Kentucky Council of Churches recognizes Centre’s student-led Civility Pledge
Civil dialogue is at the heart of a liberal arts education and, in order to facilitate such discourse, members of the Centre College community are committed to maintaining a campus climate characterized by respect, compromise and understanding. Students, in particular, collectively embraced these ideals with the creation of a Civility Pledge, an effort recently recognized by the Kentucky Council of Churches (KCC).
The KCC annually honors organizations around the Commonwealth for their good works in accordance with a particular theme. This year, the KCC presented awards for civil dialogue and commended Centre for investing itself in a common cause as a College community.
The pledge, which states, “I promise to do my best, be my best, and respect the members and property of our Centre community,” was developed in the spring of 2011 by the Student Government Association to promote positive, community-oriented behavior on campus. Signing the pledge has become a sort of rite-of-passage for new students, the first step to integration into the Centre community, and so far, no one has refused to sign it.
The pledge is unique in that it was designed and implemented by students, rather than the administration. In addition, while several colleges have their students sign honor codes promising to not cheat on tests or plagiarize papers, the Civility Pledge extends far beyond that, according to SGA President Thomas Becker ’15 (pictured above, right).
“We are making a personal resolution to conduct ourselves differently; not only in the classroom but in every interaction we have at Centre,” he says.
According to Becker, the pledge encourages hard work, compassion, and, most importantly, respect to the Centre community among students.
“When we say ‘our Centre community,’ we invest ourselves into a common cause. We find ourselves with a newfound responsibility of shared ownership,” Becker said in his acceptance speech at the KCC awards banquet.
While Becker acknowledges that students may not always live up to these expectations, the pledge serves as a reminder and a goal to which students can aspire.
“While we may fall short, this is the beauty of our pledge: it calls us to a higher standard, a better way of interacting with one another. It’s a substantive embodiment of our ideals, our goals and our love for our fellow man,” says Becker.
Campus-wide support for the pledge has also been crucial to its success. Staff members in the Student Life Office were involved in promoting the pledge, and for Director of Campus Activities Kendrick Durham, the pledge exemplifies the maturity and leadership Centre students exemplify.
“In a society that is increasingly forgetting what it means to prize civil dialogue, I think it is important for Centre students to lead the way as current and future leaders. This initiative was created by students and is completely student-led, which gives it much more credibility than if it were handed down by the college administration,” Durham says.
Dean of Student Life Randy Hays echoes this sentiment.
“The civility pledge is important because it was written by students, for students—and it’s so perfectly simple. It reflects what we should ask of ourselves every day, and what we are more than capable of doing,” says Hays.
He adds, “I’m very proud of Centre students who simply live it—day in, day out. Good for them. Good for Centre.”
Read more about the KCC’s awards for civil dialogue.
Watch Becker’s acceptance speech below.
by John Ross Wyatt ’15
Photo: SGA President Thomas Becker ’15 accepts the civil dialogue award on behalf of the College from KCC First Vice President Rev. Elise Johnstone.