GCC’s Civility Week inspires students

By: Emily Balli

Glendale Community College held the always-inspiring Civility Week, from Nov. 3 through Nov. 7. Civility Week is a week full of inspiring discussions, events, activities and lectures that revolve around the idea of being civil with one another in society despite differences. On each day, about three or four events would take place on GCC’s main campus in the Student Union.

The events that took place during Civility Week were a great learning opportunities for GCC students and faculty alike. The speakers equipped those that attended the events with many great tools to use in the real world when it comes to being civil, polite and respectful with one another.

Civility Week Sign outside of the Student Union  Photo Taken By: Emily Balli
Civility Week Sign outside of the Student Union
Photo Taken By: Emily Balli

With such great diversity among GCC students, Civility Week has proven to be a very beneficial event that many students feel has helped them not only learn more about themselves, but also become more open minded when it comes to communicating with other people.

This year, there were many passionate speakers who gave talks which not only focused on civility but also on themes like communication, resolving conflict, forgiveness and empathy.

The first day of Civility Week kicked off on Monday, Nov. 3 with a lecture from Dr. Matthew Whitaker, an ASU faculty member who spoke about civil public discourse throughout history in his discussion titled “Can’t We All Just Get Along? – Historicizing Civil Discourse.”

Following Whitaker, the founder of the Social Centric Institute, Calvin Terrell, discussed “Conflict and Communication” and how it relates to civility. He engaged those who attended with his passionate speech. He also tried to get the attendees to take a step back and think about communication and respecting and understanding different perspectives.

Calvin Terrell speaking during Civility Week in "Conflict and Communication"  Photo Taken By: Emily Balli
Calvin Terrell speaking during Civility Week in “Conflict and Communication”
Photo Taken By: Emily Balli

Many were moved and inspired by Terrell’s discussion, “I thought his discussion was really mind blowing and inspirational…I agree with what he said when he said that we have to set our egos aside and focus on the big picture when communicating with others,” said GCC student, Cindy Madris.

The second day of the event began with “What is Your Civility Brain Color?” led by GCC Counseling Department faculty member, Laura Dodrill. Students discovered how they communicate with others based on Sheila N. Glazov’s book, “What Color is Your Brain.” Shelby Froke, a GCC student who attended the activity said, “The civility brain color event was really interesting. It helped provide a nice look into how other people or ‘colors’ feel and interpret things.”

On Nov. 5, the day began with a combination of discussion, theatrical performance, poetry and music that explored the Civil Rights Movement and racial prejudice in the 1960s in, “He Called it a Dream, but it Woke Us Up!” presented by Rod Ambrose.

After “He Called it a Dream, but it Woke Us Up!” two more discussions took place. The first was entitled “Horizontal Hostility Defined” from GCC Communication faculty, Dr. Celeste Walls, and the second, presented by Dr. Sylvia Manlove was, “Drama and Trauma: Dealing with Difficult and Challenging People.”

On Nov. 6, GCC Communication faculty members Dr. Jim Reed, Kim Feld and Michelle Jackson gave students a look into what it would be like to create laws, and distribute the worlds wealth and power in “Wealth & Power: Civility in an Uncivil Environment”.

The second event of the day, “The Forgiveness Tree,” presented by ASU faculty members Dayna Kloeber, Dr. Doug Kelley and Dr. Vince Waldron, showed those that attended the benefits of forgiveness as an alternative to bitterness or anger.

The final event on Nov. 6 was presented by GCC Communication faculty member Kirt Shineman. “Hot Topics, Cool Heads: Policing, Violence and Racism,” allowed students to come up and express their opinions openly about two controversial statements. The first statement was, “Law enforcement should be permitted to use racial profiling in the U.S. to ensure safety of the general public,” and the second statement was, “Euthanasia (assisted suicide) should be legal in Arizona.” For each statement, five students went to the front of the room and would each talk for a minute to vocalize their opinion on the matter. The event focused on having civil dialogue and respecting one another even if someone might have a different outlook on something.

Kirt Shineman speaking to students during "Hot Topics, Cool Heads: Polcing, Violence and Racism" at Civility Week on Nov. 6. Photo Taken By: Emily Balli
Kirt Shineman speaking to students during “Hot Topics, Cool Heads: Polcing, Violence and Racism”at Civility Week on Nov. 6. Photo Taken By: Emily Balli

Civility Week ended on Friday, Nov. 7, with another discussion presented by Professor Kirt Shineman called, “I’m Sorry. The Art of Apology,” that focused on public apologies and which method of apologizing is the most effective.

Afterwards, Rwandan refugee, Agnes Umuligirwa, spoke about being a survivor of genocide and what it’s like to lose everything and start a life in a new community in, “Surviving Genocide: Race, Ethnicity, Immigration and Thriving after Great Loss.”

Overall, Civility Week had a great turnout this year, and many students and faculty enjoyed the experience and hope it will continue to happen for years to come.

Like many other students that attended Civility Week, GCC student, Cindy Madris, felt as though she really got a lot from attending Civility Week, and that it really opened her eyes, “If there was another Civility Week I would go to it. I like to think of myself as a really open-minded person and listening to Calvin Terrell and other speakers talk about civility made me realize that I was more narrow-minded than I thought. The discussions also made me focus on coming together as one by learning about people’s differences. We have to embrace our differences to come together and become one big family.”

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