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Respect & Civility

NeighborHood values: the golden rule

Whether you're a student, a staff member, or on the faculty, YOU are a member of our NeighborHood, the Hood College community. Whether you're black or white, old or young, gay or straight, practice a religion or are an atheist, whether you're part of an ethnic minority or from a majority group, whether you are male or female, have a disability or are physically healthy, no matter who or what you are, if you're reading this, you are a piece of the mosaic that makes up the wonderful diversity of Hood. And whether you'll be here for two years or four, or a whole career, whether living in a dorm or off campus, commuting or living in Frederick, it is important, in this era of determined and unexamined self-interest and self-centeredness, for each of us to remember that treating other members of our community with civility, respect, and, yes, compassion, regardless of who they are or where they come from, is indeed, in our individual--and in our community's--interest.

The "Golden Rule" ("Treat others as you would like for them to treat you.") is easy to remember, but perhaps more difficult to apply. That intentionality of care and respect for others is the critical "oil" that helps our community in all of its diversity to run smoothly. When one person fails to consider the effects that his or her actions can have on others, and does not act intentionally and with civility and compassion, the quality of life in the entire community is degraded, perhaps just a little, but those acts of inconsideration and incivility can add up.

It is instructive to consider what it means to be a part of a community. The most important characteristic of a community is that its members interact with one another in both positive and negative ways. The English word “community” is derived from the Latin munus, meaning “gift,” and cum, meaning “together.” Thus, a community is a group of people interacting positively, together, giving “gifts” to each other—not presents, but the universally valued--and positive--gifts of civility: of responsibility, mannerliness, cooperation, of understanding, respect, tolerance, justice, and, on occasion, of forgiveness.

If you employ the reciprocity that the Golden Rule implies in your daily interactions with others, that is, if you both give and accept those “gifts” mentioned above, you are a functioning member of a community in the truest sense. And, remarkably, though it may at first seem as if only the most selfless individuals can achieve community, considering others ahead of yourself is not required. It is only necessary, in your thinking, to raise others to your own level of importance, that is, to consider them, simply because they are human, as equal to yourself in your interactions with them. It’s a win-win for everyone.

Hood College does not have "rules" mandating civility, for it understands that respect and compassion for others must come from inside of us, from our essential selves. And when they come from "who we are," they become a part of our culture. Unfortunately, today we see that civility has, in many contexts, not been widely put into practice. We see it on social media where people voice negative opinions of others, on the highways where some drive as if they're the only ones on the road, in line at the grocery store where the mother hits or curses at her misbehaving child, on the street where people use the coarsest of language when others can hear, in the park where people carelessly drop their trash, in the college classroom where a student has opted to plagiarize from the work of others, and the sad list goes on and on. If you were to stop those people and ask if they'd want to be the recipients of such treatment, most would probably say "no." It is hoped, when you are tempted to say or do something that could have a negative impact on another person, that you remember the Golden Rule and just ask yourself, "how would I feel if someone did this to me?" Hood does not require this, but it does strongly encourage it!

The College does have rules and standards that it must apply in cases where civility, respect, common decency, and good behavior have been disregarded by a member, or members, of our community. Many of these rules are mandated by the federal government or by the State of Maryland, and most of them are reflected in the document that codifies the standards that all members of the Hood community are expected to uphold: The Prevention and Resolution of Discrimination, Harassment, and Sexual Misconduct at Hood College: Board of Trustees' Policy 55 (PAR). You can view the entire policy by clicking here, or go to: Suffice it to say, that, if you are uncertain of what kinds of behavior require you to apply the values of civility that we are describing, you should read the policy, as it outlines in great detail the kinds of behavior that are unacceptable on this campus, and, indeed, in a civil society in general.

The document assures that when complaints of certain forms of uncivil behavior, including discrimination, harassment, and sexual misconduct, as defined in federal law and as described in the Policy, are lodged by members of the Hood College community alleging these behaviors by employees, students or other third parties, they will be resolved promptly and equitably, according to the procedures delineated in the Policy. These behaviors are illegal under the law, and are antithetical to the values and interactions that characterize a civil community, including Hood College.

Every day at Hood presents us with opportunities to interact on a variety of levels with different individuals and groups. Each one of these interactions is important to the person or persons on the receiving end of our communication and our actions. Let’s work hard—and with intentionality—to be part of a community where everyone feels valued and respected. Together, we are the community of Hood College. We are our NeighborHood, and we are building on a long legacy of civility and responsibility. The future is in our hands, as is that legacy, and we can continue to strengthen both by modeling the values of the Golden Rule.

The Prevention and Resolution of Discrimination, Harassment and Sexual Misconduct at Hood College: Board of Trustees' Policy 55 (PAR)
Click here for the complete text of the policy

Resources on civility

  • "Civility Efforts Seek Better Behavior on Campus" by Alan Scher Zagier, from the Huffington Post (posted November 1, 2012)
  • Choosing Civility: the Twenty-five Rules of Considerate Conduct by P.M. Forni (book, 196 pages; Hood Library Main Stacks, call number: 395 F727c)
  • In Search of Civility: Confronting Incivility on the College Campus by Kent M. Weeks (book, 155 pages; Hood Library Main Stacks, call number: 378.198 W395i 2011
  • Civility in the Digital Age: How Companies and People Can Triumph over Haters, Trolls, Bullies, and Other Jerks by Andrea Wekerle (book: 303 pages; Hood Library Main Stacks, call number: 303.69 W387c 2013)
  • Civility: A Cultural History by Benet Davetian (e-book)