Show Me Respect hopes to foster civility at MU

Students are encouraged to recognize good deeds with the Yellow Button Project.

Following last week’s 2012 Diversity Summit, MU formally kicked off the Show Me Respect campaign, a campuswide effort to promote MU's core values and a culture of civility.

The Show Me Respect campaign began Oct. 29. The program aims to encourage students and staff to treat others with respect and consideration.

“We are trying to create, or maintain and improve, a culture of civility at the university,” said Noel English, Show Me Respect steering committee chairwoman and director of MU Equity for the Chancellor’s Diversity Initiative. “Everything can be improved with greater civility.”

The civility campaign was not inspired by repeated problems with disrespect at MU, but by similar programs at other universities, said Clyde Bentley, journalism professor and Show Me Respect steering committee member for Faculty Council.

“We’re almost coming from behind on this,” Bentley said. “There are lots and lots of campuses that are doing this. I think it’s one of those things that just bubbled up at an appropriate time.”

The campaign has already started several initiatives to promote its message to students, Bentley said. Its efforts include placing posters encouraging civility in residence halls and classroom buildings and beginning the Yellow Button Project, a program designed to reward good deeds.

The Yellow Button Project began at the diversity summit. One hundred yellow buttons were distributed across campus, and those with yellow buttons are asked to pass the buttons on when someone shows them kindness or respect.

“It’s about recognizing someone for doing something good,” English said.

After passing on a button, students and staff are encouraged to log onto the Show Me Respect website and record the act of kindness, English said. In the past week, 10 buttons have been logged by students, faculty and administrators.

In addition to the poster campaign and button project, the civility campaign also holds events and promotes other MU events that encourage civility and respect.

MSA senator and sophomore Ahad Hosseini said he hopes the Show Me Respect campaign will help promote diversity at MU.

“The issue of diversity is something we’ve been interested in for the past three years with the Chancellor’s Diversity Initiative and everything else,” Hosseini said. “But I feel the progress has been a little slow. You can’t really teach civility — it just has to be part of your mantra.”

Show Me Respect was designed to appeal to not only students but also the MU community, English said. The campaign’s steering committee brings together different departments of MU. Committee members include faculty, administrators, students, alumni relations and members of the athletic department and the MU Health System.

“We are a community, and we have defined our mutual goals and our values,” English said. “This (campaign) is an opportunity for everyone.”

One area in which Hosseini hopes civility can be improved is student and professor relations. Studies have shown MU students generally feel comfortable on campus but, within campus, often feel least comfortable in the classroom due to lack of communication between students and faculty on campus, he said.

The Show Me Respect project is a long-term initiative. English hopes the civility campaign will eventually be university-wide.

“(Civility) is the kind of thing we hope will institutionalize itself," English said. "I hope it will get to the point that when people see someone doing something disrespectful they will just naturally be able to say that that behavior does not represent us as a university.”

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