Steven W. Clarke
Director of Campus Alcohol Abuse Prevention Center

Traditionally, civility is defined as “courtesy” and “politeness,” but civility is so much more than just being courteous and polite. “Civility is claiming and caring for one's identity, needs and beliefs without degrading someone else's in the process.”1

At Virginia Tech, being civil and practicing civility is about embracing a community that extends beyond the physical walls and geographic boundaries of Virginia Tech. It is about living and interacting with people from different generations and in different places in their lives. It’s not only about students and faculty, it’s also about parents, kids, and families. It’s about those who are either working full-time or in their retirement.

Sometimes we can forget that we live within the greater community with different schedules, needs and definitions of community. This is particularly true when alcohol is involved. As inhibitions are lowered, civility can go out the window. Alcohol misuse and abuse can lead to a number of negative secondhand effects, such as litter, public urination, vandalism, noise and public intoxication.

Even when alcohol is involved, it is important to act in a manner consistent with good citizenship and civility, and being good neighbors by not allowing alcohol-related behaviors to interfere with the quality of life for others. It’s about:
  • Taking care of each other by being a friendly and respectful neighbor;
  • Respecting your neighbor’s right to live in a peaceful neighborhood; 
  • Being aware of noise levels when walking through the neighborhoods;
  • Respecting others’ “positive” choices concerning alcohol use; and
  • Focusing on friendship and conversation rather than the alcohol.
I encourage all members of the Virginia Tech and Blacksburg community to help create a healthy and friendly neighborhood and community by reaching across the fence or street to meet your fellow VT and Blacksburg Hokies. Get to know the neighbors who live, work and study in your apartment complex and neighborhood. Get out there and meet your neighbors, open lines of communication and create a greater sense of community between student and non-student residents.

JOIN US by making a special effort to meet and greet your neighbors:
  • Say hello and wave when passing by.
  • Introduce yourself and learn neighbor’s names.
  • Bake extra and share. 
  • Host a potluck.
  • Share your skills. 
  • Ask for help when you need it.
Civility is a shared gift that we give and receive in turn. Respect, Give It, Get It!

1 Institute for Civility in Government Co-Founders, Cassandra Dahnke and Tomas Spath



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