The following is a sample covenant for a community. It is offered not so much because it represents an ideal statement, but because it shows the elements that might be included in a covenant and how a covenant might be constructed. Each community will have its own set of inspired agreements and values. The process of clarifying those and putting them into written form is a valuable process that can strengthen a community. -ed
A Community Covenant
We endeavor that all of our interactions and communications will show respect for the well being of all, especially those who may disagree with us.
To that end, we commit to communicate honestly, openly, and humbly—without cynicism or a supposed sense of superiority and always with the respect that allows us to recognize the value of others as members of this community. Furthermore, we recognize the value of diverse opinions and that unity does not require unanimity.
Standards of Civility
By civility, we intend more than mere politeness. Rather we intend a basic set of attitudes and actions upon which we can build a community that is able to celebrate our differences, make decisions, and resolve conflict in a positive and forward-moving manner. These standards do not intend to stifle anyone's leadership, academic freedom, or freedom of speech. Rather they provide 'guidelines of participation' for our professional community. The goal is to create the conditions that best allow trust and positive relationships to flourish.
Therefore, the COMMUNITY administration, faculty, and staff commit to prioritize the following in our communications within THE COMMUNITY and concerning THE COMMUNITY to the general public:
1. Encouragement: encourage each other and value the contributions that all members make to the shared mission of THE COMMUNITY.
2. Collaboration: choose to enter into communication non-defensively, assuming other parties have good will toward us and are acting in good faith.
3. Forgiveness: allow others to grow through forgiveness, and avoid holding grudges.
4. Inclusiveness: prioritize inclusive language and actively recruit input from under-represented voices (bearing in mind categories like gender, culture, ethnicity, position, and rank).
Governance, Planning, and the Use of Authority
We recognize that we all exercise authority in one or more areas, making decisions that affect others. Therefore, we commit to the following tenets:
• Whether as individuals or as groups, we affirm that it is incumbent on us to value a broad perspective and seriously take into account those whom our decisions affect and those with a reasonable interest in our decisions. It is also incumbent on us, when we have a reasonable interest in decisions, to engage and offer input.
• Similarly, we acknowledge that there are times when decisions are made with which everyone does not agree. In those instances, we commit to behave with a cooperative and positive attitude, even while we may continue to work respectfully within the system to seek change.
Healthy Interaction, Input, Grievances, Complaints, and Contributions
In our communication, we will seek the most respectful, orderly, and productive tone and medium appropriate for our message and context. Particularly in times of conflict, we should, as professionals, craft our communication in a manner that minimizes miscommunication and preserves the intent of our message. The Employee handbook will outline procedures for engaging the system and working through committee and group structures to affect change. In the case of more personal grievances between individuals, all effort should be made to resolve the issue through the process outlined in the Employee Manual
We commit to the following actions:
• Be truth seekers who speak in specifics, not in generalities.
• Seek to understand fully before expressing disagreement or dissent.
• Rely on first-hand accounts.
• Strive to reconcile hurts and reach a mutually agreed upon resolution.
• Take personal responsibility for uncivil or improper actions in order to restore harmony in the community.
• Participate in the discussion of issues of concern, or if not, choose to respect the outcome.
• We commit to this covenant remembering that in the companionship of colleagues we can see the image of the highest in one another.