A Question, and an Invitation: How Will You Participate in our Shared Community?

September 06, 2016

As this past summer has shown, our world has no shortage of challenges.  Mass shootings, public health, refugee and environmental crises, and police violence have demanded our attention, as has increasingly divisive political rhetoric in the U.S. and globally.   

Yet inspiration also abounds.  Where did you find it?  I found it in so many Olympic athletes, in the acts of elected officials and judges who, every day, reject harmful laws and dangerous policies, and in the work of first responders, artists, engineers and social and economic justice organizations and leaders who envision -- and create -- change for good. 

And I found it in hundreds of Columbia community members who came together in the wake of the Orlando shootings for a University-wide vigil, led by the Office of University Life with many partners, and in the thousands more who watched and conveyed their support for victims and survivors on Facebook and elsewhere.

The Office of University Life focuses directly on University as community, with special attention to student life across Columbia’s many schools.  We convene students, faculty and administrators from across the University to work together on issues that need our attention – from inclusion and belonging, to mental health and wellness, to sexual respect and gender-based misconduct, and much more.

Last week, I was talking with a group of students in an orientation session about how I see community as both a noun and a verb (yes, I love grammar).  As a noun, it is a given entity - we belong to community just by being part of this great University. 

But it is also something we create, each day, through vigorous exchange of ideas and through how we treat each other, both when we agree and when we do not.  It also poses a question to each of us:  How will you participate in creating and sustaining our shared community?

Here, now, is your invitation to join us in creating community:

  • Enjoy free Yoga Tuesdays @ 6 on the lawn in front of Butler Library, starting next week,  Sept. 13
  • Sign up to tell your story at Columbia StorySpace, Thursday, Sept. 29 -- or come to listen to other students, be moved and inspired, and share some laughs too
  • Join in Awakening Our Democracy, Columbia’s flagship lunchtime conversations about race, ethnicity, disparities, and justice issues.  The first in this series:  One Nation Under Politics on Wednesday, Oct. 5 at noon
  • Engage leading faculty authors at Reading Columbia, Thursday, Oct. 26 at 6 pm, and come together for University Life’s community citizenship film screenings and discussions in November and this spring

Want to join a University-wide Task Force?  Apply here to be part of the Task Force on Race, Ethnicity and Inclusion – and here to be part of the Gender-Based Misconduct Prevention Task Force.

If you want to take a leadership role in the Sexual Respect and Community Citizenship Initiative this year, or have other ideas, let us know at [email protected].

Finally, download the University Life app for easy access to campus resources, CUID discounts and more, now in app stores for iOS and Android, and on the web.

Here’s to an inspiring and enriching year ahead.

Professor Suzanne B. Goldberg is Executive Vice President for University Life and Herbert and Doris Wechsler Clinical Professor of Law.