CSUSM’s Civility Campaign Encourages Diversity and Empathy on Campus and in the Community


csusm civility campaign

By: Noelle Friedberg

CSUSM’s Civility Campaign is a program which was formed to promote the values of care, respect, empathy, culture and humanity on campus.

The program is run by Greg Toya and Floyd Lai, and was initiated through the Dean of Students Office, with support from the Division of Student Affairs.

There were a number of factors that led to the creation of this program. One was the rising issue of cyberbullying and the need to address it on campus. Recognition of this need led to a partnership between the Cross-Cultural Center and the Dean of Students Office in organizing a webinar on cyberbullying. Participants from the webinar were then invited to serve on the newly formed Civility Committee. A cyberbullying incident at Rutgers University involving Tyler Clementi led to the founding of a Civility Campaign at Rutgers, which informed the formation of the CSUSM Civility Campaign.

Greg Toya says the next step in creating the Campaign was to “actualize the University values of community, integrity, and inclusiveness.” The emphasis for the Campaign is informing students on anti-bullying, bystander intervention and dialogue. This is made possible through the partnership of many campus departments, student organizations and dedicated individuals. The Civility Campaign has over 2,000 students on their email list who have signed up to receive information about the campaign and its events.

The Campaign reaches out to students through presentations at Orientation and the Student Organization Leadership Conference, and through programs such as the Civility Unity event, t-shirt days and Social Justice Summit follow-up dialogues. One of the major ways they get students involved is by giving out Civility Campaign t-shirts and encouraging students to wear them on the first Tuesday of every month.

They also encourage students to nominate Civility Champions and ICONS who exhibit the positive impact of the Campaign on campus. Civility Champions are nominated by students, faculty and staff through the Civility website. Civility Champions are those who live out the values discussed in CSUSM’s definition of Civility: conducting oneself with care, respect, and empathy while acknowledging the culture and humanity of others.

ICONs are selected from the pool of current Civility Champions by showing and displaying extraordinary actions that are congruent with the Civility values of care, respect, empathy, culture and humanity. In the three years since its creation the Campaign has had 50 Civility Champion nominations, 21 Champions and 10 ICONs.

The program directors make it a point for students to learn about the diverse cultures represented at CSUSM. During last year’s t-shirt days and cultural events, students learned about Veterans Day in November and participants wrote notes to student veterans to show their appreciation. In December, students learned facts and the historical perspectives of Hanukah and played the game Dreidel. During February, which is Black History Month, participants were encouraged to dialogue about “Being a Black in America.” March is Womyn’s Herstory Month and during this month students learned biographic information about women, women of color, and lesbian and transgender women. Disability Awareness Day is in April and during this event students learned and emphasized with people with auditory and physical disabilities. Through the Civility Dialogues events, Social Justice Summit participants learned about sexism and transgender students. The program has 530 t-shirt day/cultural month and Civility Unity participants.

The Civility Campaign impacts the community of San Marcos as a whole by partnering with many community organizations such as the National Conflict Resolution Center, Art Miles and Charity Wings. Since many faculty, staff and students live in San Marcos and the surrounding North County community, the Campaign also has an impact on life outside of campus. It is a goal of the CSUSM Civility Campaign to continue collaborating with local organizations to increase its positive impact in the community, and to encourage the values of care, respect, empathy, culture and humanity.

To see the impact of Champions and ICONs on campus, please see the CSUSM Civility website:  http://www.csusm.edu/civility/championsandicons/index.html.