Frequently Asked Questions: What You Should Know About the Community Citizenship Initiative

Frequently Asked Questions: What You Should Know About the Community Citizenship Initiative

The Community Citizenship Initiative is a collection of conversations and learning opportunities on topics like the impact of bias, fostering unequivocal inclusion, resiliency in the face of bias, and sexual respect. The initiative, which has two parts, ensures that these values remain critical to community citizenship at the University.

The Community Citizenship Initiative was created in a collaboration among students, faculty and administrators from across Columbia. It is updated annually to incorporate student feedback and ensure that the Initiative continues to improve and evolve.

Students, faculty and staff created the Community Citizenship Initiative to make sure students have the language, skills and awareness to reinforce our core community values of sexual respect and inclusion & belonging.

Read about the goals of the Initiative

Yes, all students are welcome to participate. If you are new to your school, you will automatically be enrolled. If you are not a first-year student but are interested in participating, please write to [email protected].

You need to complete only one option to fulfill your requirement, and you can choose the options and topics that appeal to you most. If you want to do more, great! Complete as many options as you wish.

Learn more about all the options.  

You must complete both the Sexual Respect and Inclusion and Belonging modules. Upon successful completion of each module, you will receive a confirmation email.

Please note: Depending on which option you take, the confirmation email may take up to two business days.

The pre-orientation tutorial introduces policies, values and resources at the University. This Initiative asks us to more deeply reflect on the values of inclusion, belonging and community citizenship and to consider how they impact daily encounters across the University.

Disability Services can provide accommodations for registered students to fulfill participation requirements. If you need disability accommodations, please send your request to [email protected]. Please allow at least five days to arrange for sign language interpreters or CART services.

The Office of University Life offers several ways for you to get involved on campus and promote greater inclusion and belonging. For example, you could join the Task Force on Inclusion and Belonging at Columbia, become a Campus Conversations facilitator or join the Events Council.

In addition, your school may have a diversity committee or student organization focused on these issues that you can join. Ask your Dean of Students for more information. You could also start an organization within your school or through the Interschool Governing Board, or host events and conversations about what inclusion and belonging mean and how we can help promote those values.

Yes. Perhaps you even disagreed with some of what was presented. That’s perfectly fine, too. The point isn’t that we all agree, but rather that we consider the points of view and experiences of those who are different from us; that we learn how to listen; that we take the time to think about issues like diversity, equity, inclusion and others; and, that we think about what kind of community we want to be a part of, and then engage in robust conversations with others about those ideas. 

If you haven’t already begun to think about your perspective on these issues, it's a good idea to begin. This Initiative is meant to help you start – or continue – that journey.

It’s great that you’re asking this question. We hope that the insights you gained through your participation stay with you well beyond your time at Columbia. After your participation, you can apply these concepts to inclusion and belonging issues by:

  • Actively seeking out opportunities to learn more (read books and articles and attend events)
  • Having conversations with your peers, family members and other community members
  • Getting involved in community efforts
  • Becoming an active listener
  • Building a supportive network 

It's a misconception that inclusion and belonging are matters that should not be the concern of a community. While each of us has our own perspective on these values, people are often more – or less – effective in any environment depending on whether they feel like they belong, which is often determined by their interactions with others. Thus, these are also community values and not solely personal ones.

Another misconception about these values and the efforts to promote them across campus is that they only address the needs and concerns of people from historically marginalized communities. While the concerns of these communities are critical to any effort to promote greater inclusion, the concerns of everyone on this campus are central to this project and the skills (leadership, communication, etc.) gained through these efforts are essential for anyone’s success.

In addition, building a more inclusive campus, with spaces where you can hear from diverse perspectives, will lead to better learning environments inside and outside of the classroom.

Yes. For more information about where and how to report bias, please contact your school’s Dean of Students.

It is true that each of us comes to the conversation about inclusion and belonging with a unique perspective and set of experiences. Some of us are well-versed in these concepts and have even led initiatives to promote greater inclusion in our home communities or schools. For others of us, these are new, and perhaps even uncomfortable, ideas. We designed this Initiative knowing that people with varying levels of fluency on these topics would participate.

For example, the Initiative offers four video collections, each tailored to a different interest and experience level. Of course, direct engagement on these issues is valuable, so if you participate in a workshop, we encourage you to dialogue with your peers across differences, including differences in knowledge and experience. This type of communication is at the heart of inclusion and belonging.