Community is a sacred place where we gather and are called to live through a commitment with one another to create change through collaboration and inclusion. Our collective impact is stronger together than acting alone. A reflection on community in a higher education context is a true sharing among members who contribute to substantive, multifaceted partnerships and engagement.
Community connects a university to human society, human life, and the environment. Togetherness, solidarity, and reciprocity mean that all members of our community contribute to the success of our relationships and should equitably benefit from the humanistic engagement and shared experiences of our community life. At the University of San Francisco, our community is rooted in an ethic of care and love, one that bears responsibility with our members, partners, and institutions to work toward a more just, equitable, and sustainable world.
Enriched by the diverse and inclusive community of students, faculty, librarians, staff, administrators, alumni, and community partners, we cherish the dignity of all of our members, enlivened by open communication and care toward others. We build and sustain interpersonal and institutional relationships through ongoing demonstrations of accountability to one another and intentional trust-building. This allows members of the community to work relationally on small and large scales to accomplish structural and systemic change.
We honor the agency and expertise of our community members as the primary force that shapes equitable collaboration. This requires the community to engage in problem solving that maximizes a shared capacity to advance the common good. Finally, we work in coalition in setting a shared vision and path for achieving positive change in our institution and community. These principles emanate from engaged learning, a deep commitment to continuous growth, co-creating alongside members of the community to address inequity and to effectively advance the social and environmental transformations needed to carry out our mission and realize our vision.
As we engage the transformative and shared reimagining of this area of our mission of being in community, we might ask ourselves:
- How might you re-imagine your own ethic of love to build social transformation in the university community to address inequity and help create liberation for a just society?
- In what ways can our university community explicitly contend with the tensions inherent in community-campus power dynamics and be responsive to building intentional trust and honoring community wisdom and agency?
- How might members of our community prioritize ways in which the institution has harmed and exploited partners, and disavow these practices and present alternative ways that prioritize a mutually reciprocal relationship that, at the same time, advance a model of community-centered solidarity?