Spotlight: Donuts & Dialogue

As administrators and faculty become further removed from the student body they once belonged to, many find it increasingly difficult to engage in meaningful dialogue with students at their level. Over the last two weeks, the University of Georgia’s Office of Academic Honesty partnered with University Housing to host events using peer-to-peer interaction.

This event was based around the popular meme that arose from the “Change My Mind” tweeted by Steven Crowder on TCU’s campus in 2018. Since the original post went viral, many people have photoshopped the meme, leaving it a blank canvas to initiate a conversation on a controversial topic. 

Student Ambassadors with the Office of Academic Honesty worked in pairs to create their own signs based off of the meme. They later presented these signs at several areas designated by University Housing over a two-week period. The time period selected was especially relevant, as it occurred shortly before the midterm of the semester – an assignment heavy point of the semester. The Student Ambassadors invited fellow students to speak with them about integrity on our campus while enjoying donuts.

UGA Donuts & Dialogue, September 16

Topics varied, with some students choosing to address whether or not being in a GroupMe is cheating. Another group looked into how test banks can be used to cheat. Some students even addressed the intent to cheat and how that can play a role in the policy at our institution.

Students mostly reacted positively, feeling invited into a conversation where their opinions were heard. The Student Ambassadors guided them through the conversation and ended with a reminder to read the course syllabus, talk to their instructors, and take advantage of the resources available to them. They also gave the students well wishes and practical academic integrity tips for their upcoming midterm assignments.

UGA Donuts & Dialogue, September 18

Whether or not this event will reduce the number of cases coming through the integrity process remains to be seen. For the 600+ students that spoke with us over this two-week period, hopefully we at least put integrity at the forefront of their thoughts. One thing we know is that promoting integrity requires a multipronged approach and partnering with other units on campus can build a community that reflects a commitment to integrity. In our partnership with University Housing, we are focusing on both direct and indirect messaging for students by sponsoring events and placings notices as strategic points of contact throughout the academic year.

Tell us, how are you promoting integrity on your campus? Leave a comment to share your strategies.

About the Author
Courtney Cullen is the Program Coordinator in the Office of Academic Honesty at the University of Georgia. Cullen works to support the initiatives of the Office of Academic Honesty and is working towards a Ph.D. in Higher Education. All views presented are those of the author.