1787 It's Complicated


1787 and It’s Complicated! More than 150 facilitators guided incoming first year students through It’s Complicated using the Eight Key Questions during 1787 August Orientation. What would you do if you found a quarter on the ground? How about if, leaving the library late one night, you find three hundred dollars on the ground and you see no one around? JMU faculty, staff, and other volunteer facilitators seemed genuinely surprised that many students would not even touch the quarter and some would just pocket the three hundred dollars. However, facilitators expressed an equal amount enjoyment when describing how thoroughly, thoughtfully, and maturely It’s Complicated participants discussed the knotty “Overdose” problem. After raising ethical questions, they had to decide, as a group, whether a university’s Student Government should accept a large donation of Narcan – an opioid overdose reversal medication. With the overarching goal of preparing students to pause and ask more questions, this year’s new Overdose Scenario left many facilitators inspired by the cognitive effort of incoming JMU Dukes. Students successfully completed Orientation informed of the Eight Key Question strategy and how it can be applied to a wide range of difficult decisions. Seven workshops, led by Lori Pyle, Christian Early, and Katrina Libera, helped prepare facilitators for the campus-wide endeavor while JMU FROGs (First yeaR Orientation Guides) and many Resident Advisors played a key role in animating and rousing tired-but-interested students. Mollie Zenz, Student Affairs Fellow, offered an It’s Complicated experience for the first time for transfer students, a group we are excited to reach with ethical reasoning foundational knowledge. The Overdose thought experiment will be used for the next two years. During that period perhaps ethical reasoning can help inform actions that address the opioid overdose epidemic. We would also like to express our gratitude for our hard-working colleagues and partners in Orientation who create the time and space to help make students’ first “classroom experience” memorable and meaningful.

Web Presence



Involves Faculty, Involves Staff, Involves Students


JMU Campus Scope



Begin Date


Areas of Engagement

Engaged Learning



On/Off campus

On campus

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