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Justice for College Roommates: A Lighthearted Approach to a Complex Principle

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STUDENT VOICES | CHYNN PRIZE 3rd PLACE WINNER

By: Brendan Dagher

Everyday we struggle to resolve how to treat those who wrong us or cause us pain. How do we punish those who steal from us? Who determines how we are fully compensated for the pain others inflict on us? We demand justice, or a system of fairness that safeguards our dignity as humans. Our personal morals feed into this system of fairness, often making justice a complex ethical issue.

It wasn’t until my junior year of college that I began to truly question justice within the framework of morality. Ironically, living in an apartment with six other rowdy college students allowed me to examine and further develop my ideas of justice and morality. While living in the apartment, I realized that what seemed fair didn’t always seem right or moral. In this paper, I share how the experiences of living in an apartment with six of my good friends shaped my notion of justice in the greater context of society.

The summer before my junior year of college was full of excitement and anticipation for the coming school year. I would be living with six of my friends in an off-campus apartment. Surely, it would be an awesome year full of fun and crazy college antics. Initially, we were concerned that keeping our apartment clean was going to be quite the challenge. However, we brushed this off by determining that we would establish a system of accountability for dishes, trash, and other responsibilities. This system never came to fruition and I realized that maintaining a culture of order and responsibility in our apartment was a lot more difficult than we originally assumed.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.