Individual contributions can create pride in the university

On a cold afternoon at the end of fall semester, I was walking out of Elliot Hall and saw a female student on the ground next to one of the pink bikes from the Oakland University Bike Share program.

From a distance, I thought she had fallen off of the bike and was injured. As I quickly approached her, I was surprised to see that she was sitting on the ground – not injured – but diligently working with her gloves off to fix the chain that had fallen off the university’s bike.

This random act of civility was an eye opening reminder that pride in our university and “doing the right thing” is the cornerstone of what makes us who we are as a campus community.

The student, who could have easily discarded the bike on the sidewalk and walked to class, took the time to fix something that did not belong to her – but to all of us at OU.

In today’s modern society, a heightened focus on individual excellence and feeding our own needs can sometimes overshadow the importance of manners, dignity, and overall respect for the people and things around us.

On campus, the OU Bike Share program and the poor treatment of bikes, along with the OU smoking policy and its lack of adherence, are just two examples of issues that drive students and administrators to search for solutions and opportunities for improvement.

By peeling back the layers of these issues, it becomes apparent that policing the area 50 yards within a building, posting signage, or implementing other procedures is not the answer.

The solution resides in each of us, as members of a campus community and awareness of our own civic values.

Couldn’t these issues easily be remedied simply by displaying greater self-control and respect for ourselves and others?

As individuals, each of us is a link in a chain that builds our institution’s culture.

Disregarding policies and practices instilled on campus does not make us leaders.

Manners and civility do matter, and so does fixing a bike chain and putting out a cigarette.

By making individual contributions to the betterment of our institution we foster something greater: pride in our campus community.


Laura Klein is a special lecturer in the writing and rhetoric department. She can be reached at [email protected]