Hi, UVA Center for Politics! Ready for the Unify Challenge: College Bowl?

Join thousands of students across 40+ college campuses to share your voice in a guided one-on-one video conversation about goals for our country

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What is the Unify Challenge: College Bowl?

Illustration - two characters taking the Unify Challenge

It's a guided conversation with a student from another university.

Let's show the nation how student conversations can make a big difference in our country.

The Unify Challenge College Bowl is a guided video conversation with a student from another university who's different from you. Together, the two of you will talk through a survey about big goals for our country. You'll cover topics like mental health, climate change, policing, student loans, and immigration. No prep needed!

The Unify Challenge is proving that when it comes to big goals for our country… we’re not that far apart. It’s human nature to feel comfortable with “our own tribe”... but it’s not so healthy for our country. In the Challenge, you'll meet face-to-face with a fellow student who you might never get to know in your real life.

If you think people who voted “for the other guy” or watch that news channel are, well... fill in the blank... you will likely be surprised. In a good way!

“I really felt this challenge was a means of breaking chains within the political parties and showing people that we are more alike than not.”

Lucy T. | Athens, GA

“Especially for people who don’t interact that often with people of differing political beliefs, this is a good, safe way to engage with these people.”

David M. | Harlingen, TX

“This challenge was such a unique experience. Never before have I had such an in-depth conversation about my beliefs, let alone with a complete stranger. It’s an experience that I think everyone deserves to have and should have.”

Mikayla H. | Stockton, CA

"I think it’s helpful to get a perspective of the opposite aisle that doesn’t come from the media or political commentators – that is, it’s helpful to actually talk to someone with different beliefs than me, rather than just listening to people talk about them.”

Angus L. | Manchester, MO, IL

Here’s how it works

Less fighting.
More listening.

Illustration - Boxer character (facing right)Illustration - Boxer character (facing left)
Illustration - Character filling out their survey

1. Tell us about yourself.

Start by answering a few basic questions so we can match you with the perfect partner. Your partner may vote differently than you do or be someone you’d never get the chance to meet in your daily life.

Then, you’ll pick a date for your Challenge. There are six days in September and October 2022, with two options on each day to choose from.

2. What you’ll need…

You’ll need a laptop or desktop computer. (Phones and tablets don't work. And no Chromebooks, either, please.)

And give yourself about an hour. Some partners chat longer because they get into it. Totally up to you! And you’ll need an open mind. It’s OK to disagree. In fact, it’s great to disagree.

The best Challenges are ones where people find common ground and get into productive but respectful disagreement.

Illustration - Characters chatting in a Unify Challenge

3. Take the Challenge and have a conversation.

You may be thinking… “A video conversation with a complete stranger? What will we talk about?” Don’t worry. We make it super easy. It’s a guided survey that you take together about goals for the country around issues like mental health, climate change, policing, student loans, immigration, and more. You don't have to be “into politics” — no prep needed!

4. Feel hopeful and share your voice.

Hope? What’s that? This experience is exhilarating. It’s like going on a rollercoaster that looks scary, but after you go on it and you zoom through the drops and loops, you're like, “I want to do that again!”

The Unify Challenge is like that but without the long lines and screaming 13 year olds.

And at the end of the Challenge, you can share your ideas and feedback.

Illustration - Characters excited after completing their Unify Challenge

FAQs

Who will I be paired up with? What if we don’t get along?

You will be paired with another student who you wouldn’t ordinarily interact with in your daily life. You may not always agree (and that’s the beauty of it!) but everyone does this with the best of intentions. People worry that they'll be paired with a troll or someone combative. In our experience, this simply doesn't happen. But if it does, you can just leave the conversation and contact us (events@unifyamerica.org).

Wait. Do I need to know a lot about these topics? (Nope.)

Nope. No need to prepare at all.

How are people matched?

Our system tries to match folks who are political opposites first. Sometimes, people who are more politically aligned but are different geographically or demographically get matched. We have a special experience for those Challenge matches!

Will my email address or contact info be shared with my partner?

No. We protect your privacy. Some people really like getting to know each other and may choose to share contact info — but that’s entirely up to you!

Do you screen participants?

People worry about this and wonder if they’ll encounter a troll. To date, we have never had this issue. On the off-chance you get matched with an idiot, you can always just hit the Help button or simply close your browser.

How much time will it take?

Plan for about an hour. Sometimes it takes less time… and sometimes partners go longer because they are so interested in the conversation.

What kind of computer setup do I need?

You will need a desktop or a laptop computer. This experience is a video call, so be sure your camera and mic are working. The Unify Challenge won’t work on a phone or tablet. (No Google Chromebooks, either, please.)

participating schools

Join thousands of students across more than 40 universities

Here are a few colleges and universities that are joining the Challenge, too. Ready to find out who your match will be?

Illustration - Characters bowing to eachother

Let's get started.

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