When I was younger, my mom bought me a book called “A Girl’s Guide to Manners.” It was one of those American Girl books that every girl has in her collection when she’s little. While I can’t exactly pinpoint why my mom bought that book for me (I thought I had decent manners, at least), one section of it has resonated with me throughout the years. Towards the beginning of that book, there’s a section that summarizes the first few chapters. The section starts with a simple phrase: “It all boils down to respect.”
The emphasis placed on respect in that book, and in life, could not be more important to realize. Everything you do, everything you say boils down to that seven letter word whether you know it or not. Unfortunately, the amount of respect shown these days is hard to come by.
Now, I know you’re probably thinking, “But I show respect to my family and friends, Ashley.” I’m sure you do. I don’t doubt that. But that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the respect that’s seen on this campus: respect towards other students, towards professors, within organizations and in every other aspect of collegiate life you encounter. It’s in these areas where all Duhawks, including myself, could take some time to show a little more respect around here. I hear too many comments from students that are seriously lacking in respect, and I’d like to address a few of those.
Unless you’re waking up for practice before the sun comes up, going to the gym multiple times a week and training to be the best team player and athlete you can be, don’t say that any sports team on campus “isn’t working hard enough” to win games or meets.
If you’ve never spent an evening working the dinner shift, have tried to feed over half the student body in a matter of hours or have cleaned up a messy dining room cluttered with napkins, trash and spilled food, don’t say that Campus Dining sucks or isn’t doing their job.
If you’ve never taken classes that require you to analyze and critique hundreds (yes, hundreds) of pages of literature in one night, write at least three papers a week and provide feedback for other essays, memoirs and thesis drafts, don’t say that English majors have the easiest major in the world. In fact, if you haven’t taken more than two classes in a major outside of advanced gen eds, don’t say their major is easy, either.
If you don’t plan lessons every week, spend time in office hours in addition to your scheduled classes or work to modify class material, don’t say that “Professor so-and-so is lazy.”
Unless you’ve been a board member for any club or organization on campus, don’t say that an organization isn’t important, shouldn’t exist or doesn’t do enough to reach out to students.
Let’s be honest. We’re all trying to do our best during our time on Earth. We all work hard at our jobs and on homework and spend hours to be the best at the things we’re passionate about, no matter what that is. However, we can’t be at our best when other people dismiss what we do without a second thought.
Respect means always being polite and kind, because being kind to people is non negotiable. Respect means treating others the way you want to be treated. Respect means understanding and considering other people’s circumstances. Respect means recognizing other people’s dignity as a human being. Everything, literally everything, comes down to respect. And in order to get respect you must give it, plentifully.
I’m not saying I’m a perfect person all the time. In fact, I’m far from it. But I encourage you to take a lesson from that American Girl book that was on my shelf: be respectful and be gracious to other people, no matter who they are.