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Memo: Addressing Incivility Cases On Campus

This assignment was for my COMM 362 Public Relations Writing course. My team and I were tasked with putting together a memo to address incivility to President Virjee of Cal State Fullerton. (Click the link below for a PDF version of this memo)

Date: July 05, 2020

To: Framroze Virjee

From:  Brianna Hicks

CSUF Student Incivility Reduction Task Force

Associated Students

Subject: Increasing awareness about incivility cases on campus

Our committee seeks your help with an important issue. The CSU Academic Senate to “reduce the number of faculty complaints about student incivility in our classrooms as much as possible.” We are the student committee appointed by Associated Students. Our mission is to gather data related to the increase in incivility situations occurring at school to create clear objectives and plans to achieve this goal.

To ensure we are approaching this matter carefully, our team wants to define incivility as “a rude or impolite attitude or behavior.” Campus incivility mostly occurs in three specific areas, such as:

  • Expectations for classroom behavior:
    • Inattentiveness, coming unprepared for class, interrupting others who are speaking, and disrespect for faculty authority.
  • Grading procedures and evaluation:
    • Hostility concerning grades and how they are determined/cheating behavior
  • Course content:
    • Students’ negative attitudes and comments about the discipline of study especially impactful in humanities and social sciences courses where students encounter information likely to challenge their worldview, value system, social behavior, and identity

At Cal State Fullerton, campus incivility can negatively affect the overall well-being of students and faculty. President Virjee, in your five-year strategic plan, we strive to “embrace inclusivity, consultation, collaboration, and transparency, to bring all Titans into the deliberative process.” If nothing is done to address campus incivility issues, the conflict will lead to a hostile environment and damage the university’s reputation as well as the public’s perspective.

Good public relations and strategic communications achieve the goals listed in the company or institution’s mission statements and values. The increasing incivility cases will become a public relations issue for the university because the students and faculty believe you are not accomplishing the goals you had set, as well as our university’s value.

Campus incivility needs to be acted on positively. Attacking a negative issue with more negativity will only bring more problems than solutions, including insufficient results and bad public images on the university itself. We are committed to working for a positive working environment where students and faculty may sit and discuss areas of difficulty to suit each student’s path of education better. These efforts may create a better student/faculty relationship, decreasing the overall incivil student attitude. By approaching this issue as more of a “problem” rather than an “opportunity”, the community may begin to see the campus community as disinterested in the student experience. 

Our solutions will bring the campus community together by bringing in all groups of people to discuss and understand issues, making this issue a vital opportunity to better the classroom life for students and faculty. This may create a more inclusive environment for all different kinds of students. 

To address campus incivility, we have to create safe spaces and outlets for students and faculty to share their experiences and concerns. President Virjee, the methods we can implement to achieve these goals can involve:

  • Hosting campus incivility workshops for students and faculty
  • Conducting surveys and polls about campus incivility to gather the thoughts and experiences of faculty and students
  • Including a section in each syllabus about campus incivility
  • Developing programs or other resources to increase awareness about campus incivility

With a diverse student body, some might oppose our project on different spectrums. 

Depending on personal perspectives, an act of “incivility” might be deemed as usual. Therefore, the increased incidents are insignificant, and the project is not necessary. On the other hand, some students might feel the project as a threat to their freedom and rights. There will be arguments regarding the student incivility is a response to the faculties. Without allowing them to voice their concern, it can be an infringement on a student’s power.

Because this issue is a potential public relations crisis to the school, our committee is dedicated to doing our best on gathering information and reporting those findings to further assist you. The actions stem from spreading the benefits of civilized behavior to students in the university, calling for or creating programs of self-changes. Also, designing a positive learning environment which comes from professors’ effective instructions or interactions. These all can help students take their responsibilities in an open-minded manner. We work on building a courteous community that benefits students, increases their grade, powers their lectures, builds strong relationships with their professors, improves behavioral skills, and better prepares for a desired future career. We would like to meet with you in the upcoming weeks to discuss this information in more detail. 

Thank you for your time and consideration.

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