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Saturday, October 20, 2018

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Civil Core works to enhance the university experiences of their fellow students through encouraging volunteerism, involvement in college-wide activities and unity. Civil Core works to enhance the university experiences of their fellow students through encouraging volunteerism, involvement in college-wide activities and unity.

Be Civil, Pass it On

The Civil Core is working to bring civility to SDSU.
By Melissa Buendia

Since 2008, Civil Core, a student organization at San Diego State University, has been taking steps to spread an attitude of community, kindness and positivity throughout the Aztec campus.

The idea to establish an organization based on volunteerism originated from Randi Mckenzie, the College of Professional Studies & Fine Arts’ assistant dean for student affairs. Mckenzie had a vision of greater opportunities for students to engage in leadership and service to the college.

“It came from the realization of how powerful mentoring activities are when students help each other,” Mckenzie said.

Mentality of mentorship

The goals and objectives of the group, including a mentality of mentorship, are truly encompassed in the organization’s name: Civil Core.

“We want to promote civil engagement, positive behaviors and kindness on campus. The name of the organization came as we were discussing what civility means,” Mckenzie said.

The discussion led to a play on the word “corps” by changing its spelling to “core.” Mckenzie, along with the founding members, wanted the name to be an indication of the characteristics shared among the students of the organization’s membership.

“You are decent within. You are civil to your guts, to your core,” Mckenzie said.

Civil Core functions within the College of Professional Studies & Fine Arts, but maintains campus-wide missions and goals to bring students, faculty and staff closer together. The organization works to enhance the university experiences of their fellow students through encouraging volunteerism, involvement in college-wide activities and unity.

Civility is contagious

Mckenzie believes through student-to-student mentorship a community of students can develop an attitude of “paying it forward.”

Brianna Connelly, a transfer and graphic design student, learned about Civil Core through an invitation to join the group because of her high academic achievements. Connelly said the group is one she is learning and growing from.

“Being a transfer student, I only knew two people coming into SDSU. When I read the description about what Civil Core actually was, I knew this was the organization for me. Civil Core allows me to help new students just as I was helped as a transfer student,” Connelly said.

Connelly is a prime example of one of Civil Core’s main functions. The group works as a guiding hand for freshman, transfer and international students during their transition into the university lifestyle.

Lauren Flynn, journalism student and current president of Civil Core, joined her sophomore year because she loved the idea of making the campus a better place.

“I hadn’t found anything that made me feel connected to SDSU and I thought Civil Core would be a group to do that. It definitely has done that for me,” Flynn said.

Becoming a member

Civil Core bases membership standards similar to that of an honor society in terms of academics. Members are to maintain at least a 3.0 grade point average and are required to provide a faculty recommendation as a part of the application process.  This high achievement aspect of the organization identifies students in the College of PSFA that are role models of their college.

Mckenzie believes this high-achievement aspect of the organization identifies students that not only possess a desire to help others, but can also balance a successful academic lifestyle. These qualities are what make Civil Core members able to function as mentors in their college community.

Be Civil Campaign

In combination with personal experiences of being helped by others throughout her life and having been inspired by a group of students from Virginia Tech that banded together after a shooting on its campus to create a group called Students Actively Caring, Mckenzie conceived the idea of Civil Core’s campus-wide initiative: the Be Civil Campaign.

The premise of the campaign is to recognize and encourage acts of civility and create a domino effect of kindness and positive behaviors in the SDSU community.

“The Be Civil Campaign has become the face of Civil Core and can be recognized campus-wide. We strive to make SDSU feel like a smaller campus by reintroducing civility and encouraging random acts of kindness,” Connelly said.

The ongoing campaign begins with a green “civility” bracelet. The bracelets are available to everyone and can be found in green bowls located in various locations across campus. Participating in the movement is as simple as engaging in or witnessing a small act of thoughtfulness occurring on campus.

The idea is that a bracelet is passed on to an individual that initiated the gesture and that person is encouraged to do the same if and when they witness another random act of kindness.

Those who pass the bracelet to someone are encouraged to share their experience on the Be Civil Campaign’s Facebook page.

The hope for the campaign is to reach every single member in the Aztec community, including faculty and staff. SDSU’s President, Elliot Hirshman, recognizes the Be Civil Campaign and supports its message.

“The bracelets remind us that the exchange of ideas in a respectful spirit of inquiry is at the heart of the learning experience,” Hirshman said.

In a generation constantly involved in mobile devices, the Be Civil Campaign is a way to encourage positive interactions and develop a communal sense of Aztec identity — a mission Civil Core is proud to exemplify.  

Civility is Contagious