Line Etiquette Reflects Community Values

Posted on September 23, 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized |

This morning I waited with thousands of other OSU students for tickets to the upcoming football game against USC. The line was already snaking around Gill Coliseum when we arrived at 7AM and I had already seen a large contingency of “extreme Beaver Believers” camped out for tickets the night before. On the surface, this line was a showcase to the devotion that OSU faithful have for their football team and university- something that students would be proud to be a part of and remember fondly as the kickoff to their academic year. Under the surface things were quite different. During the 2+ hours that I stood in line, I saw countless students cutting in line and hundreds of friends enable their buddies to cut. My primary concern as I watched the line grow and grow in width not length was what message this behavior was sending to the new members of our community.

If I could, I would ask the following questions of those new students: Were you taking away a belief that cutting corners is a legitimate way to get ahead at OSU? How will that impact your future decisions to cheat on a quiz, or lie to a roommate, or tell the truth on a job application?

For the students who chose to cut I ask, what compelled you to cut? Did you plan to from the beginning or did you decide it was ok when you saw others doing it? Did you realize that they you were compromising your personal integrity in order to gain a better seat? Did you realize that in bettering your own situation, you were inevidably hurting everyone elses? Where was your respect and civility for your fellow students? If you are a student leader, how did your actions reflect your organizations values?

For students who wanted athletics or public safety to regulate the line (there was a point where I definitely fell into this category) I ask, do you expect the university to regulate all student behavior? What freedoms will you lose if we do so? What benefits will you gain? And what are you willing to do to help promote student integrity and respect? Did any of you call out those cutting in line? How did those around you react? How did you feel when you did it?

Ultimately I want to commend those students who took the high road, who didn’t cut and didn’t let their friends cut. Whether you got tickets or not, you are the students who deserve to represent OSU on the national stage. You are the ones who motivate me and others like me to continue the work that we do.

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2 Responses to “Line Etiquette Reflects Community Values”

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Good post. These are great questions. I do wonder what answers you would have received if you had stepped out of the line and with clipboard in hand and started asking some of these questions. Given where they are in their various levels of development, where they would land with a development theorist’s skeema.

Scott, it is good to see and read your post. If I stepped out of line I wonder how many students would give me honest reasons for why they were cutting and which ones would make things up in order to feel less guilty. I also wonder what type of answers I would get if I asked those who hadn’t decided to cheat why they made their decision to follow social rules. Perhaps their development would affect what type of answer they gave. I’m reminded of the Heinz dilemna (where the man must choose whether or not to steal the life saving drug for his wife) and how it is supposed to relate to the stages of moral reasoning. Those who chose not to cut because they didn’t want to get caught or simply had been told all their life it was wrong and didn’t want to look bad in front of others would have been in Kohlberg’s lower stages of moral development. Those who might have said that they were trying to uphold OSU values or honor the principle of justice might have been in higher stages.


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