Bring civility to campus

Students and faculty members enjoyed homemade soup and good conversation on Wednesday in the HUB.  The title of the meeting “Soup and Substance” provided an environment to discuss building a more civil and inclusive community at Sonoma State University. 

The HUB was designed for meetings that foster an environment on campus that can be filled with mutual respect and appreciation of those who are a part of it. 

“We are hoping to engage civility among students in this three-part meeting series,” said Rosa Serratto.

The idea for the series started after there was a racial graffiti incident in the dorms a few weeks ago.

The three-part series suggested started with the first part which focused on close circle civility. This means understanding and creating civility among individuals, close friend groups and roommates. 

 The second part of the series encourages students to look outside their circle and promote civility around Sonoma State, Rohnert Park and even the state of California.  The last part of the series would encourage students to promote civility on a global scale. 

“I think the reason civility is lacking at Sonoma State is because it is not understood,” said Austin Dillon, a Residential Area coordinator. “We need to get people educated and start sparking conversations about it.”

Students at the meeting tried to define civility. Most of them agreed that one should treat another the way they wish to be treated. They said that each person should be aware that the way one treats another can affect the other’s personal thoughts and feelings.  Everyone at the meeting agreed that there needed to be a common goal to want a civil environment in order to actually create one.

The leaders of the meeting brought out an intersections board, which had different categories that defined people and generated values and ideals. The categories included; race, socioeconomic status, gender, sexuality, spirituality, personal abilities, generational and regional factors.  Meeting goers discussed how all of these could affect why people make certain choices. They discussed how individuals could react to those things in a way that is civil. 

At the meeting, different possible scenarios that can happen between roommates were talked about. 

For example, dealing with a roommate that does not understand personal space, and how one could deal with that in a civil way, or a situation where a roommate has started eating less and how to bring it up in conversation to confront their roommate in a non-attacking way.

“A lot of times, individuals want someone else to take care of their problems so it can be less awkward,” said CSA Matt Lindenberg. “The problem with that is having someone else solve your problems will only make your relationship with that person more awkward.” 

Lindenberg told the STAR that he deals with a lot of on-campus residents who expect him to solve all their roommate problems. 

“It’s more important to have open communication between roommates because it can strengthen [the] bond and create a healthier living environment,” said Lindenberg.

Meeting goers seemed to have a positive outlook afterwards and discussed how they were going to work on civility in their own living situations and friend groups.  

The point of the meeting was to understand that everyone has a reason behind their choices and that individuals can change their reactions and quick judgments.

It has yet to be decided when the other two parts of the series on civility will take place.  However, keep looking at the HUB’s Facebook page or information page on sonoma.edu to find out when to attend following meetings about this issue.