Should College Athletes Be Paid?

By Eric Abruzzi, Simon Brady and Elisabeth Kip

For years there has been debate on whether or not college athletes should get paid. Recently, California passed a law that allows college athletes to get paid. The bill is called the Fair Pay to Play Act and it allows college athletes in California to profit from their name, image, and likeness. They are allowed to sign endorsements and all types of licensing contracts and are even allowed to hire agents to represent them in deals.

The governor of California sat down with famous athletes like LeBron James, Diana Taurasi, Ed O’Bannon, and others to discuss how important this is for college athletes. 

Each side has valid arguments supporting their viewpoint. One main argument favoring paying college athletes is how specifically Division I programs with esteemed football and basketball programs make a sizeable profit for a product created by unpaid players. Also, 24 schools make at least $100 million annually from their athletic departments. The NCAA made close to $1.1 billion in revenue during 2017.

For the other side, one of their main arguments is scholarships. Most athletes receive scholarships that cover room and board, books, etc. Students understand what the money is being used for. But now if athletes can make money, where will scholarships go? It could be harmful for athletes to make that kind of money at such a young age, not knowing how to manage it. 

Also, if salaries are earned then the students would have to start paying taxes. If athletes are only focused on money, they will want to go to the schools where they could make the most money and then start focusing more on themselves rather than their team. 

This could be a great thing for college athletes. They would finally get the recognition they deserve, but it could be a harmful thing too. This topic will continue to raise questions on how much money the athletes will make. 

Will it only be based off their likeness? Or will revenue from the programs become a factor for how much they earn? Questions will continue to surface and the future of the NCAA is unclear going forward. 

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Ethics in Social Media

Most of us are born right after 1995 are considered to be Generation Z. Gen Z is a generation that is very exposed to social media and technology and don’t realize the harm that it is starting to cause to the world outside of social media. Although social media in an aspect protects us by giving us knowledge of upcoming events, it also has its downsides.

Compared to previous generations, Gen Z is less likely to go to mall or see a movie and are more likely to spend hours on Instagram and Facebook. Because of the strong use of technology, this generation has less “in person” and “face to face” contact with others leading to higher suicide rates.

Snapchat is a common application that is used by the current generation and the upcoming. An eighth grader from a middle school located in Maryland was suspended for three weeks and did not get to graduate with his class in June because he appeared in a Snapchat holding up an air-soft gun.

Although it was air-soft gun, schools approach even the hint of a gun very seriously. Tensions are high with the media pushing the idea that we have a mass shooting epidemic going on, but should there be some sensibility among administrators. That’s not likely to happen with the ongoing stigmatization of guns and gun ownership. There’s been enough fear that now people see a gun-shaped object and freak out. That’s something that needs to be fixed.

Many researchers and politicians encourage us to remain afraid of media, and children themselves. Of course children will always be the most vulnerable of people, it does not mean we do not have something positive to learn from them. It seems that there is a constant power struggle and negative eye turned towards the youth, which today includes their media usage. 

Instagram is considered to be the most unhealthy for mental health associated with high levels of anxiety, depression, bullying, and Fomo (fear of missing out). Youtube is considered to be the only social media that has a net positive effect on mental health.

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LGBTQ+ Discrimination in the Workplace

Lately, there’s always some sort of ethical dilemma in the news. One being that you can still get fired in at least 30 states just for being gay.

It’s crazy to think that homosexuality still has a place in our society but we keep seeing situations where it begins to affect not only personal, but professional life as well.

Meet Rachel Colvin, for example.

She’s been an English teacher from Ballarat Christian College since 2008 and was fired in 2019. Why was she fired, you ask? She supports same sex marriage. The school informed her that she “… would no longer be offered certain teaching and professional development opportunities.” She was also required to attend counseling sessions with the head of teaching. (Martin, 2019).

This isn’t even a rare occurence:

Margie Winters and Stacy Bailey, are both teachers who were fired after students then parents received wind of their marital status. Aimee Stephens, a funeral home director who confided in her supervisor that she was transgender was later fired for doing so. Finally, Don Zarda was a skydiver who cracked a friendly joke to a client about his sexuality to make them feel better which later led to his career being cut short.

Seems illegal, doesn’t it? The problem is it is not illegal. Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act prohibits employers from discriminating on the basis of race, color, religion, sex and national origin. It doesn’t specify sexual orientation. Ethically, this amendment should be worked around in order to promote more inclusive terms for all and what benefits more people in the long run. The aggregate good means allowing for everyone to do their job regardless of their sexual orientation, because who is it harming?

72 countries see homosexuality as a severe crime and 12 countries have homosexuality punishable by death.

Will we see change in the future? Possibly. The supreme court is currently reviewing a case which could either ban or allow the discrimination of LGBT+ people in the workplace.

Hopefully the decision goes the right way and we can provide the same protections granted to everyone else to the LGBTQ+ community.

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Cheating Prevention: Indian Students Asked to Wear Boxes on Their Heads

By: Jessica Sivillo, Nicole Estell, and Darienne Bartsh

Have you ever witnessed someone cheat? Do you think students get away with cheating easily in the United States? Many teachers brainstorm how they can stop cheating in the classroom.

While cheating in the United States is a common occurrence, the problem is more severe in other countries like India. CNN reporter Jesse Yeung explained that a school in India, The Bhagat Pre-University College, encouraged students to wear cardboard boxes on their heads during an exam. After the school received backlash, administrators apologized for their actions. How would you feel if you were asked to wear a cardboard box during an exam? We believe that students should not be subjected to this kind of behavior.

According to Yeung, the school’s request was part of an optional experiment to reduce cheating in the classroom. The experiment was the school’s response to consistent cheating problems over the past few years. In fact, in 2015, parents climbed school buildings to hand their children cheat sheets for their exams.

As you can imagine, cheating in India stems from a much greater issue. Many Indian students endure pressure from their family to be successful and to get out of the poverty cycle. Many high school and college students understand this pressure, but it seems as though the culture in India takes it one step further. Unfortunately, this pressure has negatively impacted Indian student’s mental health and in some situations, students have turned to suicide.

While the cheating persists in the school system, what can educators do to help? Would the outside pressure for students continue if educators had conversations about cheating and the desire to be successful? While we personally do not have definite answers to these questions, we think a conversation must occur with educators, students, and parents.

Ethically, we recognize that there is a problem with asking students to wear cardboard boxes on their heads. However, it seems that the ethical dilemma in Indian school systems is much greater than this issue at hand. What can school systems do to enforce better ethical practices amongst teachers and students?

In our opinion, we feel that educators should talk to their students about cheating in the classroom and how this can impact their future. Teachers should also take the time to address the pressure students face and to show them how to manage the stress. The school system should facilitate a conversation with parents about how their actions can affect their children both positively and negatively.

What do you think school systems and educators can do inside and outside of the classroom to prevent cheating and to help students both academically and personally? Leave a comment below to share your thoughts on the issue.

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Donald Trump v. Chrissy Teigen

President Donald Trump and celebrity Chrissy Teigen have butted heads for several years, and it has just recently escalated in the last few months. Chrissy is known for her pithy commentary and is an active twitter user. She often tweets to Donald Trump and often voices her strong opinions against him.

The tension escalated when Donald Trump blocked Chrissy Teigen in 2017. In September of 2019, Chrissy Teigen’s husband, John Legend, was on MSNBC talking about the First Step Act. After this interview aired, President Trump complained on Twitter that he and Republicans did not get recognized for this act. In President Trump’s tweets, he singles out Legend and Teigen, and calls her a “filthy mouthed wife”. Teigen then went on Ellen and talked about President Donald Trump and his tweets to her.

President Trump is known for his insulting and rude tweets which are often directed towards specific individuals. He is also known for blocking people on twitter. There are a few ethical issues with his actions. Is it acceptable for the President of the United States to be attacking people via Twitter? Is the President allowed to block people on Twitter? 

We believe these actions are unethical. Egoism and the Liberty theory can be used to explain Trump’s actions. President Trump may gain self-fulfillment by attacking people through Twitter or he may block people on Twitter out of his own self-interest. Also, according to First Amendment rights, President Trump is not allowed to block people on Twitter. Whichever reasons he may use, it is not acceptable for the President to be insulting and attacking individuals through Twitter.

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Diet Culture in Social Media

By: Erika, Isabel, Regina

Instagram and Facebook have recently made a positive step forward in making social media a safer place for all. These two social giants passed a new policy where minors under age 18 are blocked from seeing posts that promote certain weight loss products or cosmetic procedures that could be misleading and harmful to their developing minds. 

Adolescents are not the only people harmed by these kinds of posts. Adults can be fooled by false advertising, too, so “miracle diet” posts are also being banned, monitored and taken down by the two social media applications.

This issue blew up as the craze of promoting these slimming practices has taken over celebrity and influencer feeds, which conveniently reach millions of people, many being teens and young adults. Many of us have seen these posts all over: “Drink this tea and drop 10 pounds in a week,” “Skip dinner; this protein shake is magic,” and the like. 

Kim Kardashian and Cardi B have been especially criticized for their participation in this fad of “miracle” diet posts. 

The behind-the-scenes factors that are not shown in the social media posts celebrities or influencers make about how to look like them include: genetics, aesthetic procedures, photoshop and personal trainers that these posts are paying for. 

This modern case can be applied to a very old ethical theory called the Social Contract Theory. This theory prompts society to establish a set of agreed upon rules, which will work towards a greater common good. In this case, the media giants Instagram and Facebook, set  policies to diminish these harmful posts and unrealistic beauty ideals. Within this contract, various proposed solutions to the issue include the privatization and improvement of common resources as well as their management. 

Is it ethically wrong to make money off of promoting products that can lead to unhealthy dieting practices? Products that can negatively affect how a teen views themself and the concept of body image in general? Yes, we believe it is. Although Instagram and Facebook are actively making an effort to reduce the “diet culture” society has instilled in us, this journey to a physically, mentally, and emotionally healthier society is a long one that will take effort from not only THEM, but US as well.

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Juul & e-Cigarettes: Illegal Marketing, Lung Disease & Federal Investigations

A Juul Starter Pack

Juul Labs (you’ve probably heard of them) produce small nicotine vapes to help adult smokers eliminate cigarettes. While other nicotine vapes are on the market, Juul, specifically, seems to appeal to people like you and me. I, for one, see them all over campus, and many of my friends own one. 

The FDA recently sent a warning letter to Juul regarding the statements they are making about their product. Juul is accused of illegally marketing their product as a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes. Without any scientific evidence to prove this claim, regulators have cracked down and people are getting worried. 

With marketing and sales practices targeted towards people our age (and younger), featuring social media ads full of bright colors and a “cool vibe,” Juul claims that this was never their intention. However, Juul canbe partially blamed for the nationwide vaping epidemic among America’s youth. Did you know that people our age, statistically, were never supposed to start smoking cigarettes? That is, until Juul came along. 

Not much is known about the long-term health effects of these vape products, making the 450 illnesses and 6 deaths related to vaping a scary situation. I’ve asked all my friends to tryquitting, but it’s clear many students and young adults are already addicted.  

Example of a Juul advertisement

So how did Juul make these decisions that eventually affected consumers, society, cigarette companies, the FDA, families, schools and even those closest to us? Outside pressures, including sources of revenue for the brand, likely influenced where ads were placed, as well the target audience. If a certain age group makes up the majority of your profit, would you risk losing that money”? 

Political pressures are influencing Juul’s current decisions while under close watch of the nation, as the Trump administration, the FDA and the CDC continue to take action, investigate the matter and put bans in place

Even though the purpose of Juul (to wean adult smokers off of cigarettes) has proven to be successful, the other consequences — deaths, illness, a nationwide epidemic — all seem to outweigh any good the brand has contributed to society. What could Juul have done differently? Will they be able to turn this situation around and act ethically in the future? 

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Cheating Review

I’m kicking off my new semester teaching communication ethics with a discussion about an ethical challenge students are familiar with:  Cheating.

A testing center at Penn State uses high-tech surveillance to watch for student cheating.  (Photo:  Jim Lo Scalzo for USN&WR)

When I first taught this class many years ago, I featured a Blog about the University of Central Florida (UCF) cheating scandal, whereby a professor accused students of cheating on the midterm exam.  Since that time, UCF and many other institutions have gone high tech to fight cheating, and the use of online plagiarism detection services (such as have become commonplace. 

A not-so-new cheating buzzword caught my attention this year:  “contract cheating.”  I have long been aware of professional services that provide written work for a fee, but I was not aware how much attention this topic has garnered or how much the practice has grown among college students

I agree the companies that provide this service have become more conspicuous, and students may have become more jaded to the seriousness of this offence.  In an NPR news story about students cheating their way through college, I was struck by one student who didn’t consider it “cheating” if she paid someone to write “original” work.

“They don’t plagiarize,” she said, “…they write everything on their own.”

As much as professors would like to think this topic is black-and-white, it is not.  There are many different positions you could take.  Some cast blame on educators and even our parents.  There also are many ethical approaches you could take to explore the reasoning that leads to cheating, including utilitarianism, virtue ethics, even social contract theory and many more. 

The International Center for Academic Integrity sponsors an International Day of Action against contract cheating (coming October 16).

I look forward to engaging this year’s class on the topic and to hearing your views and perspectives.

[Click below to leave a comment.]

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Guns Instead of Roses

Guns have been an extremely controversial topic lately, with people having very strong opinions on both sides. When the 16-year-old couple Jamie Pereira and Tito Velez posted a homecoming picture, they stirred up a lot of trouble because they were both holding guns. Although the guns were Airsoft riffles, which only shoot plastic pellets, the two students were suspended from school and even facing possible explosion.


Superintendent Richard Gross, of Bristol Plymouth Vo-tech, Massachusetts, found the picture to be over the top to bring into a school event. Even though the students took the picture at their home and did not bring the guns to school, they titled the picture “Homecoming 2014,” which frightened many people.

The students understand why it caused problems but do not believe they deserved to be suspended. Pereira and Velez had to get an attorney in order to get back in school and raised more than enough money from those who disagreed with their punishment.

Was it ethically wrong for Pereira and Velez to post this picture on facebook? Should the students have to face suspension and possible explosion?

Gun safety and school shootings have been such a big topic these days that posting a picture like that will no doubt cause many to be worried and there should an action taken to keep society feeling safe. Although the couple meant no harm, it is best for their classmates, teachers, and families included to feel protected at school.

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Is TMZ good or bad journalism?

TMZ is a well-known celebrity news website where you can get your latest gossip on celebrities, Hollywood rumors and entertainment news.  They have a TV show that shows videos of journalists interviewing celebrities as well as talk about specific things going on that they have discovered in Hollywood.  They also post to social media about news they have recently discovered.

TMZ journalism is questionable because they don’t really have boundaries.  When Harvey Levin, founder of celebrity news website, was questioned on if they have a specific “code of ethics” to avoid international news situations his response was jokingly “oh yeah we would never do anything like that.”  They seem to always post the latest celebrity gossip, but sometimes it can being going too far and even be false.

TMZ sports is responsible for leaking the Ray Rice video of him beating his wife in the elevator.  The question is asked, was this appropriate to show to the public?  Now, that the NFL has seen the video they are taking action, so was this video a good thing to show? This may be true. TMZ also was responsible for leaking Stephen Collin’s confession to being involved with a 10-year-old.  Again, the question is asked, “Is this appropriate to show to the public?”  Once this video was leaked, the popular 7th Heaven TV show that starred Collins no longer aired.  If this recording wasn’t leaked, would people like 7th Heaven still be taking action and cancelling the show?  Probably not. This goes into consequential ethics.  If the recording or video is shown to the public, is it creating more good or evil?  Yes, it may be a little inappropriate but if it’s going to get people to not support them and get higher people to take action then maybe it’s worth it.  Looking at both cases, I believe it has done more good than evil by punishing both stars.

However, TMZ has been known for having false accusations.  For example, they reported that Miley Cyrus died in a car accident in 2008 with no proof and later was removed from the website.  They also reported that Lil Wayne was in critical condtion and was being read his rights after suffering from a seizure.  TMZ reported that Lil Wayne was seconds away from dying.  This again was completely false and was later removed.  This leads to the question, yes TMZ is reporting everythign they hear the second they hear it, but shouldn’t they get their facts straight first?  Instead of being the first to post the news story, shouldn’t they make sure it’s actually true? Can we even rely on TMZ?

The media has mixed feelings of TMZ as well as the public.  If you ask someone like Evan Rosenblum who has worked with Harvey and TMZ how he feels about it, he will tell you TMZ is amazing.  The Daily Beast wrote an article saying that Rosenblum felt that Harvey is the best investigative journalist in the country and has broke amazing stories that the public needs to know.  Another media outlet that spoke about TMZ didn’t seem to agree with this statement.  The Chicago Now said that TMZ brings only negative press coverage for any person or company and they are looking to insult the topic at hand.  For example, TMZ respectfully reported the Tito and Jenna Jameson allegation, but after it was over continued to bash the couple.

Does TMZ do more harm than good? The question remains, but you can still ask yourself if the recording of Stephen Collins and Video of Ray Rice was never obtained and showed b TMZ, then would they still have jobs?  Probably.

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