Parents at Lake State
“We have a choice about how we behave, and that means we have the choice to opt for civility and grace.”
- Dwight Currie
Civility on Campus
Is “rude and crude” on its way out?
A culture of civility. What does that expression mean to you? Could it be a culture where:
- People return shopping carts to the appropriate area instead of leaving them in the middle of a parking lot?
- You regularly let others into lines of traffic?
- A fellow passenger asks you what floor you need to go to and pushes the elevator button for you?
- People don’t engage in complaint-fests?
- Students don’t eat disruptively throughout classes or have numerous side conversations during meetings?
- You get warning from the person in front of you before they lean their airplane seat back?
- Rumors and gossip are not the norm?
An increasing number of campus conversations are centering on issues of civility. Faculty are concerned by student behavior in class and by students who “get in their face.” Rude comments and gossip circles concern students. Staff feel caught in the crosshairs of “supervisor bashing” or dealing with increasingly uncivil phone calls. In short, a growing culture of rudeness is a growing campus concern.
In his book, Choosing Civility (2002), Dr. P.M. Forni, the cofounder of the Johns Hopkins Civility Project and a professor of Italian literature at the university, explores not just manners or politeness but civility. “Being civil,” he writes, “means being constantly aware of others and weaving restraint, respect, and consideration into the very fabric of this awareness.”
Dr. Forni shares The 25 Rules of Considerate Conduct, many of which may seem like common sense yet offer a nudge for us all to be more civil beings. His rules include:
- Pay Attention
- Acknowledge Others
- Think the Best
- Be Inclusive
- Speak Kindly
- Don’t Speak Ill
- Accept and Give Praise
- Respect Even a Subtle “No”
- Respect Others’ Opinions
- Mind Your Body
- Be Agreeable
- Keep It Down (and Rediscover Silence)
- Respect Other People’s Time
- Respect Other People’s Space
- Apologize Earnestly
- Assert Yourself
- Avoid Personal Questions
- Care for Your Guests
- Be a Considerate Guest
- Think Twice Before Asking for Favors
- Refrain from Idle Complaints
- Accept and Give Constructive Criticism
- Respect the Environment and Be Gentle to Animals
- Don’t Shift Responsibility and Blame
As more and more campuses embark upon formal or informal “civility campaigns,” chances are that they’ll end up becoming much nicer places to be.