Wayland stresses civility on campus

September 16, 2013

PLAINVIEW -- Wayland Baptist University is continuing an emphasis on civility that began last fall with a charge of University President Dr. Paul Armes. In the fall of 2012, Dr. Armes challenged faculty, staff and students to make choices based on civil behavior.

In a follow-up to the President’s message, a special spring chapel service was held at which time students were broken into small groups to discuss civility with faculty and staff representatives. Those group discussions prompted feedback that was used to craft a University Civility Statement.

The emphasis on civility has carried over into the 2013-14 academic year as Wayland continues to stress the importance of civil behavior to students, faculty and staff throughout the university. On Wednesday, a special chapel service will be held featuring vignettes performed by students to illustrate situations where people behave in an uncivilized manner toward each other. These vignettes will be followed by faculty responses to the situations. The fall chapel service will be followed by a special spring service that will focus on positive civil behavior, along with faculty responses.

Wayland Baptist University Executive Vice President and Provost Dr. Bobby Hall said the civility emphasis is extremely important to the life of the university.

“We believe at Wayland that our role is to not only educate students academically, but also holistically, and we also are called upon to look at ourselves,” Hall said. “If we look at American society today, we have seen an increase in behavior that is unacceptable. That isn’t limited to students; it’s all of us.”

Wednesday’s chapel content is being organized by Dr. Marti Runnels, Dean of the School of Fine Arts. He said that when he originally met with students about the idea, he was shocked at how open and honest his theatre students were during the discussion. One of those students is Lillie Cooper, a sophomore music major from Lubbock.

“In a lot of the things we do on a regular basis, we don’t think about it, but we are so rude sometimes and we don’t consider it,” Cooper said.

Cooper said the original discussion about content turned to specific examples, everything from more widely recognized acts of incivility to somewhat simpler things such as being rude to the people who work in the cafeteria.

“We were so shocked when we really thought about it, but things like being nice to the maintenance workers, cafeteria workers and groundskeepers,” Cooper said. “They are people. They do something that is really important. If they weren’t here, we’d be sorry.”
Along with the targeted chapel content, Wayland has posted signage around campus to keep civility in the forefront of peoples’ thoughts. Posters bearing a Listen-Think-Pray theme have been posted around campus.

Each poster includes a scripture reference to Biblical passages from the book of James that deal with that particular issue. The Think poster uses James 1:19-20 as its reference, stating “My brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.”

The scripture chosen for the Think emphasis is James 3: 17-18: “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.”

The final scripture reference is James 5:15-16 that says: “And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.”

Hall said the message has been well-received across campus and Wayland will continue to make civility a priority for the school. Cooper agreed, saying it is important for students to behave in a civil manner if they ever hope to achieve their goals once they leave school.

“Your track record speaks for itself,” she said.