This past week, you may have noticed the positive vibes rolling out from the Greek houses. As you may have heard or witnessed, the Greek Life Office has been trying to ease the chill of our first sweater-worthy week of the semester by hosting their second annual Respect Week. Although the week is winding down and September is moving on, I think we could all benefit from a refresher on what respect means to our community and how important it is to keep it in mind as we head into our first round of tests and other academic nonsense this week.
As students, we’re constantly asked to be respectful. Be respectful towards your classmates. Respect the integrity of an assignment. Show respect for your space and the value of your property. It all gets a little monotonous. It’s one of those buzzwords you hear all day when people can’t think of something specific you’re doing wrong. But, from personal experience, I’ve learned that this word carries a meaning that goes far beyond just treating people nicely and not checking Facebook while you’re in lecture.
I’m sure I’m not alone in my complete hatred of group work. It’s the worst. It takes ten times longer to do anything and it seems to only be half as good as it would be if I just did it myself. But the worst part of group work is that the success or failure of a group project really just hinges on whether or not you and your peers can apply respect in more than just superficial terms. When someone’s late to the group meeting, it’s so frustrating because it means they don’t respect your time as much as they do their own. When someone just waits for someone else to make decisions and follows their lead, it means they don’t respect their worth within the group.
And those are traits that are incredibly dangerous to possess once we enter this nebulous space we call “the real world.” When we leave the bubble Case Western Reserve University has helped create for us, I think we will all realize that respect is an unquantifiable trait that we will be judged by again and again. It’s hard to return an email to a co-worker if they haven’t responded to your last three messages. It’s impossible to think a person’s opinions have value when you say they’re stupid and probably wrong before they even get a chance to be considered. We need to learn to respect the time and opinions of ourselves and others before it’s too late to change.
Another way we can imply this concept is by thinking about the respect we all need to have of each other’s views and experiences. CWRU is a campus with an incredibly diverse student body, each with a distinct path that brought them here to the geeky heart of Cleveland. So maybe the person who sits in the front row of your calculus class asks a question every two seconds on stuff that you learned your sophomore year of high school. As annoying as it may be, if you give them a hard time, you are in the wrong. We are all here for a reason, and their ignorance in the field of partial derivatives probably means that they’re even more impressive in other areas.
The best part about going to college is getting the chance to meet people who are so incredibly different than you or the people you grew up with. I’ll bet a lot of us never really knew someone who just moved to the U.S. or a kid our age who has already started their own business or invented a new product. I’ve got to say, I’ve never met people as talented, interesting and super-genius smart as those I’ve met in the past year on campus. I’ve learned so much from hanging out with people who have a real passion for what they do and what they’ve learned so far. I think we could all benefit from talking less and listening more. Respect the fact that everyone here has something they could teach you.
Is respect as a word overused? Yes. But is it a value that we’ve all incorporated fully into our daily lives? Definitely not. I would love to see more respect for others and ourselves here at CWRU, and I hope you’ll all join me in trying to keep the positive vibes going all semester long.