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Me first

Habitual disrespect on campus

By Emily Brokaw | Contributor

Prevalent bike theft is a symptom of prevalent disrespect.

Prevalent bike theft is a symptom of prevalent disrespect.

As the final chords of a reflective song in chapel end, I hold my breath. Five seconds later, a single “whoop” shatters the peaceful silence. Later in the week, my roommate comes home with a tale of how she saw the person who stole her bike riding it around campus and finally hunted it down, leaving a note when she reclaimed her vehicle. And when I walk into the pristine recital hall on Wednesday night for Senior Seminar, the smell of Grille food greets me despite the signs posted on the doors asking people to not bring food into the room.

The unfortunate truth is that these are not isolated, one-time events. They are recurring, and they demonstrate a continuous lack of respect and etiquette on campus.

Sure, cheering for your friend is a great way to show support, so long as you don’t drown out the music. And if someone isn’t using a bike and you’re late to class, you can always plan to return it later. And it is true that rushing between classes and practices can make it difficult to find time to eat dinner on Wednesdays.

So we give ourselves excuses for such behavior. “I’m sure this person doesn’t really need their bike right now. I’m late to class, and they were asking for it to be borrowed by leaving it unlocked. Besides, it’s not like I’m stealing a laptop.”

Or maybe it’s a matter of letting everyone know that it’s your roommate or your friend on stage, and that you know musically talented people who are playing in a chapel band. Other times it’s a case of “well, I’m sure they’ll make an exception for me; after all I’m just one person, and I don’t do it that often, so it should be fine this once.”

But at the root of all of those excuses is the belief that our needs come first without any thought for others. If you add up all of those cases of, “well, I’m only one person doing this one thing,” then soon it turns into dozens of people doing “one thing.” The end result is prevalent bike theft, a lack of etiquette in certain settings and disrespect of school property.

If we give ourselves excuses for this kind of behavior, what kind of example are we setting as Christ followers? Instead of demonstrating love for people through respect, we act upon our selfish instincts.

What a strange picture we paint for those observing us from outside our little bubble. Sure, we shrug off the bike theft because it’s normal to us. We roll our eyes at the people talking loudly in class or shouting or clapping at the wrong spots in concerts and worship services. We sometimes even go as far as asking people to abide by the rules out of respect for a space or person.

But that’s not enough. It’s hard to break a habit that seems to have simply become part of the Taylor culture. And yet how vital it is for us to learn respect. It’s more than a matter of good manners and looking like an upstanding citizen. We are called to be stewards of creation, to love our neighbors and to be servant leaders. One way we can strive to meet all of those is by simply showing respect.

It becomes very clear who we’re putting first when we don’t steal bikes. When we allow for moments of silence in Chapel. When we respect the campus facilities. And what’s more, in breaking these habits, we leave a legacy behind for those that follow us—a legacy of respecting one another and loving the way Christ loves us.

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