By MARIANA C. MORALES
Hold a door for someone, smile at a random person, and greet them with a “hello.” There are many ways to demonstrate respect and Conestoga College encourages you to be the difference during the Respect Campaign.
The campaign is designed to support and encourage respectful behaviour throughout the college. It also creates awareness of the diversity of students the college has, and to educate the community on how important respect is.
The Respect Campaign has several events throughout the year that are both entertaining and educational. Random Act of Kindness Day is on Nov. 4, which is also a Waterloo Region initiative through the Kitchener Waterloo Community Foundation. It features a number of activities to encourage people to think about how they can do a random act of kindness for someone.
Welcome Back Day is the first day of classes in January after the Christmas break. The last week of February, and the first week of March is Respect Week. This celebrates the diversity of the college through different events hosted by the Respect reps previously known as the Respect Student Committee.
The Respect reps are student volunteers from all different age groups, experiences and perspectives; just a welcoming and respectful group of people. They meet a few times a week to plan activities and develop leadership skills.
“It’s a good opportunity for students to get involved with the Respect Campaign and how they can learn to be the difference in our community,” said Student Life programmer and Respect Campaign co-ordinator Ryan Connell.
There are also Respect leaders which are paid student staff positions. They help get the message out on campus and help present Respect video presentations to first-year classes.
David Parbhakar, a Respect leader in second-year broadcast television, said he takes great responsibility in being a leader. He brings his many skills to the volunteers and makes sure people are respectful.
“I would have to say I see a great deal of students showcasing respect on campus. From saying ‘thank you’ to others, to holding doors open for the people behind them. The campaign has been a major success,” Parbhakar said.
While promoting respect to the college, Emily Morley, another respect leader in her second-year of recreation and leisure, enjoys being a leader and meeting new people.
“I believe that the Respect Campaign strongly contributes to the welcoming and inclusive environment at Conestoga, and truly enhances the student experience,” Morley said.
You may have seen various posters all over the campus that emphasize how respect is being shown through the “Thank You for Being the Difference” series designed by graphic design students. They are there to remind you that small acts of kindness can have an impact.
According to the Respect Campaign assessment for 2010/2011, 82 per cent of students agreed that the poster series helped in creating awareness about the diversity on campus. The campaign goes through several evaluations at the end of each year to make sure that all the goals and objectives are being met. They are done through surveys and evaluation forms.
This year, Respect T-shirts are available at the Conestoga Bookstore for $21.45 plus tax. It was created by graphic design student, Mariangelica Forero, with proceeds supporting student awards and bursaries.
“We all know what respect looks like. We all know what disrespect looks like, but the challenge is that not all of us have the necessary tools to confront disrespect when it happens,” said Connell. For more information on how to get involved in the Respect Campaign and other resources, visit www.conestogac.on.ca/respect.