Severn is a community guided by its mission and values; a community committed to cultivating an environment where we approach the world with questions rather than answers, engage in the healthy expression of diverse ideas, explore a wide range of viewpoints, and thoughtfully assess and reassess what we think. The purpose of this statement is to establish guidelines for engaging in respectful dialogue.
At Severn, we strive to create a climate where we can engage in conversation around complex issues in good faith, especially online, where the norms of civility often fall away. At times, we may strongly disagree with one another, yet we do so in an environment where mutual trust and goodwill undergird our shared membership in the Severn community. It is important to recognize that different conclusions arrived at by different people are not a result of character flaws, but, more likely, the result of diverse experiences and those differences merit respect rather than ridicule.
Severn encourages a robust exchange of ideas; however, language that deliberately demeans or threatens others is not aligned with our mission and values and will not be condoned or tolerated. To foster a culture of productive disagreement, we encourage community members to enter conversations, whether in person or online, with the goals of closely listening to and carefully evaluating the arguments and ideas of others. This kind of open-minded critical thinking will enable us to recognize the complexity and nuance of the issues we confront, to reconsider our positions when counter-evidence is presented, and to respect everyone’s right to have their own ideas.
Respectful conversation at Severn requires courage, empathy, and humility as we – together - seek to know and value all members of our community.