San Marcos,
11:39 AM

Let's Engage: Civility Campaign Re-energized

By Whitney Frasier

The Civility Campaign at Cal State University San Marcos (CSUSM) has been re-energized this fall with a new tagline, “Civil Discourse: Let’s Engage.” The campus-wide initiative strives to create a culture that engages in civil discourse both inside and outside the classroom.

This academic year, the campaign will focus on campus-wide, co-curricular learning opportunities that emphasize building skills and providing tools for engagement.

“The purpose of the campaign is to engage CSUSM students, faculty and staff in learning opportunities to create a community that navigates social justice issues and multiple perspectives through self-reflection, care, respect and empathy while acknowledging the culture and humanity of others,” said Nick Mortaloni, CARE Manager in the Dean of Students Office and Lecturer in the School of Social Work.

The campaign committee is made up of representatives from several divisions, including those from Student Life & Leadership, the University Student Union, Community Engagement and the Office of Diversity and Educational Equity & Inclusion.

“A common misunderstanding of the Civility Campaign is that civil discourse involves everyone agreeing or having the same opinion, or avoiding difficult conversations with diverse perspectives,” Mortaloni said. “On the contrary, the CSUSM Civility Campaign strongly believes that civil discourse involves trying both to understand and be understood. It involves engaging in dialogues that try to uncover multiple perspectives rather than becoming entrenched in either thinking. And most importantly, civil discourse is an integral aspect of the learning process for all members of the campus community.”

For this reason, faculty engagement with the Civility Campaign is a primary focus of the campus-wide committee this year. By following the principles of civility inside and outside the classroom, students and faculty are able to focus on the learning process without being distracted by uncivil behaviors.

Faculty members from each college are already utilizing new faculty resources in their classrooms provided by the campaign. These resources include the Civility Faculty Resource List – a list of articles and other online resources about civility in higher education; and the Civility and Classroom Agreements Exercise PowerPoint – a customizable and easy-to-use PowerPoint to guide students to create classroom agreements. Some professors are even giving assignment credit to students who join in on the conversations and events.

“We are excited to offer a series of civility events this fall that are open to the entire campus community,” Mortaloni said. “The Civility Café Series aims to provide opportunities to learn skills needed to engage in civil discourse, and the Civility Dialogues are opportunities for the CSUSM community to practice civil discourse.”

All event participants will receive a shirt to wear on future Civility T-shirt Days, the first Tuesday of every month.

“The Civility Campaign truly is a campus-wide initiative and we hope that by participating in upcoming civility events, our campus community will strengthen our commitment to engaging in civil discourse,” Mortaloni said.

Civility Café Series

Tips and Strategies for Engaging in Difficult Discussions

Friday, Sept. 23
University Student Union, AB
3 to 4 p.m.

Creating Change through Conversations

Thursday, Oct. 20
University Student Union, AB
5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Navigating Controversy with Civility

Monday, Nov. 21
University Student Union, AB
5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Civility Dialogues

Politics and Identity

Tuesday, Oct. 4
University Student Union, 3400
11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Politics and Ballot Initiatives

Tuesday, Nov. 1
University Student Union, 3400
11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Politics and Religion

Tuesday, Dec. 6
University Student Union, 3400
11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

For more information, visit the civility website.