As UR students, we are rarely ever satisfied with our successes. This “Meliora” spirit is no less true for the goal of fostering a cohesive campus community. When fellow students seem indifferent toward communal goals, or don’t fully identify themselves with the UR community, we take notice. As chief justice of the All-Campus Judicial Council (the judicial branch of student government that hears disciplinary cases), I’ve seen my fair share of this.

Additionally, I’ve seen the incredible potential for us to recognize and ameliorate any such shortcomings. The Communal Principles Project is a reflection of this potential, but we students haven’t capitalized on this momentum to shape the campus culture for ourselves. Though building a stronger and more responsible community seems like an abstract goal, there are a few tangible steps you can take to make a significant impact.

“Responsibility” is this year’s principle. As I see it, there are two sides to this coin: reactive and proactive. We typically consider reactive responsibility in this context. It’s taking ownership of all your past actions and making things right. While openly and honestly atoning for past mistakes is certainly vital, however, those of us in ACJC can’t help but think that many of the cases could’ve been avoided.

This is the second side of the coin: active responsibility. Have no doubts — preventing and avoiding negative behavior is incredibly effective in promoting a healthy community. Here is where taking a few reasonable steps can palpably change the student culture for the better.

First, learn more about current policy and recent updates at UR. There are plenty of opportunities to familiarize yourself with the ongoing conversation and contribute your own questions and concerns. You can talk to anyone in ACJC or set up a meeting with an administrator in order to get your voice heard.

Second, frequently reevaluate your situation. We can all benefit from a fresh perspective, so take a step back to compare your behavior to your expectations for yourself and the expectations of the larger community. Often, students in our hearings admit that at the time they saw nothing wrong with what they were doing, and only after going through the conduct process did they realize they were out of line. Whenever you’re out on a Friday night, or collaborating with a friend on a project, take ten seconds to think about the assumptions you’re making. Are you putting yourself in unnecessary danger? Are you bordering on academic dishonesty? Developing this instinct could one day stop you from doing something really stupid.

Responsibility is not some unattainable ideal or merely some word to be aimlessly tossed around; it’s a particular quality that can only be attained through conscious consideration. It’s a pursuit that merits your attention as an individual, and requires our attention as a community.  In just a few simple steps, you can educate and empower yourself to make a difference. I implore you to consider it.

Cutillo is a member of the class of 2013.




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