Wednesday, September 2, 2009

FORMAL PROPOSAL: Proposed Principles for Respectful Engagement

Support our Legitimacy

The Experimental College is… well, experimental, because students are coming together to learn from each other and decide on curriculum, but as students of the College, we must be diligent and hard working in order to be sure we can continue this project beyond this semester. There will be guidelines and assignments to fulfill the requirements of an Independent Study; the real work will be go far beyond that, taking the form of organizing, consciousness raising and personal/group development in our community on campus and our communities beyond campus. Every student must be accountable to themselves and the group, by working to contribute and make our experiment a success. Some students will be evaluating the work of the College as a final project. Everyone will be required to reflect on their experience in a final paper.

Safety and Confidentiality
Seek to create an open atmosphere where people feel free to share without being attacked. If you want your remarks to be kept confidential, you may want to preface or amend your comments as such.

Listen Respectfully

Assume that everyone is will do their best to learn from each other. Listen carefully for others' meanings. Don't judge others' intentions. At least, do not interrupt and raise your hand to indicate you want to talk. Use reflective listening to let others' know how you interpret what they said and allow them to confirm or correct your interpretation. (Ex. "What I hear you saying is that.... Is that what you meant?)

Speak Carefully
This course involves topics of politicized and personal detail. As you share and ask questions, try to express yourself in ways that do not attack, incite or blame others. Agree to disagree, reflect, suspend your own beliefs and practice stepping back/stepping up depending on your usual style of participation.

Seek to Learn
Ask questions in neutral tones and seek to understand people's perspectives, meanings and underlying assumptions before challenging others. Ask "What led you to believe... What do you mean when you say..."

Speak from Your Perspective

You are invited to advocate your position, but know that others may not agree and you don't have the total truth. Use personal statements ("I feel... I believe") so that others may also have their right to hold their feelings and belief.

Acknowledge Oppression Exists

Stereotypes, denial, misinformation, silencing and marginalization are processes of oppression. Aim to eliminate oppressive inter-group dynamics by seeking to include everyone and valuing their contributions. Consider sharing and reflecting on your own experiences of both privilege and oppression when engaging in discussion. Respect intersectionality and the multiplicity of people's identities and experiences. "Yes, and" as well as "both/and" may be useful in seeking to be inclusive.

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