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1. Whose History?

Professor Eldon Turner at the University of Florida is the current chair of the
history department. He teaches the large survey course of American History to 1877, and
he takes a unique approach. Most students have been taught American History through
the eyes of the dominant group of American society, namely Anglo-Americans; Professor
Turner turns to a different group, namely Native Americans, in order to teach students
about a different perspective that is traditionally under-represented in history courses.
His texts include books that have numerous references to broken treaties and
atrocities committed by European settlers against Native Americans. They also recall
retaliation by Native Americans, but make certain to portray these actions, not as acts of
savage barbarians, but of rational people who felt rightfully enraged at their mistreatment.
The course material often serves to enlighten students about the fact that Europeans did
not “discover” America, but merely immigrated to a land already inhabited by several
distinct societies. Turner’s course sometimes shies away from the traditional content of
an American History course. Professor Turner does not strictly follow the actions of
General Washington and Ben Franklin, nor the lives of the framers of the Constitution.
The course sacrifices some coverage of the dominant paradigm of American History in
order more clearly to present the minority view.
Most students appreciate Professor Turner’s refreshing approach to an old and
worn-out subject. Many enjoy the texts as first and second-hand accounts of actual
events, rather than the third person summation of events long passed. But Turner might
also be accused of shirking his duty to the course title of “United States History to 1877.”
By teaching one perspective, the course might be better titled “Native American History
to 1877.” On the other hand, one could claim that all American History courses
necessarily must weed out certain issues and perspectives in order to limit the amount of
content covered.

Questions:
Assuming that Prof. Turner has a foreign student who is unfamiliar with American
History, has he violated this student’s right (to particular academic content)? Does
he have a responsibility to cover as many different perspectives as possible? Has he
attempted to fulfill this obligation by teaching the course as he has?

2. Urban Legend
There has long existed an urban legend concerning a group of students who
decide to party rather than study, and a professor who prepares a fitting lesson. The story
goes as follows:
Two students decide to go skiing for the weekend, and are having such a
good time they decide to blow off the Calculus exam that they have scheduled for
Monday morning in order to get some final runs in before they head back to
school. The professor has a policy of no retakes or rescheduling of exams except
in the case of emergencies. They decide to tell the professor that they got a flat
tire and therefore deserve to take the exam at a rescheduled time.
Hearing the story, said professor agrees that it really was just bad luck,
and of course they can take the exam later. At the appointed time, the professor
greets them and places them in two separate rooms to take the exam.
The few questions on the first page are worth a minor 10% of the overall grade,
and are quite easy. Each student grows progressively confident as they take the test, sure
that they have gotten away with fooling the professor. However, when they turn to the
second page, they discover that they really haven’t.
The only question on the page, worth 90% of the exam, reads: “Which
1
tire?”
Some question whether it would be fair for a professor to perform such a trick.
She has a responsibility to test her students on the subject matter of the course. She does,
however, have a right to ensure that they behave in an ethical manner, particularly with
regard to testing procedures. Most universities have honor codes against cheating or
other unethical behavior, and students must follow these policies in order to graduate.
Since these two students were granted additional time with which to study, they have
gained an unfair advantage over their classmates. Even if the additional time presented
them no advantage in terms of study time, they still willfully missed the exam, which
would have been grounds for a score of zero on the exam, had it not been for their
supposed “emergency.”

Questions:
Does the professor have a right/responsibility to call these students on their
falsified story? Is this testing method the proper means for her to do so? Do the students
have a right to be believed by their instructor (barring any previous suspect behavior)?
Do the students have a right to only be tested on the material covered in the course?

3. Sexual Harassment
Current sexual harassment law falls under the heading of discrimination, as
defined by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This law was enacted in order to
guarantee that African Americans would not be subject to unfair discrimination in
employment practices. In order to defeat this legislation, Representative Howard Smith
inserted language offering the same protection from discrimination to women, thinking
that it would be preposterous to guarantee women the same employment rights as men.
Much to Representative Howard Smith’s chagrin, Title VII passed.
Over the years, feminist philosophers took note of the protection of women under
Title VII, and helped to broaden interpretation of this law to govern a very particular type
of discrimination, namely, sexual harassment. Sexual harassment differs from direct
discrimination in that an employer need not say, “I will not hire you for this position
because you’re a woman,” but may simply make certain employment decisions based on
sex.
A particular case in point would be a manager who refuses to promote a woman
until she has sex with him. He has not refused the woman the promotion, but merely
placed a burden on women that would not exist for men. This would be a case of quid
pro quo (this for that) sexual harassment. The other type of recognized sexual
harassment is “hostile environment,” in which an agent of the company constantly makes
remarks, either sexual or derogatory in nature about members of one sex, so much so that
a reasonable person would find the workplace to be hostile.

1
From: http://urbanlegends.about.com/library/blflattire.htm
One unique problem arises for a still less recognized group. Homosexuals have a
much more difficult time pursuing cases of sexual harassment than heterosexuals. Some
courts have even refused to hear cases of same-sex sexual harassment. The current
standard demands that one of three criteria be met in order to pursue such cases. One
may prove that one sex is treated preferentially over another sex, that the harasser was
motivated by sexual desire (thus in a same-sex case, that he or she was a homosexual), or
that the harasser was motivated by a general hostility toward one sex. These criteria may
all be utilized in order to prove sexual harassment, however, there does seem to be a
missing link. Title VII does not include homosexuals as a defined protected group. One
could be unable to prove that his harasser was homosexual, that he had a general hostility
toward men, nor that he gave preferential treatment to women, and yet, the victim could
still have been subject to discrimination—based on his sexuality, though not on his sex.
Some contest including homosexuals as a group protected under the law. This
stems from the belief that their actions are immoral and therefore do not warrant
protection. Others, while unsure about the morality of homosexuality itself, still feel as
though sexuality should remain private and any outward presentation of sexual
preference could rightfully be discriminated against. A proliferation of “queer theory”
has emerged in response to these camps, however, and many proponents assert that
homosexuals deserve explicit protection, whether or not it has already been implicitly
granted by Title VII.

Questions:
Do homosexuals deserve protection based on their sexuality (regardless of whether
it is determined to be a matter of choice or genetics)? At what point (if any) should
the government cease involvement in employment decisions? Should sexual harassment
be classified as discrimination?

4. Terrorism Broadcasts
Terrorism poses a problem for the broadcast journalist. As a source of news for
hundreds, thousands, or even millions of people, the broadcast journalist serves as an
intermediary between individuals and the world. As such, he or she has the opportunity
to influence opinions, and ideally to offer people the news from as objective a viewpoint
as possible. For this reason, a good news broadcaster might decide to provide as much
information as possible to his or her viewers. In order for people to make informed
opinions about a terrorist attack, the potential threats that the attack might impose upon
them, etc., the news outlet might best serve the public by showing the attack, giving
advice as to how to respond to the attack, and giving information about the terrorist,
including the modus operandi and motivation of the terrorist.
We may learn to best understand terrorism through information, but mass media
may also have a more subtle responsibility to the public. Terrorists perpetrate acts of
violence in order to make a statement, to have their causes known. Mass media possess
the ability to grant or deny terrorists a platform for their message by deciding how to
cover the act and the terrorists’ message. This opens the question of how and whether
responsible journalists should report on terrorism.
In a vacuum, journalists might decide against reporting on terrorist activities, but
who could argue that journalists should have sat out 9/11? Besides, even if one news
organization decides that some details should not be reported, others will broadcast the
details regardless.
These problems existed for reporters even before the September 11, 2001 attacks,
but since have become of paramount importance. Government officials have requested
that the news media not broadcast interviews with or speeches by Osama bin Laden,
ostensibly since hidden messages might be encoded into his speech. In addition, some
researchers have expressed concern about post-traumatic stress for viewers or victims
resulting from repeated viewing of the disastrous events of September 11th. Others have
noted that broadcasting scenes of terrorist attacks, particularly live as was the case with
the World Trade Center bombings, may threaten to expose viewers to particularly
upsetting images, since there is often no delay between the occurrence and transmission.

Questions: Does a broadcaster have a responsibility to cater to people’s basic, arguably


voyeuristic, interest in human tragedy? Should the broadcaster use his or her moral
gauge to grant or deny information to the public? Should broadcast journalists provide
a broad and inclusive account of terrorist activity, including motivations of the
attackers?

5. Credit for Class


The early days of college can be very stressful to incoming freshman. Often these
students are faced with unfamiliar challenges, like paying for all of their own bills and
balancing school with newfound freedom. Amidst these challenges, some students think
they find a reprieve in the form of credit cards, which many companies are eager to give
them. Credit cards offer students who lack funds the ability to live a more comfortable
lifestyle, while generally only requesting a small minimum payment each month.
Freshmen (and more senior students, as well), may find that they rack up credit card
balances much faster than they expect, and eventually find themselves hopelessly in debt.
Several campuses, including the State University of New York (SUNY) and the
University of California at Santa Barbara, are restricting on-campus credit card recruiters.
Commonly, credit card companies will offer gifts, in the form of T-shirts, candy, or
knick-knacks, in order to draw students to their application tables. In California, the state
legislature has passed a bill that will require the Board of Regents and school
administrators to combat aggressive marketing tactics such as these gifts. The reason
cited for this decision is consumer protection. "Since the credit card companies prey on
people who are not aware of the consequences of incurring a debt with these cards,
students need to fully understand their rights and responsibilities," California governor
spokesman Roger Salazar said. These companies often charge high interest rates, around
22% APR, and students sometimes lack the economic wisdom to utilize credit cards
appropriately. The bill suggests that debt-education programs be required during
orientation to teach incoming freshmen about responsible spending.
In defense of credit card companies, building credit from an early age can be a
benefit to college graduates who may be interested in getting settled down to start a
career and build a family. Responsible use of credit cards can work to improve one’s
chances of receiving financing for homes and cars. To this degree, credit cards can work
to a student’s benefit. In addition, credit cards can prove to be very useful in situations of
emergency or when making purchases that require large sums of money, since some
claim they are more secure than carrying cash. Of course, to a college freshman, the need
for a pizza at 11 o’clock at night sometimes seems like an emergency.

Questions: Do the state and colleges have the right to limit access of credit card
companies to students? Do they have a duty to do so? Should the students be
considered solely responsible for making their own informed decisions about applying
for credit cards? Do families also bear responsibility for the poor economic decisions of
their children (even adult children)? Should we hold families accountable in some form?

6. Organic Endeavors
In a world of quickly developing technology, some people have come to the
conclusion that less is more. Many are turning to organically grown vegetables in an
effort to reduce the impact that humans have on the environment, and also in order to
protect themselves from potentially harmful untested technologies. One common type of
non-organic growing procedure is the use of GMOs or genetically modified organisms.
With GMOs, scientists have developed the ability to isolate particular genes that may be
beneficial to mass produced crops, such as genes that improve flavor, nutrition, or pest
resistance.
A common argument against GMO use is that it may produce super-pests that are
resistant to the modifications made, or, worse yet, that the pests may simply move to
destroy native vegetation since they no longer would be able to feed on their normal diet
of crops. Ania Wieczorek, a researcher at Hawaii State University counters these claims.2
She points out that in 10 years of Bt use, a common GMO agent that makes crops
resistant to corn borers, cotton budworms, and bollworms, these pests have not shown
any signs of resistance to the gene. The Bt GMO crops have “DNA from a naturally
occurring insecticidal organism, Bacillus thuringiensis, incorporated into their genome.”
The Bt gene actually kills the pests who consume plants with the gene, rather than just
repel them. This effect somewhat detracts from arguments that pests will move from
their preferred diet of, say, cotton, to more native vegetation, since they are not repelled,
but simply killed.
Of course, as anyone who has been exposed to ecological studies will note, all
organisms are part of a web, and when an agent is introduced that kills a certain strand of
the web, the whole structure is affected. Bollworms feed birds and other animals, which
may suffer when the bollworm population is reduced. But Bt cotton crops only target
very specific species of pests, and likely leave many other species of insect available for
consumption by bollworm predators. Still, we may in 20 years find out that bollworms
produce a very necessary component of some species’ diet, and find a hole in our
ecological web, which may be very difficult to repair.
An argument in favor of GMO crops is that they would reduce reliance on
traditional pesticides and herbicides, thereby reducing the toxins on the surface of plants
that we eat, and also sparing the groundwater from such toxins.
Another benefit of GMO use is the ability to inject foods with extra nutrients or
create crops that last longer. These qualities would merely save an average American
consumer a few dollars at the grocery store, but for countries whose populations suffer
from hunger and malnutrition, these traits could be a lifesaver—literally. If scientists
2
http://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/GMO/downloads/publication.pdf
could inject rice with essential vitamins and nutrients into its genetic code, then rice,
which is a food staple in many undeveloped nations, could provide a starving child with
everything he would need to survive and flourish, some say.
Again, however, if we look at the potential risks, we could find that our science
could lead to unpredicted and potentially hazardous results. It may be possible that,
while beta-carotene may have been introduced to the gene of the crops, it is indigestible,
or comes with some negative side effect due to the alteration of the basic genetic
structure of the organism into which it was injected. These risks may be too great to take
when human lives are at stake, but wasting an opportunity to help starving populations
may be considered inhumane.
There is no conclusive evidence that GMO crops have negative side effects, and
we do have several government agencies, namely the U.S. Department of Agriculture
(USDA), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration (FDA), all monitoring the research and decisions regarding
implementation of GMOs into our diet. Some groups, such as the Soil Association, note
that our research may be insufficient and lack of information does not disprove
arguments against GMO use.

Questions: Many scientific pursuits come under ethical scrutiny due to their exploratory
nature. Do scientists have the right to experiment with certain procedures, and introduce
them to the public before long-term testing has occurred? Do the realizable benefits of
GMO crops outweigh the potential negative impacts that these crops pose to people
and the environment?

7. To Tell or Not to Tell


Forensic scientists provide a valuable service to the criminal justice system. They
can help us to convict the guilty and set the innocent free based on scientifically proven
evidence. These individuals, like most people, are subject to market pressures. They
have employers and clients to answer to, and sometimes these scientists must balance
their ideals of justice with this fact.
A case in point is a hypothetical situation proposed by the Forensic Science
Associates. A defense attorney, who we shall call Richard, has hired a forensic scientist,
Kathy, in the hopes that Kathy can find evidence that will help to prove that his client,
James, is not guilty. Kathy finds a fiber on the bullet that incriminates James, however,
which will work against the interests of those she was hired to help.3 The Forensic
Science Associates propose that Kathy has four options:
1. Throw the piece of evidence away.
2. Retain it.
3. Return the slide bearing the fiber, together with the bullet, to the
[prosecution] agency.
4. Return the incriminating fiber to its original location on the bullet, then
return the bullet to the prosecution.
If Kathy returns the fiber packaged neatly and prepared to be used against her
client, then she has virtually sealed the fate of Richard’s client, but moreover, she may be
in violation of some professional codes of conduct if she has responsibility to act in the
3
http://www.fsalab.com/dilemma_1.htm
best interest of those for whom he works, namely the attorney who hired her and the
client for whom that attorney works. On the other hand, to have knowledge of evidence
and obscure it might just as easily be considered concealment of this evidence, especially
if the scientist takes extraordinary measures to prevent the prosecution from seeing the
evidence.

Questions: Does Kathy have a responsibility, or even a right to weigh her job and
professional reputation when making her decision about the fiber? Does Kathy’s
responsibility lie with her client, or with bringing the truth to light? How would Kathy
best advance justice given the nature of our adversarial court system?

8. First Impressions
Companies use image to sell their product. Marketing and store design play a key
role in how customers perceive a corporation, and first impressions are key. Employees
are part of this image, and as such, businesses have been afforded the right to mandate
uniforms and other such policies. Cleanliness, attire, and attitude requirements are all
defended as an essential element of good business, however, there arise some instances in
which companies may cross the line between company image and discrimination.
Several cases have been brought before courts challenging the nature of uniform
requirements in business. The case in which a male sued Hooters over discrimination,
citing uniform as one of the main objections, brought this issue to light, but several other
cases have also been tried with varied results. A State of Maryland correctional officer
sued the State for requiring him to cut his dreadlocks. The employee claimed that the
refusing to allow him his dreadlocks constituted, “religious discrimination and disparate
treatment,” though he cited state law, rather than the commonly cited Title VII of the
Civil Rights Act of 1964, which was the watershed law with regard to ending
employment discrimination.4 The court agreed that the policy was discriminatory. In
another case in Florida, a male Blockbuster employee sued his employer because they
would not allow him to have long hair. He claimed that the standard was discriminatory,
since females in his same position were allowed to have long hair, and hence, he was
discriminated against due to his gender.
A young man named Eric applies to Cracker Barrel Old Country Store and
Restaurant for a server position and is hired. Eric has short hair at the time of his hiring,
and fits the company’s desired image to a tee. Cracker Barrel has experienced problems
with matching the image it wishes to portray and the style of employee it wishes to
employ. One instance involved discrimination against homosexuals, but the corporation
does defend its decisions by stating that it was, “founded upon a concept of traditional
American values.” Corporate executives defended decisions to terminate gay employees
since homosexuality conflicted with what the corporation perceived as such values. The
corporation currently uses the same standard of traditional American values to justify its
hair-length policy. Cracker Barrel does allow women to have long hair, and even allows
them to have “boy cuts,” or very short hair.
Eric, over the course of several years of employment, allows his hair to grow
beyond the accepted “collar length,” and is informed that if he refuses to cut his hair, he
will be disciplined, and possibly eventually terminated. After several years with the
4
http://www.paradigmpub.com/para/docs.asp?case=beards
company and constantly high evaluations, Eric feels as though such action would be
unfair, and argues with management about their definition of “traditional.” He claims
that long hair length for men has been widely accepted over several centuries, and that
the founding fathers often had long locks. The company counters with the fact that their
clientele and current social climate tend to look down upon long male hair as unkempt or
bad in some form. American legal policy tends toward encouraging capitalist goals, such
as allowing business to make economically advantageous decisions with regard to hiring
and firing, so long as those choices are not done with malice (as in firing a long-term
employee very shortly before they would receive retirement benefits) or discrimination.
As one journalist summarized of the decision in the Blockbuster case, “Grooming
policies relate more to the manner in which an employer chooses to run a business than to
the Title VII right to gender equity at work.”5

Questions: Is the hair length requirement an issue of discrimination? If so, does the
company hold a moral responsibility to remove this requirement from its policies? In
addition, should the company, nevertheless, be allowed to maintain its policy, since it
may be vital to its public image? If you believe that this is not an issue of discrimination,
has Eric violated his responsibility to the company to abide by the policies of the
corporation?

9. Fetal Rights
Often when analyzing an ethical situation, we find murky waters in which the
crime falls into an area not well defined by law or custom. One such issue arises in the
case of Laci Peterson. The murky aspect of this murder investigation and trial involves
her almost-term fetus. Many states have laws with regard to violence committed against
fetuses, but these laws vary. Author Debra Rosenberg investigates the issue of
culpability with regard to Laci Peterson’s pregnancy, and notes that we lack a nationwide
standard on the treatment of violence against fetuses.6
But, regardless of specific state laws or public opinion, fetal rights pose a problem
for the current legal system. Roe v. Wade established a precedent that abortion was legal
under some circumstances, and as such, our system implicitly creates the dividing line
between fetus and baby at the moment of birth. On the other hand, fetal-homicide laws
exist in 28 states and a federal law, the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, prevents the
killing of, “a child in utero.” .
Abortion is a decision made by a pregnant woman. Some abortions are allowed
even at the very end of pregnancy if the fetus has a severe disability not consistent with
long-term life or if the woman’s life is threatened by the continuation of the pregnancy.
Murder is “the unlawful killing of a human being by another with malice
aforethought, either express or implied.” Manslaughter is defined as, “the unjustifiable,
inexcusable and intentional killing of a human being without deliberation, premeditation
and malice.”7 Some states hold that the killing of a fetus (in situations other than
abortion) counts only as manslaughter, no matter what the circumstances.

5
http://www.diversitytraining.com/sexdis.html
6
Rosenberg, Debra, “The War Over Fetal Rights.” Newsweek. June 9, 2003. pp. 40.
7
Both definitions from Black’s Law Dictionary, Sixth Ed.
Based on medical records, doctors seem certain that Laci’s pregnancy was going
smoothly and that she was likely to give birth to a live baby. In fact, the pregnancy was
so far along that there exists a question as to whether the fetus was delivered as a live
birth, or if the fetus was expelled, in what would essentially be a miscarriage due to
Laci’s murder. If the child was actually born live, rather than miscarried, the question
regarding his legal status would be a much clearer question. Clearly the murderer would
be guilty then of the killing of two “human beings.” If the fetus was miscarried,
however, we might afford the guilty party responsibility for only one actual murder, and
possibly one manslaughter. .

Questions: Should Laci Peterson’s alleged murderer be tried for one murder or two
(regardless of the laws of the particular state in which she resides)? Is it acceptable
to place a scientific standard of life?

10. To Tell the Truth


We’ve all heard the old scenario… you have one month to live, so now you will
go out and do everything that you never did before, or would you? Not everyone takes
that ‘grab life by the throat and live life to its fullest in your dying moments’ sort of
attitude. Some patients become bitter, or feel helpless and depressed. Telling a person
that he is going to die can not only be one of the hardest tasks of the medical profession,
but it can also drastically alter the dying person’s way of living in his last days. This
leads to a significant question with regard to how to handle some terminally ill patients.
Do you tell the terminally-ill patient that his case is almost certainly incurable and
deadly, or do you string him along with hope? This very question troubles doctors, and
some have even come up with creative ways to analyze this ethical dilemma.
Fran Heller, in an article entitled, “The Role of Live Theatre in Medical
Education,” explores a performance that addresses medical issues to help medical
students become aware of the issues faced by terminally ill patients. The play, “Cold
Storage,” centers on two terminally ill patients and their different methods of coping.
After seeing the play, Dr. Stuart Youngner, Chair of Case Western Reserve’s Bioethics
Department noted, “We used to lie to patients as a policy. We were taught in medical
school that the way to deal with people who had fatal illnesses was to lie to them. Now
the culture is that you don’t lie to people. You tell them the truth.”8
Dr. Youngner feels as though times have changed. Back when lying was
considered a more acceptable practice, communication between doctor and patient was
hindered, whereas the current state of affairs allows for such communication. Other
doctors in response to the play noted that truth and mercy must be jointly used when
dealing with patients in dire situations, implying that flatly telling a patient that his
position is hopeless would be a poor practice.

Questions: Do doctors have a responsibility to tell their patients the complete truth, and
is that responsibility at all mitigated by circumstances such as terminal illness? What
about a patient who has psychological issues, such as manic depression, that may
influence how he or she deals with such information; should the doctor ignore such a
problem? Should the length of time left for a person to live, or the person’s
8
Quote taken from Heller’s article found at: http://www.cwru.edu/med/bioethics/Newsletter2002-Fall.pdf
psychological well-being influence a decision to tell the patient that he or she will die
soon, e.g., if a person is likely to become incredibly depressed and reclusive with the
news, and shut off those people and things he or she loves, should the doctor
consider withholding the information?

11. Joseph9
Joseph was known to be a good student. He was active in school politics, played
ultimate Frisbee with friends, and usually received moderate to good grades in his
classes. One day, Joseph was at a party, and he overdosed on a drug that was in his
drink. No one is quite sure whether his consumption of the drug was intentional, or if it
was slipped into his beverage without his prior consent, but this question will be left up to
investigators who followed up on his death. From this tragedy, however, another
problem arises.
We live in a technological age, and Joseph was no exception. He used a computer
on campus for homework, communication with friends and family, and other activities of
his choice. After his death, Joe’s cousin was sent to retrieve Joe’s computer files. Joe’s
mother sent his cousin to retrieve the files because she does not possess the computer
literacy to do it herself. What is possessed on the hard drive is unknown to all parties
involved, and the school has a policy of non-interference with private communications
and files. The hard drive could contain material as innocuous as his last three semesters
of English term papers, or it might be as risqué as hard-core pornography. It seems very
likely that Joe would not have wanted his mother to bear witness to embarrassing or
highly personal data that he had not disclosed before his death.
On the other hand, maybe he left beneficial clues explaining his death, such as
suicide notes or journal entries regarding depression that might alter the investigation of
his case. It is possible that he may have been having particular difficulties with school or
relatives that may have influenced an undisclosed depression. Despite the emotional hurt
that these discoveries could inflict on his family, these discoveries could at least put to
rest most considerations of foul play.

Questions: Should the school’s tech administrators allow his cousin to take the files
home to his mother? Is there some question as to who should be allowed to see Joe’s
private communications and files? Do any of his relatives even have the right to view his
personal files without written prior directive, such as through a will? Should the
university insist on a court order before releasing the documents, or do they have a
responsibility to disclose any information that might assist the family as soon as possible?
Should the tech administrators look into Joe’s files and possibly omit anything, such as
pornography, that would not help to his family understand his death or his achievements?

12. The Road to Adulthood


Last year, University of Montana students opted to add a $2.00 transportation fee
to the semester fees included in their bill from the University, and this $2.00 was aimed at
supporting Grisss Rides. Grisss Rides offer students a safe and free (save for the $2.00
added fee) way of returning home from downtown festivities via public bus. The public

9
Derived from case described at: http://www.nd.edu/~rbarger/deceased-cse.html
transportation offered through Grisss Ride primarily services the dormitories on campus
and other student housing.
While the Grisss Ride service is meant to protect students, there lies an implicit
expectation of alcohol consumption. While this assumption may be justified, there also
lies a concern regarding the high number of citations of “Minor in Possession,” or as
many minors quickly refer, MIP. The University may hold a responsibility to prevent the
easy acquisition of means of facilitating unwise or illegal partying habits of students.
While the average age of all students is 22, the 24% who are 25 or older may be
significantly altering the statistic, “blowing the curve,” as it were. A large segment of the
University student population is under the legal drinking age, and yet, they are going to
be supporting the “drunk bus,” as some have termed Grisss Ride, and have the
opportunity to take advantage of its service.
Proponents of Grisss Rides state that even if one is not consuming alcohol when
partying downtown, he or she may still be at risk of alcohol related fatality if he or she
drives a car when other intoxicated individuals are on the road. Student government
proposed the Grisss Ride fee, presented the referendum, and passed the fee increase; the
wishes of the student body, therefore, certainly have been represented. Some parents and
local citizens appreciate the fact that students are taking a responsible approach to their
drinking, however, they are concerned about a potential increase in underage alcohol
consumption.

Questions: Does the administration have a responsibility to disallow student-made


decisions, such as those concerning Grisss Rides, if they feel as though such choices
may be encouraging poor moral decisions (such as an increased ease with which
underage students can break alcohol consumption laws)? Do underage undergraduate
students, even responsible elected senators, necessarily have the knowledge of what is
best for a student population when the law says they are not even responsible enough to
drink alcohol? Moreover, shouldn’t the city or community be sponsoring such rides,
since they would provide a “positive” service to all community members?