‘‘Civility should be promoted, not believed in,’’ he said. ‘‘Civility is not something to enforce. ‘‘
Among the schools embracing those beliefs is the University of Arizona, which last year opened the National Institute for Civil Discourse after the shootings in Tucson, Ariz., that killed six people and injured 13, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
In 2010, Rutgers University launched its ‘‘Project Civility’’ just before freshman Tyler Clementi killed himself when a roommate secretly recorded the teen’s sexual encounter with another man. English, the Missouri campaign leader, said the New Jersey student’s suicide helped influence her decision to start a program on campus.
She, too, favors the voluntary approach, though her initial instincts said otherwise.
‘‘My first thought was, ‘I'm a lawyer, we need a rule or a policy,’ but then my thinking was, ‘That’s not really necessary,'’’ she said. ‘‘We can have all the policies in the world, but what we want to do is raise awareness and get people thinking ... We want to change the culture so it just becomes embedded.’’
Or, as Noor Azizan-Gardner, Missouri’s chief diversity officer, put it: ‘‘I'm hoping when they graduate they will know what it means to be civil, kind and compassionate.’’
Show Me Respect: http://civility.missouri.edu/
University of Tennessee Principles of Civility and Community: http://civility.utk.edu/
Foundation for Individual Rights in Education: http://thefire.org/
___ Alan Scher Zagier can be reached at http://twitter.com/azagier