The Capstone Creed has undergone few changes in the last 20 years, but amid recent demands for a more inclusive campus, some say it’s time for more substantial reform.
A creed is a statement affirming shared beliefs within a community. The University’s creed currently reads as follows:
“As a member of The University of Alabama community, I will pursue knowledge, act with fairness, integrity and respect; promote equity and inclusion; foster individual and civic responsibility; and strive for excellence in all I do.”
In 2014, the Capstone Creed was amended to include “individual” with “civic responsibility” and to add the phrase “promote equity and inclusion.” However, no further changes have been made since its creation in 2000.
As the 20th birthday of the Creed approaches, SGA Senators Ellen Walton and Olivia Davis are trying to implement some reform that they feel is necessary.
“Several university leaders, including Dr. Kathleen Cramer, have expressed an interest in working with the Student Government Association to review the current Capstone Creed,” said Walton, Senator for the Culverhouse College of Commerce. “The Creed, written in 2000, is the set of values our students strive to live by, so it’s necessary to ensure it reflects and relates to the student body of today. SGA is excited to be working with several on-campus organizations for this project and to incorporate the input of a diverse group of students, staff and faculty.”
Walton and Davis have hosted two meetings so far that have sparked discussions on what the student body feels they would like to have represented in their Creed. They have invited multiple organizations on campus, including faculty and staff, to attend these meetings in an attempt to gather diversified feedback. Some of this feedback included diving deeper into the succinct phrases of the Creed, breaking down any barriers that may inhibit a student’s success, and using words like “I will strive to” and “We commit to.”
Words such as “community” and “respect” continued to surface during the meeting. Although these words are included in the Creed, some thought they might not hold as much weight as they should.
“I think [the Capstone Creed] was created to check the boxes,” said a representative from the Office of Disability Services, noting the creed’s short length in comparison to other southern schools’.
Creeds from universities such as Auburn, Ole Miss, Southern Methodist University, Vanderbilt and Florida State University were reviewed during the meeting as a form of reference. Several of these creeds elaborated on key values, which were usually listed in the first sentence. The Capstone Creed, by contrast, is only one sentence long.
Some of the organizations that presided during the meetings were the Alabama Panhellenic Council, the SOURCE, Faculty Senate, Division of Student Life, Black Faculty and Staff Association, Office of Disability Services, and many others.
“To foster a more intimate environment where we made sure we could hear from a diverse group of campus leaders, we kept the first sessions invite-only,” Davis, a Senator for the College of Arts and Sciences, said. “As we progress through the initiative, we look forward to including all of the campus in this important conversation.”
Here’s the full list of invited organizations:
Alabama Panhellenic Council
United Greek Council
Office of Disability Services
Black Faculty and Staff Association
Housing & Residential Communities
International Student Association
The Coordinating Council for Honor Societies
Walton and Davis said they hope to see some type of reform by the end of the 2020 academic school year. Although the likelihood of completely changing the Creed is slim, they said, they have an achievable goal of updating the website to include more detailed information on the history of the Creed and what the University expects of their students.
“Our goal for the future is to make the Capstone Creed a daily part of life for each member of our campus — whether this is reenvisioning the Capstone Creed webpage, returning Creed Week to campus in the spring semester or working to increase the Creed’s visibility across campus,” Davis said. “SGA will spend the next weeks and months actively hearing from students and leaders about how we can make the Capstone Creed an even more legendary part of our campus life.”