Character Values: What they mean to students

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The character values of William Jewell College are posted around campus. You can see them on the flags, RAs have them on their shirts and now you can find them on a poster that is part of a campaign headed by Jewell faculty and staff members.

Those involved with this campaign include: Dr. Andy Pratt, vice president of social responsibility and engagement, Shelley King, dean of students, Kothney-Issa Bush, resident director of Browning, Dr. Darlene Bailey, director of athletics and Carolyn Raynes, head volleyball coach.

Previous to this group being created, some values had been singled out in 2013 by members of the Ever Better Task Force, a group that focused on Jewell’s community and identity. Eventually the first list turned into multiple lists that different departments and groups were advertising. Ultimately it was the multitude of lists that instigated the creation of one culmination.

“The current work group was created, and one of the first initiatives was to revamp the list of character values so that they were unique to Jewell, yet could be used in their entirety all over campus,” said Raynes.

Raynes and the rest of the group began work on creating a singular list that applied to the entirety of the campus in the summer of 2015. The group decided on nine values: respect, justice, honor, community, courage, excellence, liberty, faith and diversity/inclusion.

“We believe that these nine character values can be used as a base for our diversity and inclusion education for students. The values also explain our identity as an institution,and help build an intentional community. We want visitors, students and all that know Jewell to know what we stand for as a community. We want our student body to live by these values during their time here, and when they leave Jewell, they will be able to take these values into their next community,” said Raynes.

Students responded to some of the character values. Bradley Dice, senior mathematics, physics, chemistry and ACT-in major, divided the value “excellence” into three parts.

“First, excellence is not solely an outcome. It is something to be sought in the process of creation (in the moment of action), and it can often be felt throughout the doing of the work itself. For example, when learning new material, think seriously about the learning objectives and how to achieve them, not just the content itself. Second, to emerge with an excellent result, one must learn from others. That is, achieving excellence requires that one translate ideas into words and actions and seek others’ advice and support. Third, when things aren’t going excellently, find out what you can do about it. Always support your peers, help find solutions when you confront problems, give everything that you can to the community and don’t be afraid to ask for help from the community in return. That’s how we build a campus of excellent people, encourage a culture of excellent education and catalyze an excellent cumulative impact in the world around us,” said Dice.

Annie Murphey, senior Oxbridge Molecular Biology major, commented on the value “diversity/inclusion.”

“For many of us, college is the first real chance we have to encounter people from different backgrounds and with different convictions from our own. It’s a pivotal time in our lives to say the least. Inevitably, we begin to understand world views that clash with what we “know” to be true. And hopefully, every student will have the experience of feeling their walls crash down around them. But do not fear, they can be rebuilt. But maybe this time with a door, or at least windows. Even if you slept through “Responsible Self,” I hope you have let someone give you cause to reevaluate your deepest convictions, be it a student or a character from a book. Diversity is not having a black friend, I’m sorry. And diversity is definitely not a box that can be checked off. Being inclusive is being able to look at someone in the eye and say, ‘I haven’t lived in your shoes, but let me listen and learn.’ When we make it our mission to listen and learn from our peers and our faculty members, then diversity, that over-used buzzword, will follow suit.”

Caroline Wells, senior non-profit, religion and Spanish major, commented on the character value of “faith.”

“What faith means to me as a Jewell student is a journey. Each and every person on this campus, whether they consider themselves religious or spiritual or not, is on their own journey as well. For me, faith is about the hope I’ve found by trusting in God and the peace I’ve found in His working in my life. For others, faith might manifest itself in other unique ways. We as humans all have the potential to be spiritual beings, and that manifests itself in different ways for every person. What I love about Jewell is that here, we are encouraged to explore and test whatever beliefs we came with, and truly decide what we believe and why we believe it. ‘What is faith if we don’t know why we believe it?’ said Wells.

Alex Dressman, senior religion and psychology major, commented on the value “honor.”

“Reflecting on Jewell’s definition of honor, I was struck by the line that reads as follows: ‘William Jewell College instills the courage to honor truth at all times without equivocation or evasion and especially in difficult times when justice demands it.’ I resonate with this line in relation to my commitment to honor the truth of my faith in Jesus Christ as Lord while honoring the spirituality of other students on campus. Honor, in my eyes, is not predicated on wordly success or particular status. Rather, honor pertains to all peoples’ human dignity. When human dignity is not cherished, honor must cry out for justice. I exhort our community to take a stand and put Romans 12:10 into practice: ‘Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor,’ said Dressman.

Ultimately, the committee working on these values recognized that developing and integrating these values is not a finished project.

“This will be an ever developing-mission that will not happen in the next year. We want to be on a path of process, and finding practices that help us structure how we interact with each other. This initiative will hopefully educate to all the expectations of being a part of the Jewell Community. We also hope to prepare our students for life when they leave Jewell. We want them to face the world with these values in their pocket because it will only help them appreciate their interactions more. We believe that though we have issues in today’s society, those are ever changing to new issues. These character values and the goals of our committee can fit the ebb and flow of what new things arise as we grow as a community,” said Raynes.

Character Values Final

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