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Campus issues final 'Principles of Community'
Developed with guidance from faculty, staff, students, and alumni, they articulate values we hold in common

| 17 March 2005

Seven declarative statements intended to serve as "an affirmation of the intrinsic and unique value of each member of the UC Berkeley community" have been issued in their final form by Chancellor Birgeneau and the Campus Community Initiative (CCI). These "Principles of Community" are also intended to serve "as a guide for our personal and collective behavior both on campus and as we serve society." They have been in development for more than two years, as one of the startup projects undertaken by the CCI following its creation by former Chancellor Robert Berdahl in 2001.

Read the Principles of Community
It would be a challenge to identify a recent initiative that took shape with as much input from Berkeley campus stakeholders. Always envisioned as a "community document," the initial "principles of community" statement was drafted with participation by staff, faculty, student, and alumni leaders. A year ago, each of these groups was invited to respond to the draft statement via an online questionnaire; more than 3,000 individual responses followed. Those responses were analyzed to identify "emerging themes" that were then used as guideposts during the preparation of a final set of principles - which was then poked and prodded a bit more (by focus groups of student leaders, for example) before being promulgated as Final with a capital F. The results are reproduced in the box below.

The staff and alumni respondents to the online questionnaire showed a high level of approval for the draft principles: 78 percent of staff and nearly 71 percent of alumni "voted" to adopt them in that form. The tally of faculty and student respondents showed substantial but less-overwhelming support, with more than 40 percent of student respondents opting not to adopt the principles, and some 36 percent of faculty voting similarly. Many student and faculty respondents thought the principles were duplicative because they exist in various forms on campus already. In addition, a number of students either expressed a cynical view toward talk of community at a time when they were being required to pay major fee increases, or else feared that the principles might be used to punish speech or actions - an opinion presumably fueled by controversy over the revised Code of Student Conduct being developed at the same time as the online survey was distributed.

"This is not a code of conduct," says Acting Vice Chancellor for Business and Administrative Services Steve Lustig, director of the CCI. "It's an intentional statement" that does not replace any of the various statements of operating values that have been developed by individual units or departments, or the codes of conduct already in place to govern the actions of students and faculty.

Says Chancellor Birgeneau: "Though Berkeley is made up of many varied communities - an aspect that offers the campus much strength and depth - it is also a broad community coming together for the purposes of teaching, research, and service. How we engage in these activities together, whether within or between our smaller communities or between individuals, is the heart of the 'Principles of Community.'"

The next step for CCI Cabinet sponsor Christina Maslach, director Lustig, and coordinator Elizabeth Gillis is to convene an implementation committee that will brainstorm ways of getting the freshly minted statement in front of as many eyeballs as possible: having it included in new-employee information packets, for example, or in the materials sent to new students before they arrive on campus. "Our challenge now," says Lustig, "is not only to decide where and when to express these principles, but how to keep this a living document, to fully integrate it into every aspect of campus life."