Wayland emphasizes civility in chapel

September 16, 2013

PLAINVIEW -- Wayland Baptist University addressed the issue of civility in its weekly chapel service on Wednesday in Harral Auditorium.

Entitled “Wayland the Barbarian,” Dr. Marti Runnels, Dean of the School of Fine Arts, said the theme and title of the service was meant to make students, faculty and staff “think about things large or small that you might do that may make people think you are a little less than civil.”

Wayland theatre students performed a number of scenes dealing with uncivilized behavior. The group addressed issues such as littering, gossiping, making fun of other beliefs, mocking people’s style of worship, rude behavior, disrupting class and even disrupting chapel service. Video clips of people discussing classroom behavior and workforce behavior also were used to make a point.

Following the performances, Dr. Estelle Owens, Dean of the School of Behavioral and Social Sciences, Dr. Otto B. Schacht, Dean of the School of Business, and Dr. Jim Todd, Dean of the School of Education, gave a faculty response, discussing their thoughts on civility.

Dr. Owens said the performance impressed upon her how widespread incivility can be. She said there are probably only two places in which you don’t have to behave in a civil manner and those would be when you are dead, or when deserted on an island with no other inhabitants. In those instances, “we can behave any way we like.”

One particular scene depicted students behaving rudely while a chapel service was taking place on stage.

“When we are rude,” Owens said, “those of us who claim Jesus as Lord crucify him all over again.”

Many of the scenes showed the impact one’s actions have on other people. Dr. Schacht challenged students, asking rhetorically how one replaces an inappropriate action.
“The actions we express to others cannot be taken back any easier than the words we speak,” he said.

Dr. Todd said there typically are three reasons people behave in an uncivilized manner: to get attention, to gain power, or to hurt someone else out of anger.

“I think the goal of civility is to pray, think and listen and ask ourselves who we want to be,” Todd said.

Dr. Owens summarized things, reminding students that while they each have rights, their actions affect those around them, and that must be taken into consideration.
“There is no such thing as unlimited rights in a civilized society,” she said.

The theatre department will present a follow-up chapel service in the spring, looking at the positive aspects of civility.