Making the Case: Promoting Good Work Through The Ethics Project
Jason Brennan, Robert J. and Elizabeth Flanagan Family Professor, created the Ethics Project as a way for students to tackle real-world issues. To bring their ideas to life, student groups receive $1,000 in funding from private foundations and alumni, as well as what Brennan calls “radical freedom and radical responsibility for their actions.” There are few rules, but one must-do? Create something that provides good to whatever community they’re trying to serve. Here’s how three students (along with their group participants) interpreted that idea:
Kenan Dogan (B’23)
The Problem: It is quite costly for international students to return home for winter break, especially during COVID-19 when travel restrictions and travel requirements that made it practically impossible for them to return home. We realized that it would be convenient for international students to remain on campus. After surveying more than 100 international students, we found that 69% planned to stay in the United States instead of returning home, and 76% would prefer to remain on campus. However, Georgetown did not allow students to remain on campus.
The Solution: After crafting a data-driven whitepaper for the university administration and popularizing our efforts among the student body, we successfully influenced the university to allow international students to remain on campus in the Georgetown University hotel for $1,560. We estimated that roughly 30% of international students would like to remain on campus at this price point, and we estimated that we saved students more than $80,000 in aggregate without transferring costs to the university.
Reid Blynn (B’16)
The Problem: iPhone screen replacement from Apple can be costly at $120 a repair. Students commonly couldn’t afford to get their phone fixed.
The Solution: We wanted to provide students a quality, convenient, and affordable iPhone screen replacement alternative. We repaired about 25–30 phones at a price point that was half of Apple’s fee. During my junior and senior years, I created a team of 10 students from six college campuses promoting Campus Screen Repair. It ran until 2017 when waterproofing and OLED screens came out, which disrupted the business and provided some hefty hurdles. No one wanted to keep it going, so I shut the doors. I don’t regret it—the experience in itself was invaluable.
Molly Evanko (B’25)
The Problem: Students often left loads of laundry well past when the cycle was over, leading to people taking others’ laundry and dumping it either on the floor or on top of the machines.
The Solution: We wanted to clean up the laundry rooms by introducing racks and communal baskets, so if you had to take someone else’s laundry out, you could put it in the basket rather than on the machines or floor. We hoped this would make the laundry rooms more efficient for users and prevent people from having to rewash clothes that ended up on the ground. Today, clothes are cleaner, are no longer thrown on top of washing machines or onto the floor, and so far, none of the baskets have been stolen. To improve this project, we would love to track racks and baskets by asking students to scan their GOCards.
This story was originally featured in the Georgetown Business Fall 2022 Magazine.