Lake Superior State University
Lake Superior State University
 
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Ben Mitchell

Ben Mitchell
Mechanical Engineering '06

Ben Mitchell grew up in a devout household in the central Upper Peninsula of Michigan where emphasis was placed on helping others. He traveled with his father to places such as Kenya and Peru on short-term medical missions. When he was in Kenya, a missionary explained that engineers have the greatest potential to influence the largest number of people. During high school, Ben participated in a youth mission trip to Tijuana. A result of the mission trips, his family decided to adopt three Vietnamese children when he was a junior.

All of these experiences had a great influence on Ben’s outlook on life. He decided to major in mechanical engineering and enrolled at Lake Superior State University. Near the end of his senior year, he decided to volunteer for the Peace Corps to help others.

His two-year commitment began in the fall of 2007 and took Ben to Burkina Faso in western Africa. He resides in the village of Tansila, population 3,000, approximately 10 km from the Mali border. His host organization is the local cotton growers union. It works cooperatively with other villages to improve and expand their production techniques. He serves as an agribusiness advisor as a part of the Small Enterprise Development program which helps create market linkages and assists with the advancement of business skills.

Parents at Lake State

“We have a choice about how we behave, and that means we have the choice to opt for civility and grace.”

  • Dwight Currie

Civility on Campus

Is “rude and crude” on its way out?

A culture of civility. What does that expression mean to you? Could it be a culture where:

  • People return shopping carts to the appropriate area instead of leaving them in the middle of a parking lot?
  • You regularly let others into lines of traffic?
  • A fellow passenger asks you what floor you need to go to and pushes the elevator button for you?
  • People don’t engage in complaint-fests?
  • Students don’t eat disruptively throughout classes or have numerous side conversations during meetings?
  • You get warning from the person in front of you before they lean their airplane seat back?
  • Rumors and gossip are not the norm?

An increasing number of campus conversations are centering on issues of civility. Faculty are concerned by student behavior in class and by students who “get in their face.” Rude comments and gossip circles concern students. Staff feel caught in the crosshairs of “supervisor bashing” or dealing with increasingly uncivil phone calls. In short, a growing culture of rudeness is a growing campus concern.

In his book, Choosing Civility (2002), Dr. P.M. Forni, the cofounder of the Johns Hopkins Civility Project and a professor of Italian literature at the university, explores not just manners or politeness but civility. “Being civil,” he writes, “means being constantly aware of others and weaving restraint, respect, and consideration into the very fabric of this awareness.”

Dr. Forni shares The 25 Rules of Considerate Conduct, many of which may seem like common sense yet offer a nudge for us all to be more civil beings. His rules include:

  1. Pay Attention
  2. Acknowledge Others
  3. Think the Best
  4. Listen
  5. Be Inclusive
  6. Speak Kindly
  7. Don’t Speak Ill
  8. Accept and Give Praise
  9. Respect Even a Subtle “No”
  10. Respect Others’ Opinions
  11. Mind Your Body
  12. Be Agreeable
  13. Keep It Down (and Rediscover Silence)
  14. Respect Other People’s Time
  15. Respect Other People’s Space
  16. Apologize Earnestly
  17. Assert Yourself
  18. Avoid Personal Questions
  19. Care for Your Guests
  20. Be a Considerate Guest
  21. Think Twice Before Asking for Favors
  22. Refrain from Idle Complaints
  23. Accept and Give Constructive Criticism
  24. Respect the Environment and Be Gentle to Animals
  25. Don’t Shift Responsibility and Blame

As more and more campuses embark upon formal or informal “civility campaigns,” chances are that they’ll end up becoming much nicer places to be.

Majoring in Sociology...

Carrie McBride

Carrie McBride
Sociology
Caro, MI

I love the small tight-knit community on campus.You always see someone you know while walking to class.Your professors know you on a first name basis. [ more ]

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