in 2011, has had more than 200,000 pageviews, and comments from students from around the country, from Santa Clara to Columbia, from Berkeley to Maine College of the Arts. Ethics Center Assistant Director Miriam Schulman described the idea behind The Big Q and the partnership with Yiftee: “We asked ourselves, how can we get students to reflect on the very real ethical quandaries we know they face? Why not go where students are already engaged in conversation—the Internet?”

    The Big Q includes a blog, Facebook , Twitter , and YouTube playlist. “Since we’re an online project, Yiftee gifts, which are sent by smartphone or Web, seemed like a natural incentive for our participants,” Schulman said. “We’re so grateful to Yiftee for sponsoring this important conversation.”

    Yiftee gifts are the new way to acknowledge life’s special moments, in two minutes or less. Giftees instantly receive their Yiftee digital MasterCard vouchers on Facebook, email or text and stop by a local merchant to pick up their gift. Yiftee is social, local and mobile and a WIN-WIN-WIN for the business, gift giver and gift recipient. Available at and via free iPhone and Android app.

  •  WhoseLife Is it Anyway?

    Wednesday, Jul. 24, 2013 4:11 PM

     Should parents dictate what their children major in during their college years?  In the latest case study from the Center's Big Q project, an online dialog for undergraduates, a sophomore finally gets up the courage to tell his parents that he isn't interested in accounting.

  •  Homework or Teamwork

    Monday, Jul. 8, 2013 3:10 PM

    How should a student balance the demands of team sports and academics?  That's the current dilemma on the Big Q, the Center's online dialog about everyday ethical issues for undergrads.  The best student response wins a $100 Amazon gift certificate. 

  •  Athletics in College Admissions

    Tuesday, May. 21, 2013 3:00 PM

     Is it ethical for a college to accept a football player with much poorer grades than his classmate?  The latest case on the Center's Big Q blog deals with a form of affirmative action that has nothing to do with race.  

    The case was written by SCU student Samantha Mazza as part of a class on "Sports and Communication."  The Big Q is an online dialog for undergraduates from colleges and universities across the country exploring the everyday ethical issues confronting college students.

  •  White Lying to a Hiring Manager

    Friday, Apr. 12, 2013 1:00 PM

     A college junior must decide whether to tell a hiring manager that she is only available to work until September when she knows that the company is looking for a longer term hire.  This case study is the latest in the Center's Big Q project, an online dialog on everyday ethical issues for undergraduates.

  •  College Confessions

    Thursday, Apr. 4, 2013 4:51 PM

     The big question on The Big Q this week: What do you think of college confessions sites?  Websites where undergrads share secrets--theirs and others'--have proliferated recently, and the Ethics Center's Big Q project on everyday ethical dilemmas for undergraduates offer's a brief case study encouraging students to talk about their reaction to this phenomenon.   Best comment by an undergrad wins a $100 Amazon gift certificate.



  •  Picking Up the Slack

    Thursday, Mar. 14, 2013 1:00 PM

     Group projects present a classic ethical dilemma for college students, when one member of the team does not pull his or her weight.  In this case from The Big Q, a senior is asked to evaluate the work of a Friend whose contributions are either sloppy or unfinished.

    The Big Q is an online dialog on everyday ethical issues for undergraduates.  The best student comment on the case wins a $100 Amazon gift certificate.

  •  Do Honor Codes Work?

    Friday, Mar. 8, 2013 2:41 PM
    Gary Pavela, director of academic integrity at Syracuse University, had a simple answer to the question, Do honor codes promote greater academic integrity on college campuses.  Yes.
    At a talk today sponsored by the Ethics Center, Pavela shared his experiences developing the first "modified honor code" at the University of Maryland in 1991.  As background, Pavela described traditional honor codes at schools like the University of Virginia and the service academies, where the punishment for any violation is expulsion.  Students must sign an honor pledge, and they are obligated to report their classmates if they see cheating.
    According to Pavela, traditional codes have a clear affect on cheating, even though "the PR is sometimes better than the reality."  For example, honor courts at traditional honor code schools may be reluctant to convict students who are referred to them because they have only one choice of sanction--expulsion.  Also, he reported, "students don't turn each other in."
    Pavela and the group of students he worked with at Maryland wondered if they could get the same effect by adopting the elements of traditional codes that actually worked.  The Maryland code included:
    §     Student leadership
    §     Serious penalties but not automatic expulsion
    §     Education
    These elements work together in a modified code.  For example, if a student is caught cheating, he or she receives an XF in the class.  This grade is coded on the transcript, "failure due to academic dishonesty."  The student cannot change the F grade, but he or she can get the X removed by taking an academic integrity seminar.
    The modified code developed at Maryland and later adopted at many other schools does have an impact on the ethical culture of the school, Pavela said.  He cited the work of Donald McCabe, who has been studying academic integrity since 1990.  McCabe found there was less cheating at modified honor code schools than at schools with no code at all, although there was more cheating than at traditional honor code schools.
    Pavela stressed that honor codes can be a source of pride for students, and that schools that adopt them begin to see results in two to three years.

    Pavela's talk was part of a multi-year effort at Santa Clara University to develop an honor code system. 

  •  Honor Codes

    Tuesday, Mar. 5, 2013 1:17 PM

    Gary Pavela, director of academic integrity at Syracuse University, speaks March 8 at noon in the Weigand Center, Santa Clara University, on honor codes.  

    Since last year, SCU students have been engaged in a dialog, which they hope will result in the adoption of a code at Santa Clara.  Ethics Center Hackworth Fellow Aven Satre-Meloy has spearheaded the effort this year.  

    Pavela will be speaking about how SCU can adopt an honor code; what kind of code may make the most sense to adopt; and how to address such concerns related to honor codes like the academic freedom of faculty; faculty worries about time spent involved in cumbersome disciplinary procedures; and faculty worries over reporting requirements.

  •  Caught in the Middle

    Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013 10:00 AM

     A student must decide whether to tell his friend's girlfriend that he's cheating on her in the most recent case study on everyday ethical dilemmas confronted by college students.  

    The case is part of The Big Q, an online dialog on typical ethical issues facing undergraduates.  Students from more than 100 different universities follow The Big Q.