Cultivating Change: Planting the Seeds of Civility is an entry into this year’s Bateman Case Study Competition organized through the Ohio University’s chapter of Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA). The campaign aims to educate and garner awareness of the importance of civility in people’s everyday lives.
PRSSA is a student organization aimed at preparing public relations and journalism students for the professional world. It is associated with the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). Team members for the campaign include active OU PRSSA chapter members Managing Director Macy Cantrell, Social Media Coordinator Megan Parks, Creative Director Katherine Keber, Event Planning Director Kelly Lambers and Data Analyst Megan Gordin.
“One of Ohio University’s core values is civility,” Lambers, a junior studying strategic communication, said. “It is a core value that (OU) wants to instill within students. (This campaign) can be a great way to continue to bring awareness to that.”
Cantrell said that with everything that has happened with COVID-19 and U.S. politics this past year, everyone has such different opinions and it has caused so much disagreement in the country. A big part of civility is to recognize and accept that rather than ignoring them or trying to change their mind.
“Learning skills now before entering the workplace can be really valuable to students,” Cantrell, a junior studying strategic communication, said.
The campaign has hosted multiple events already, both in-person and virtual. The kick off event, “Let’s Grow Together,” took place at Baker University Center on Feb. 9. Students were given free flowers from local business Hyacinth Bean Florist.
On Feb. 17, the campaign held a “Plant the Seed in Politics Panel” featuring OU Democrats, OU Moderates and OU Republicans. The discussion centered around practicing civility in the current political climate. Another event that helped bring people together and spark some discussions about creating civil change was “Civility on Tap” at Jackie O’s Taproom on Feb. 20.
The next event, Cultivating Change x Scripps PRSSA Publicity Committee Social Media Workshop will take place on Zoom Thursday, Feb. 25 at 7 p.m. The Scripps PRSSA Publicity Committee is teaming up with the Cultivating Change Campaign team to host a workshop for anyone interested in learning how to practice civility and combat incivility on social media.
Lambers said the publicity committee will offer tips and tricks for people to learn professionalism on social media. There will be breakout groups and attendees will learn how to respond through given scenarios of situations.
Future events include an Instagram takeover of the OU accounts on Friday, Feb. 26. The campaign team will be educating all students about civility as well as implementing activities throughout the day to bring awareness to incivility.
Wednesday, March 3 on Twitter there will be a chat regarding mental health. There are a few other events in the works, potentially a trivia night and an alumni panel. People can keep up to date through the campaign’s event calendar.
Keber said it is important for people to respect each other. Being aware of that decreases the chances of creating mental health issues or wellness problems for others.
“People can change little daily behaviors to be more civil and potentially have a more positive impact on other people’s well-being,” Keber, a junior studying strategic communication, said. “I would recommend people check their behaviors, watch what they are doing and make a concerted effort to change that to respect their peers and professors and know that this situation is difficult for everybody.”
Keber, Cantrell and Lambers agree that practicing civility is as easy as turning on the camera, actively listening and responding and putting away the phone while attending virtual classes. Other than attending the events, the best way to get involved is to take The Pledge, a virtual promise to being civil and growing personal behavior.
“I encourage everyone to take the pledge to plant the seed of civility in their own lives,” Keber said. “It helps (you) to reflect on what civility means and how (you) can help create a more civil world in the future.”
Cultivating Change OU can be found on TikTok, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. The hashtag for the campaign is #PlantTheSeedOU. There is also a blog with information and tips on topics like maintaining civility in interviews and civility through proper Zoom etiquette.
“We want to cultivate change on campus,” Lambers said. “If we plant a seed in someone they can start to grow and blossom. Right now in the current culture and living in a global pandemic, everything is disconnected and everyone doesn’t have the opportunity to be with people or in a normal classroom setting, or student org or internship, but it is still so important we are learning there are so many ways that civility can be practiced in our everyday lives.”
Clarification appended: A previous version of this article contained a headline that was misleading. The headline has been updated ot reflect the most accurate information.