Students fill out surveys at Mount Saint Mary College's Culture of Life Launch Party (Photo by Jillian Torre)

by Fallon Godwin-Butler

“Love yourself, be yourself, be the example.” This is the motto of the positive and motivating campaign that has been spreading throughout Mount Saint Mary College campus this semester known as Culture of Life.

Culture of Life is the collaborative effort of a task force created by Sandra Henderson and Father Francis at the request of Dean Steinway, consisting of different professors, students, and directors around Mount Saint Mary College campus. The guiding principle as Father Francis stated, is to “develop a culture on campus that was more conducive to civility.” Overall, the mission of this campaign is to spread positivity, joy, self-love, self-expression, and acceptance of the wonderful person inside of us.

The Culture of Life is not specific to private or Catholic universities, it is not a religiously affiliated program, and many public universities follow similar agendas. The idea came from Kent M. Weeks’s book In Search of Civility. This piece promotes positive behavior. The book is about personal value systems, and speaks about the importance of taking a good look at our inner selves. Dean Steinway stated in an interview that one thing in dorms or houses that should not be used frequently is the mirror. This is because, as we are all human, we never look as good or as bad as we think. Culture for Life promotes the individual to step away from the mirror and embrace their inner beauty and wonder.

The main focus of this campaign is to respect yourself and others. If individuals can develop a respect for themselves, then that same reverence will aide in the maintenance and creation of relationships with others. With this in mind, activities such as student surveys, Theology of the Body, Unity Week, Tunnel of Intolerance, and a panel of diverse religious speakers are meant to enhance respect, diversity, and relationships.

The surveys are a method used for students and faculty to input their thoughts on the Culture of Life, and suggest what may be done to improve the program, or what about the program was especially enjoyable and effective. As Father Francis said, a way to “elicit thoughts.” Also, the ending survey allows the task force to compare the campus’s positivity and growth from the start of the program to finish.

The surveys provide the students with the chance to put forth their comments and ideas. However, there is more than one chance to converse and exchange opinions. This entire program is about sharing experiences. There will be a panel of religious leaders. This myriad of leaders and religions is meant to show not only different traditions, but to create a conversation with speakers that the students can relate to.

There are four components of the Culture of Life: respecting oneself, behavioral consequences, relationships, and decisions. Father Francis believes that through these practices, individual character and morality will grow and help the campus community remember to “know yourself to love yourself.” In his words, “loving one’s self always leads to service to your brothers and sisters.”

Culture of Life will create a big difference on campus. The goal is to promote civility, honesty, and a safe environment. The key idea to remember is that, in a community of individuals, we are not all one. Dean Steinway discussed the idea that civility is a human experience. Culture of Life will help all students value themselves, each other, and promote a healthy safe and loving environment.