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President's Task Force on Non-violence and Conflict Resolution

End-of Summer Report
August 25, 2011

The President's Task Force on Non-violence and Conflict Resolution was appointed in March of 2011, with a charge of establishing a comprehensive and on-going plan to encourage significant teaching, training, programming, and research related to the topics of non-violence and positive conflict resolution.

Specifically, the group was asked to serve as an advisory group to the President, and to make recommendations for both the curriculum and the co-curriculum designed to:

· stimulate effective problem solving and conflict resolution
· teach civility in dispute resolution
· promote a positive campus environment that celebrates diversity

Members included students, faculty, staff and community members representing a variety of constituents, as noted below:

Adonijah Bakari, African American Studies/History
Paul Boyd, Off-campus representative
Peter Cunningham, Graduate Studies
Jeffery Scott Gibson, Speech and Theater
Danny Kelley, Center for Student Involvement and Leadership
Marva Lucas, University College
Jason Morton, University Police
Martha Norkunas, History
Buddy Peaster, University Police
Gina Poff, New Student and Family Programs
Jeremy Poynter, Student Government Association
Deb Sells - Chair
Sarah Sudak, Dean of Students
Diane Turnham, Athletics
Vincent Windrow, Intercultural and Diversity Affairs
John Vile, Honors College
Laurie Witherow, University College
Karen Yates, Student

Early meetings of the Task Force focused on reviewing similar existing programs at other institutions. These included programs at Kansas State, American University, and the national "Enough is Enough"; campaign, sponsored in part through NASPA, Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education. Dr. Norkunis also led an effort to catalogue existing efforts already in place at MTSU that centered on issues related to non-violent conflict resolution (see Appendix A). These early reviews led the group to a discussion of goals for a campaign that would be unique to MTSU. These goals included a commitment to three strategic areas of focus:

Skills training, both in and out of the classroom:
· Communication
· Problem-solving
· Resources for intervention
· Etiquette
· Fundamentals of civil argumentation
· Classroom management for faculty

The creation of a healthy culture/norm for the campus:
· Personal responsibility
· Step Up - get involved
· Civility/respect
· Impacting students, student leaders, faculty in classroom, staff
· Communicating "This is who we are; this is what we do; this is how we do it.";

University responses:

· Judicial interventions
· Staff training/faculty training
· Alternative, healthy programming and activities
· Campus programming, violence against women events, etc.
· Alcohol (use, expectations, consequences)

Further review led the Task Force to the existing MTSU Statement of Community Standards and Expectations. After much discussion, task force members concluded that an updated statement should serve as the foundation for the campus wide campaign.

In an interim report to President McPhee, the initial draft of the newly revised MTSU Statement of Community Standards and Expectations and the newly created True Blue Pledge were shared. Discussion ensued, specifically focused on whether or not the two pieces adequately and directly addressed the issue of non-violent conflict resolution as a goal and value of MTSU.

After extensive additional discussion, the Statement and the Pledge were revised, as follows:

MTSU is committed to developing and nurturing a community devoted to learning, growth and service. Each person who joins or affiliates with the community does so freely and accepts and practices the following core values and expectations:

Honesty and Integrity. The notions of personal and academic honesty and integrity are central to the existence of the MTSU community. All members of the community will strive to achieve and maintain the highest standards of academic achievement in the classroom and personal and social responsibility on- and off-campus.

Respect for Diversity. The MTSU community is composed of individuals representing different races, ethnicities, sexual orientations, cultures, and ways of thinking. We respect individual differences and unique perspectives and acknowledge our commonalities.

Engagement in the Community. All members of the community are encouraged to participate in educationally purposeful activities that support and enhance the MTSU experience. Active involvement and personal investment in the classroom and throughout the community are hallmarks of an engaged citizen.

Commitment to Non-violence. MTSU is committed to the principles of nonviolence and peaceful conflict resolution. Community members will freely express their ideas and resolve differences using reason and persuasion.

I am True Blue.
As a member of this diverse community,
I am a valuable contributor
to its progress and success.
I am engaged in the life of this community.
I am a recipient and a giver.
I am a listener and a speaker.
I am honest in word and deed.
I am committed to reason, not violence.
I am a learner now and forever.
I am a BLUE RAIDER.
True Blue!

With the final version of the Statement of Community Standards and Expectations as the guide, the four subgroups of the Task Force moved forward with their efforts to pursue significant, ongoing plans for infusing those standards and expectations across both the curriculum and the co-curriculum.The four sub-groups were devoted to the following areas: Faculty and the curriculum, Co-curricular programming, Student Leadership training, and Judicial and other university responses.

Chief among the early initiatives undertaken and/or underway are the following:

· A general introduction to the MTSU Community Standards and Expectations was added to all CUSTOMS orientation programs. Separate presentations targeted students and family members.

· A teaching module focused on civility and non-violent conflict resolution was completed and to Fall, 2011 student leadership training programs for student leaders, RAs, student athletes, SGA, and fraternity/sorority members. As of the opening of the 2011-2012 academic year, more than 200 student leaders have completed the training.

· The faculty who teach COMM 2200 discussed options for incorporating some aspects of non-violent conflict resolution into an enhanced section of interpersonal communication and/or into argumentation content already covered. Additional conversations about how to work with the concepts within the curriculum are expected to be on-going throughout the fall semester.

· UNIV1010 classes will include a teaching module focused on civility and non-violent conflict resolution each semester, beginning fall, 2011.

· Comments regarding the work of the task force, the Statement of Community Standards and Expectations, and encouragement to faculty to participate in finding ways to share and teach these concepts were shared by the President, Provost, and Vice President for Student Affairs atthe annual Fall Faculty meeting, New Faculty Orientation, and at the Faculty Senate Retreat.

· Posters have been created for the Statement of Community Standards and Expectations, and for the True Blue Pledge. Both will be distributed across campus.

· A video has been produced of the True Blue Pledge, and will be shown regularly at major campus events.

· The True Blue Pledge will be introduced to new students as a part of the annual ritual of the Opening Convocation. All new students, their families, and other supporters of the university will recite the pledge together during the ceremony.

During the fall term, a decision will be made regarding the on-going life of the Task Force. In April, 2011, Dr. Warner Cribb, Faculty Senate President sent forward correspondence indicating that the Senate has requested reinstatement of the Campus Non-Violence Committee but further noting that this committee should not duplicate efforts of the President's Task Force on Non-violence and Conflict Resolution. We will be recommending that the two groups be consolidated and appointed as a standing committee of the university, so that the work of the project can be on-going.