It was Charmaine’s idea to get Bill and Lisa a gift. Very thoughtfully, she emailed the whole cohort for ideas… not realizing that Bill and Lisa were on the cohort list (sneaky of them!). We had not even really decided on a present when Charmaine got a note back from Bill saying that he “couldn’t accept gifts from students”. Was this the truth, or just a handy bit of “truthiness” created as a deflection?
About the same time, as we were discussing at my table what we might choose as a thank-you gift, John Dallas raised a similar point. “Do you think it might look like we are trying to buy their favour? Maybe it’s a conflict of interest.” Smart guy – that had never occurred to me.
What could we do? Should we take Bill at his word and forgo any thank-you gift? Should we go with our intuition (most of us are Ns, after all) and get something nice? I decided to research the matter. I put together a quick question for an expert in the field of ethical process in post-secondary institutions, Colleen Hoppins. I guess this would be a Delphi study of very limited scope and narrow focus.
My question was, “Our cohort would like to present Bill and Lisa with a gift tonight to show our appreciation. Are they allowed to accept? Should we specify that it should in no way affect our marks? 😉 ” (Novak, C., personal communication, August 2, 2012)
She answered very quickly. The feedback I received from my question was as follows:
Thanks, Catherine! 🙂
Yes, quite right, small gifts of appreciation when transparently given from the group as a token of appreciate [sic] are fine.
It was a pleasure to meet with the class and I so appreciated all the great questions and energy.
Colleen (Hoppins, C., personal communication, August 2, 2012)
I had the answer within 30 minutes, proving that it needn’t take long to design a question, nor does the research period need to be lengthy or the cost expensive. It’s not Master’s level in scope, but my conscience was clear as I went to Purdy’s for two boxes of assorted chocolates.
I hope you enjoyed them, Bill and Lisa!