Civility – the practice of treating one another in a respectful manner – is crucial in any community, especially a college campus. But sometimes it doesn’t come naturally. For various reasons, at times students either intentionally or unintentionally offend one another. In an effort to cultivate a culture in which people are more civil in their approach to one another, UNM President Robert G. Frank created the Civil Campus Council in August 2013 and named Dr. Tomás A. Aguirre, Dean of Students, as its chair.

“At UNM, we strive to create and maintain an environment that is free of harassment, intimidation and/or humiliation for all students, faculty and staff,” Frank said. “Students have a right to seek and obtain an education without facing racial discrimination and harassment. Such behavior has no place on this campus and will not be tolerated.”

The Civil Campus Council is made up of faculty, staff, students, administrators and other partners from the entire campus community including the Health Science Center, Athletics and the School of Law. After establishing mission and vision statements, the group created a working definition of civility and designed CommUNITY as its campaign.

One of the group’s first goals is to identify all that UNM does to support civility and to address acts of incivility on campus. The Council is requesting that all departments take part in a civility survey to collect data to determine what UNM is already doing to promote civility and what the University needs to do better to discourage incivility. Visit the CommUNITY website to find out more about the mission and vision. The survey will be emailed to the UNM community this month and will continue through March. Results are expected by the end of spring 2014.

Other initiatives include a monthly Civility Speaker Series developed to explore a broad range of perspectives and to practice civility in a safe space. Five such lectures were held during the fall and three are planned for the spring semester. The next one is in conjunction with Black History Month. The Council is joining UNM’s African American Student Services in hosting "What's Up, My 'N'" on Thursday, Feb. 6 from noon to 1 p.m. in the SUB atrium.  A panel will look at and discuss the use of the "N" word in contemporary society.

“Civility is what allows speech to be heard,” Aguirre said. “The values that hold us together as a university – including civility, diversity and respect – are the foundation of the learning environment we provide.”

The group is also planning an annual Student “Civil Leadership” Institute that will be open to all students this semester and will include guest speakers and workshops that focus on activism, grassroots organizing, coalition building, and civil engagement.