Feb. 24 kicked off the Principles of Community week at UC Davis. The event, which occurs annually near the end of February, serves as an opportunity for students and faculty alike to facilitate the growth of a community respectful of people’s differences as well as to evaluate how well the UC Davis community follows our Principles of Community.
The UC Davis Principles of Community (POC) state: “We recognize that each of us has an obligation to the community of which we have chosen to be a part. We will strive to build a true community of spirit and purpose based on mutual respect and caring.”
The week allows students the opportunity to collaborate among themselves in order to fulfill the mission of the POC. Planned in conjunction with ASUCD, student organizations and graduate coalitions, POC week gave students the ability to establish a deeper connection with their own cultural heritage and also to increase their awareness of outside cultures.
“It means creating opportunities for us to connect,” said Mikael Villalobos, the Administrator of Diversity Education in the Office of Campus Community Relations at UC Davis.
The week, which included activities both on the Sacramento campus (the UC Davis Health System Center) as well as the Davis campus, began on Monday with a reaffirmation ceremony led by Julie A. Freischlag, M.D. the new Vice Chancellor for Human Health Sciences and also the Dean of the School of Medicine, at the Sacramento campus.
According to Vickie Gomez, the Diversity Coordinator in the Office of Campus Community Relations at UC Davis, the reaffirmation ceremony welcomed the new vice chancellor and also highlighted how to “better live the experience of community and fully integrate the Principles in all aspects.”
At the Davis campus, the POC week began with a Cultural Awareness Night at the Memorial Union on Feb. 24 that was attended by students, staff and Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi. The event featured music groups (the Bomba Fried Rice Band and Mariachi Cielito Lindo Band), dance groups and spoken word groups, and it also gave students the opportunity to speak about their cultural heritage through an open mic.
“It was wonderful to see that the multi-cultural acts really spoke to the level of diversity we have on campus and in the city as a whole,” said Neha Venkatesh, a first-year biological sciences major and member of Bhangre Di Jaan, a Bhangra dance team that had its inaugural performance at the Cultural Awareness Night event.
Events for the rest of the week addressed various topics from race to sexual orientation. Events open to students included a Social Justice 101 class; Soul Speaks, a multicultural expression and talent showcase put on by UC Davis’ African Diaspora Cultivating Education; a film screening of Brother Outsider; a Dialogue on Religious Diversity, and Safe Zone Training to make campus more accepting of LGBTQIA people.
“The Principles of Community speak directly to maintaining a climate of justice,” said Elizabeth Cote, interim director of the UC Davis LGBTQIA Resource Center, via email. “The Safe Zone training provides people with the opportunity to reflect on their beliefs and gain the knowledge and skills to contribute to a climate of justice on our campus.”
These events were hosted by a variety of student organizations and campus departments, including the Multi-Cultural Immersion Program, International Student Association and the African Diaspora Cultivating Education.
UC Davis staff were also encouraged to participate in the week’s programs, with an event specifically for staff entitled “How Can We Build Greater Campus & Workplace Community?” This event was intended to be a dialogue among the staff regarding inclusion of different cultures and ideas on campus.
“The aim of the week is to understand that we as a community facilitate the dignity of our students and respect for our differences, as well as understand that our differences are what makes our community unique,” Gomez said.
UC Davis implemented the POC as a campus-wide policy in 1990 in an effort to create an environment in which every student could feel included and appreciated. Since then, UC Davis has formally reaffirmed the Principles twice, in 1996 and 2001.
The main intent of the week was to increase awareness of the Principles, which many students still only recognize through seeing part of the statement printed on the back of their student ID cards.
“I still think that there is the great awareness that we hope to have with regards to the Principles of Community across the student body … there is a real opportunity to have them know that we have these guiding principles that we really take to heart,” Villalobos said.
According to Gomez, the POC week was well-received, and the Office of Campus Community Relations hopes next year’s will be too, as 2014-15 will mark the 25th anniversary of the Principles of Community.