You just have to read the first few lines on the Audacity Movement’s website to realize that it’s not your typical anti-bullying campaign. “We’re just peeps … who give an eff about our school, community and our time here … There’s no leader. No meetings. No bullshit.” Then again, not much about the Audacity Movement, or AM, at Lakehead University’s campus in Orillia, Ontario, is typical.
For starters, the campaign (and the website quoted above) was created by students. Quentin Evans and Laura East, students in Lakehead Orillia’s accelerated social work program, developed the Audacity Movement while on placement in the student affairs office. Since “bullying touches every stakeholder,” Mr. Evans says they decided on a “holistic approach” that would engage the entire campus community, from students to faculty to staff. In consultation with campus security, food services, the library and student groups, they came up with the campaign’s pièce de résistance: AM tokens.
The tokens are checker-size wooden disks (they look something like crokinole pieces) emblazoned with the campaign’s black “AM” logo. They’re designed to be handed out in recognition of a good deed and can be exchanged at the campus café for a free coffee or tea. At the start of finals in April, Mr. Evans and Ms. East launched the campaign by taping hundreds of tokens under chairs in the student centre. In the morning they flew a banner reading “Flip Your Chair!” overhead and tweeted the message for good measure.
Since then, students have run with the idea, said Frank Cappadocia, associate vice-provost at Lakehead Orillia. At least one student passed on a token to someone who acted kindly off campus. Others have taken inspiration from the tokens for their own pay-it-forward projects: about 500 anonymous handwritten letters of support and inspiration were delivered around campus and free snacks, pens and candy have been left out in public areas.
“We often talk about students being disinterested, or disengaged, or involved in so many other things that they’re not capable of being on campus or contributing positively,” he said. Mr. Evans, Ms. East and the students responsible for all those random acts of kindness have reminded the 20-year student affairs veteran that, given the chance, students can be as responsible, effective and passionate about creating positive change on campus as any university staffer.