Santa Clara University


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.

  •  A Tale of Two Cheaters

    Wednesday, Apr. 24, 2013
    The best student comment on "A Tale of Two Cheaters" wins a $100 Amazon gift certificate. Entries must be received by midnight, Sunday, May 5th, 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.**
    Rebecca is a freshman this year, and the transition from high school to college has been pretty academically difficult for her. She has always been an excellent student, however, so she takes the challenge in stride.
    After turning in a final paper for one of her English classes, Rebecca receives an e-mail from her professor informing her that she has failed the class. Rebecca can’t believe it—perhaps she put less effort into this paper than her others, but she certainly didn’t produce F-quality work! She immediately responds and asks why. Her professor informs Rebecca that she had included a paragraph in her paper that was copied and pasted verbatim from an online source, and that Rebecca had failed to provide a citation. The professor then refers Rebecca to the section on academic integrity in the course syllabus, which clearly states that any student found plagiarizing will fail the course.
    At the same university that week, Nick wraps up his first round of sophomore year exams. He’s thrilled to be heading home for break after an extremely tough quarter, and is pretty happy with his grades as they begin showing up online. However, he notices he received a C in a class that he was expecting a solid A in, and e-mails his professor to ask why. His professor responds that she found several instances of plagiarism in his final paper, so he failed his final assignment, and that affected his final grade. She also notes that this is consistent with her policy on academic integrity as stated in her syllabus.
    Ultimately, for similar acts of plagiarism at the same school, Rebecca and Nick suffer very different consequences. Rebecca fails a course, while Nick fails a final paper. Is this fair?  Should schools force faculty to have the same policy about plagiarism across the board, or should it be up to the faculty’s discretion?  What would be a fair punishment?
    Useful Resources


  •  Time is of the Essence

    Monday, Apr. 8, 2013
    The best student comment on "Time is of the Essence" wins a $100 Amazon gift certificate. Entries must be received by midnight, Sunday, April 21st, 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.**
    Stephanie is wrapping up her junior year of college and beginning her search for a summer job. Stephanie has great grades, previous work experience, and considers herself to be charismatic and articulate in interviews. On paper and in person, she would be a great employee!
    However, there’s one big problem. Stephanie does not go to school in her home state, and since summer break only lasts three months, she (like many other out-of-state college students) needs to find an employer who will hire her despite the fact that she will be returning to school in the fall.
    After months of searching, Stephanie finds a dream job working as an Outreach Intern for a local non-profit, applies, and is asked to interview. The interview goes extremely well, and Stephanie is hired on the spot! As she is considering the offer, she notices that the organization uncompromisingly requires interns to work for a minimum of 6 months. She knows that she will be leaving the state to go back to school in the fall, so she either has to settle for a minimum-wage job that won’t build her resume (something that will be crucial when she graduates in a years’ time), or she has to lie by omission to this employer.
     In this job market, Stephanie’s find is rare and a perfect jumping off point for her future career. Her parents tell her that this is too good of an opportunity to pass up, and that a little white lie will do more good than harm. Stephanie is inclined to agree as she sees her classmates struggling to find work, and she rationalizes that as soon as she has to leave, an equally deserving candidate could be hired to fill her place.
    What should Stephanie do? Should she turn down the offer that she worked so hard to get and clearly deserves, but remain fully honest in doing so? Or, should she imply that she can work for the required 6 months, but simply tell her boss that she is quitting when she has to go back to school?
    Useful Resources
  •  Can You Keep a Secret?

    Monday, Mar. 25, 2013
    The best student comment on "Can You Keep a Secret?" wins a $100 Amazon gift certificate. Entries must be received by midnight, Sunday, April 7, 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.**

    Scott couldn’t believe his eyes when he checked Facebook this morning. A new page, “SCU Confessions,” had just been created, and one of the first “confessions” was about him! Someone shared a story where he had gotten really drunk last week and did a few things he wasn’t proud of. Granted, he wasn’t mentioned by name, but it was a unique enough situation that everyone he knew would recognize it as being about him.

    Scott had heard about other schools starting pages like this, where people message the page administrator their secrets, hook-up stories, dirty deeds, and anything else that they would want to share anonymously. Scott initially thought these pages were hilarious, and even “liked” the ones from other schools just so that he could be entertained. However, now that he was reading something about him, he felt embarrassed and upset. Already it had 50 “likes” and counting, and several of his friends tagged him in the comments so that he would see it. To make matters worse, the post was anonymous, so he had no way of knowing who was spreading the story around.

    Scott’s friends told him to laugh it off; it wasn’t that big of a deal. Even he had to admit that the story was objectively pretty funny, and most of the other posts on the page were relatively harmless as well. On the other hand, he could envision how people would take advantage of the anonymity and could potentially cause somebody real harm.

    What do you think about Facebook college “Confessions” or “Hook-Up” pages? Do you feel like this type of anonymous sharing can be hurtful and even dangerous, or do you think it’s a harmless way to tell funny stories? Have you ever submitted anything to a page like this, or been mentioned in a post?


  •  Picking Up the Slack

    Monday, Mar. 11, 2013
    The best student comment on "Picking Up the Slack" wins a $100 Amazon gift certificate. Entries must be received by midnight, Sunday, March 24, 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.**
    Greg and Natalie have been in business classes together since freshman year. While they’re not close friends, they have always enjoyed each other’s company in class and have been in the same social circle as they’ve moved from lower division courses to where they are now: senior capstone. Greg and a few of his friends invite Natalie to join their group at the start of the term, and they begin to work on their project.
    Fairly quickly, though, Greg realizes that Natalie isn’t pulling her weight. Any aspect of the project that’s assigned to her has to be redone by other members of the group, she doesn’t pay attention in meetings, and she consistently shows up late or hung over. Greg and his other groupmates think that Natalie needs to step it up and take this project seriously, but they ultimately agree it would be more trouble than it’s worth to confront her about it. They decide to just push through and let her do her own thing. Natalie continues to participate marginally in discussions, planning, and writing, but makes it clear through her actions that their final presentation is not her biggest priority. 
    After Greg’s group gives its final presentation, the members are asked to write an evaluation on their teammates that the professor will use to determine individual grades. When it comes to most of his teammates, Greg easily gives them all A’s and B’s for their participation and contributions to the project. However, when Greg comes to Natalie’s evaluation, he is faced with a dilemma.  It’s their last big project before graduation, and if he were to evaluate her in a harsh way, it could negatively affect her cumulative GPA. He doesn’t want to throw her under the bus; however, her apathy and poor work ethic put a huge burden on everyone else’s shoulders, and Greg had to personally sacrifice a lot of time and effort to make up for her mistakes or tasks that she left undone.
    Is it worth giving her an honest evaluation, just so the professor will give her the grade she deserves? Or is giving her a bad evaluation petty and unnecessary, considering that they are all about to graduate and their group received an A, regardless of her performance?
    Useful Resources
  •  Hackworth Fellow: Patrick Coutermarsh

    Friday, Mar. 1, 2013

    Patrick is a senior at SCU working toward a double degree in Economics and Philosophy. He is currently a Hackworth Fellow at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, founded and captained SCU's first Ethics Bowl team, and writes for the Center's new blog "Business Ethics in the News." Outside of school, Patrick competes in triathlons and martial arts competitions.   

  •  Student Intern: Chloe Wilson

    Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013

    Chloe is a Seattle-area native and a senior at Santa Clara University, with a major in Sociology and a minor in Music. She currently works as one of the Big Q social media interns, and writes the posts for the blog. Chloe is also a part of the University Honors Program, a member of SCU's first Ethics Bowl team, former CMO of Kappa Alpha Theta, co-President of SCU A Cappella, co-leader of Supertonic!, a worship leader at her church, and the Campus Relations Coordinator for Core Christian Fellowship. Chloe will be graduating early in March, and is currently deciding where her post-college path will take her!


  •  Student Intern: Alex LeeNatali

    Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013

    Alex is a senior Law and Social Justice/Psychology double major at Santa Clara University. She currently works as one of the Big Q social media interns and will be graduating at the end of March. Currently, Alex is also the public relations coordinator for the Multicultural Center, the New Orleans Spring break immersion coordinator, a Discover/Magis retreat leader, and a campus ministry intern. In June, she will begin working as a teacher for Teach for America in San Jose. 

  •  Contributing Writer: Anthony Gill

    Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013

     Anthony is currently a freshman at Santa Clara University, originally from Spokane, Washington.He is undeclared in the College of Arts & Sciences. He is involved with Into the Wild, our outdoors club; Christian Life Community, an organization through Campus Ministry; and event and activity planning for Unity RLC. In the fall, Anthony and a few friends worked to start SCU Snapshot, a photography club for beginners through experts.

  •  Contributing Writer: Kaitlin Fuelling

    Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013

    Kaitlin is a senior at Santa Clara University. She is planning to graduate this June with a major in marketing and a minor in communications.  She currently works in the Bronco Athletic Department, and is a member of the Triathlon Club and Kappa Alpha Theta sorority. 


  •  Contributing Writer: Mikaila Read

    Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013

     Mikaila Read is a junior at Eastern Washington University, where she is also the president of the university philosophy club, The Trascendental Apathetic. She self identifies as an, "old soul," and a "closet musician." In her spare time she enjoys reading, hiking, volunteering in her community, and songwriting/singing. Mikaila hopes to go onto graduate school and eventually become a professor of philosophy.