Individual Students’ Responsibility: Let’s improve the students’ behaviour!

 

Presentation written by:

Maude GUETTE, maude.guette@gmail.com

Pauline NORAZ, pauline.noraz@gmail.com

Josephine OTTE, josephine.otte@outlook.de

Presentation supervised by: Assoc. Prof. Dr. Elena M. BARBU, elena.barbu@univ-grenoble-alpes.fr

 

 

Table of contents

Introduction

  1. Learning behaviour
  2. Behaviour towards oneself
  3. Behaviour towards the others
  4. Behaviour in community

Introduction

The public has more and more grown aware of the impact of companies on the environment, leading to companies creating codes of conduct for their business ethics and decision making process. These are not only limited to ecological factors, but includes also the social responsibility and the economic aspects of the company. This is called Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). But such responsible behaviour is not limited to companies, but can and should be practiced by individuals too.

Our way of consumption impacts the sourcing of raw material, shipping products around the world, and causing CO2 and other emissions that are impacting the climate. This has very different impacts. It impacts the ecosystem, as the rising water temperature causes reefs to slowly disappear, but it also impacts our health. Pollution is supposed to cause 9 million deaths per year[1]. In order to respond to those problems, individuals need to take responsibility.

It is than called Individual Social Responsibility (ISR). The goal is to have a positive impact on society as a whole in order to keep a balance between the economic development and the welfare of the ecosystem as well as the welfare of society.

Furthermore studies have shown that students are willing to renounce on part of their salary, if they are working for a socially responsible company.[2] This shows the importance of CSR for students in general. Therefore we are looking for how a student can be more socially responsible himself or herself. The goal of this essay is to identify all elements that are important for Individual Student Responsibility.

We have identified four key elements that are crucial for the Individual Student Responsibility. The first one is the learning behaviour of a student, as it is the fundament of his occupation and his success. Secondly the behaviour towards oneself as well as the attitude are crucial, as a good mental and physical health are important for not only the everyday life of a student but also to extreme situations such as exam period. This can cause a big impact on the students health. It is also important as it is important to be well within oneself before an individual can really help others.

The third element identified is the behaviour towards others. This is an important factor, because the environment an individual is living in plays a big role for the wellbeing. Moreover the way an individual treats his surroundings will reflect on the individual. This is true for students as well.

Lastly, the behaviour in a community is another key element for a responsible student, as it includes things that he or she can do in order to impact society and the environment.

This essay not only serves to identify the elements of Individual Student Responsibility but can also be seen as a very rough guide on how to become more responsible, as it includes examples that may help improve the behaviour of a student.

  1. Learning behaviour

Nobody is without knowing that the main student’s objective is (unsurprisingly) to study.

When a student decides to register in an university, he has to organize his time in such a way that he is able to work on the compulsory readings for his classes and prepare the exams. Furthermore, to optimize their learning time, students shall focus during the class and not disturb other students. If they are efficient enough during the time spent in the classroom, this will for sure shorten the time needed afterwards to learn the lessons. Students obviously must behave appropriately during class, if not for the sake of a proper learning process, at least to respect their classmates. Taking part actively in the lectures and be respectful will create a good atmosphere and allow everybody to work in good conditions.

The more a student goes forward in his studies, the more he will understand which learning process suits him best. Some students find out that they assimilate their lessons better thanks to reading while others prefer to work in groups and talk. Once this specific methodology is adopted and shown good results, the student will, in all likelihood, perform very well during this amazing time that is university.

  1. Behaviour towards oneself

Become responsible as an adult

  • Manage monthly budget

It can be a student loan, a revenue from your parents, or a wage from a student job, if a student has his own accommodation, he has to manage his money. The student must divide this budget between his rent, food shopping, transports, parties, etc. It’s the time to learn, because when the student will start to work after they graduated it will be their money, and will not have their parents or a student loan to help them out. Plus, they will be more responsibility, more taxes, more bills to manage and the first income is not always big. A possibility to keep up with the budget is keeping track of expenses.

  • Maintain your accommodation

Most of students are living in student accommodations, studios, appartements or flatshares, and not in their parent’s house. So, it’s their responsibility to clean and store all their stuffs. Some psychologists reported that disorder means a low morale and tidy your accommodation permit to move forward and have a visual field which is allows people to be in harmony with their accomodation. Clean your room means disinfect it, and eliminate all pathogenic germs, which can transmit diseases or prevent to recover. If a student tends to be messy, he or she can make a cleaning schedule to divide the time of tidying during the week. It could help them to learn to be more tidy.

  • Being a student means studying

Becoming responsible means honoring your commitments too. When you have decided to start studies, you have to make all necessary efforts to succeed. You should not skip class and you must do your homeworks and prepare your exams. To prepare the future that you have imagined and to respect all the things that your parents have done to allow you to succeed you must give everything you could to be graduated. There are different ways to become more organized. The student can do homeworks directly after the teacher gives them, to be sure to do them. Furthermore students can create schedules to be sure to do on time all their homeworks. If the student tends to be distracted by social media, there are apps like Forest App that help students not use their phone for a defined time.

Be well in your body

  • Healthy eating

Eating healthily and eating a food adapted to your age and gender contributes to maintain good health and prevent some diseases (for example: diabetes, potentially some forms of cancer, cardiovascular diseases…). A balanced and varied diet allows to cover all the body’s need and weight maintenance. To be in good shape, you must recharge our batteries, and eat enough proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, minerals and fibres. All those components have to be spread on all meals during the day.

A lot of students have a big problem with food, because they don’t have much time, or money, or they just get lazy. But, nowadays, many books and websites are proposing different menus which are very cheap or easy and quick to make. It holds only to student motivation.

If a student wants that to respond to his/her body’s needs, they have to eat minimum five fruits and vegetables per day, and a consistent provision of vegetable or animal protein.

  • No abuse of alcohol and other drugs

During a student’s life, weeks and months are punctuated by lots of parties. It is in the student responsibility to take care of himself. During the adolescence, young people try, and do some experiences to have new sensations. That’s why they drink alcohol, they try different drugs etc. But students are adult persons, and they know what kind of problems could caused by drinking too much alcohol or smoke too many drugs. They have to know their limits. Drinking too much twice per week could generate a lot of social and health problems. It’s killing brain cells, and mutilate the liver. It is not because your friends are drinking that you have to, you just have to do what you want to do in accordance with your values.

  • Sports

All the benefits of sports doesn’t need to be proved now. Sport allows to lose weight, but this is just one little reason among many to play it. Benefits can be seen not only on the health but on the morale too. As an healthy food, playing sport is preventing cardiovascular diseases, cancer and facilitate the blood pressure. When someone is playing sport, after a certain amount of time, the ductless gland secrete a lot of endorphin hormones which is also known as happiness hormones. This a natural anti-stress medicinal product which is fighting against anxiety and depression. To have a great health and to feel good, students should play sports thirty minute per day. For example, go to work with a bicycle or by foot can be a good way to begin sports if they are not used to it. However, as all other things, sport must be practice with moderation, and the body need to rest two days per week. Too much sport could generate joint problems or tiredness injuries.

Be well in your mind

  • Accept yourself

To be focussed on your studies and live more in the present, to trust in others and live without too much stress: student has to trust in himself and accept who he is and who he is becoming. First of all, accepting yourself means accepting to feel all bad emotions or sensations linked with your appearance or your body. Students don’t have to be the way that others want, they should be who they want and not pay attention to the judgements made by others.

  • Be positive

To be well in their mind, reduce the stress and accept themself, students have to be positive. As has explained the Brussels psychiatrist Thierry Janssen, negative thoughts can create tension, be tiring and, in the long run, it can weaken your moral and your health. Be positive and set aside bad thoughts push student to feel more and more better days after days, it can also improve your relationships because they will be concentrate more on others qualities than their defaults. Student will have more energy per day, to be totally concentrate on their tasks in class and all others activities, because their mind will not be parasitised by bad thoughts.

If student become positive thinker, they eliminate fear in their bodies, so you have more courage to deal with what happened during the life. For example, if they are a negative person, in order to train their brain to, they can list everyday, five positive things which happened during the day. Smiling is a powerful help to become more happy. It is not because you feel happy that you are smiling, the contrary is possible, you could be happy because you are smiling. To smile has an effect on mind and body. So student could try to smile every morning in front of their mirror, to strangers in the street etc. Feel better and be positive can begin with make others happier. Good actions have good effects on your morale.

  • Be surrounded by friends and family

Be surrounded is a very important thing to success with all other points because family and friends can support the student and push him to do the best. It is very common for students to leave their family and integrate a school or a university far from parent’s home. So, they have to meet new persons and create new friend link with people. Friends are a very important moral and physical support to move forward and they could help to get back on track and keep in mind responsibilities and obligation. Real friends will propose to you some nights or days out, will help you when you need, argue you if you do bad things and applause you when you are succeeding.

  1. Behaviour towards the others

A big part of the life of a student is the interaction with others, whether by working together on a group project, playing sports or in other extracurricular activities. The behaviour towards others is another important element of a student social responsibility, as it has a big impact on the community one is interacting with. A good and healthy learning environment can help a student be more successful with their academic goals as good and supportive friendships are an important impact.

In order to create a good environment there are several factors that contribute to it. In this case it is easier to pinpoint what behaviours should not be displayed by a responsible student. To actively change those negative behaviours towards others there has to be a personal effort. Some of those behaviours and their effects will now be explained.

Behaviour that endangers others

Clearly a responsible student should not endanger others, as it will impact the relationship with others very difficult, and makes the student not trustworthy for others. Harm to others can be done by harassment, this is a topic we will be talking about later on, intimidation, bringing firearms to the campus, taking drugs or drinking overly and endangering others will being high.

In order to prevent such behaviour, the responsible student should make an effort and think about whether his behaviour has so far endangered anyone, and should try to avoid such situations. It might take a big effort, as some students might not always be conscious of how their behaviour influences and impacts others.

Discrimination

 

Discrimination is defined as “treating a person or particular group of people differently, especially in a worse way in which you treat other people, because of their skin colour, sex, sexuality, etc.[3]. This behaviour might also include other factors, such as age, race or physical disability. The way discrimination can be shown is by harassment towards those groups of people. Such behaviour might be making negative comments about an student’s personal (religious) beliefs, using racist nicknames or making comments about a student’s skin colour, though there are many more ways of harassment towards other individuals. Everyway the safe environment for a student is affected by discrimination might be considered discriminatory harassment.

Even though sexual harassment might be considered part of the harassment mentioned above, it is worth mentioning separately, considering the impact of it on society by the #metoo – movement, where an immense amount of people came forward about the way they were sexually harassed or abused. Sexual harassment is defined as “unwanted conduct of a sexual nature which has the purpose or effect of violating someone’s dignity, or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for them” by the British government[4]. Examples of such behaviour can be sending suggestive messages or notes, displaying inappropriate sexual images or making inappropriate gestures, but again there are many more forms of sexual harassment and might be perceived differently depending on the person.

The reason discrimination, particularly discriminatory harassment, should not be committed by a socially responsible student, is that it affects the safe psychosocial learning environment negatively, that is so crucial for the success of a student. Harassment might reduce the productivity and the relationships in the university community. Another problem that is caused by harassment is that there might be a higher absence in lectures due to the fact that the victim might feel unsafe or unconformable in the learning environment. This is the reason why facing discrimination is important for a responsible student.

A key role in the prevention of harassment is played by communication: in order to prevent harassment students need to talk about their experiences. Furthermore there has to be an implication of the university and all other parties implied in a good learning environment. There has to be specific talk about it, not only a general teaching about the topic, but rather mentioning real situations that have happened. It is also important for a responsible student to react if he or she witnesses a situation of harassment. Moreover the student should be asking about the policies of the university concerning harassment as well, as say something if they witness a scene where one is uncomfortable and help in such situations.

c) Academic dishonesty

Dishonesty is defined as “behaving or prone to behave in an untrustworthy, deceitful, or insincere way[5] by the Oxford Dictionaries. Examples of dishonesty in the university environment are giving wrong information to any university official, faculty member or to the office, the misuse of official documents or plagiarism.

If such behaviour is detected by the university there are usually disciplinary actions. Depending on the case there might be different punishments, in the worst case even dismissal can be a option for the university to take.

Of course such behaviour should not be shown by a responsible student, as it will endanger the students’ reputation in the university. Furthermore it will impact his reputation with his fellow students, as they might not find that they cannot rely on him anymore, for instance in group works.

For the university it is important to react properly in case of academic dishonesty, as there is a influence between the behaviour of students at university and in their later careers. Furthermore it was found that students who felt to have a stronger reason for unethical behaviour are more likely to cheat than those who have less reasons to cheat. So the university should act in order to reduce dishonesty by addressing the reasons that students have and be tougher on the detecting of dishonest behaviour.

Another way of reducing academic dishonesty committed by students could be the creation of an honour code, keeping them accountable in their academic life at the university.

d) Abuse of property and Theft

A responsible student should not try or actually steal any property of the university, of a member of the university community or any public property, as it leads to a insecure feeling in the learning environment, which, as already mentioned, negatively impacts the students’ success of their studies at university. Examples of theft are stealing a laptop, abuse of property can be taking someone’s bike without the person’s agreement, but giving it back eventually.

In the case a student wants to use someone else’s property, the student should absolutely ask permission before taking it, in order to ensure that the other person agrees to the use. Furthermore a responsible student should intervene in the case that he witnesses a theft or, at least call the police, to make sure that measures are taken.

  1. Behaviour in community

In addition to being a responsible person towards the others and towards his or herself, students can look after their behaviour in the community they live in. By “community”, we mean “a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common[6]. This word can be associate with the word “society”, and implies in this case “the people of a district or country considered collectively, especially in the context of social values.”. In this final part, we will deal with what could be a student’s responsible behavior towards the society.

Student’s role in education

Students often play a small role in defining or governing the school system that educates them. Generally, students are expected to only focus on learning, while teachers, university directors and governments are taking decisions. But if they want to, they can have an influence in the education system and make things change by taking their share of responsibility. To that end, it is necessary that students are not simple spectators of their academic environment, but rather involved actors.

If your school has one, you can as a student be an official participant in the school board and then holding an advisory seat. It will allow you to take part of the decisions concerning your school. Non-profit organizations also offer opportunities to participate in decisions and to raise student’s voices, such as the Association pour la Vie Etudiante which is established in universities of some french cities such as Nancy or Paris. By being an active member of these officials organizations, students can serve the entire student’s community by playing a spokesperson’s role.

It is also student’s responsibility to give feedbacks or advices as soon as they have the opportunity to do it. For example, the Grenoble IAE is questioning its students at the end of each semester through an online survey. The objective is to obtain student’s feedbacks concerning several items: quality of life in the IAE, teaching quality, scoring system, etc. It represents a great chance for us to raise awareness of our opinions and our claims. This is an important duty that needs to be taken seriously. Simply blaming teachers or administration services for instance is useless: it is better to share constructive criticisms and areas of improvement. Otherwise, opinions and claims would maybe not be considered carefully by the school’s governance.

Finally, electing a class president who will be the spokesperson of your class for each new school year could be a good idea.

Student’s role in environment protection

Student are also adults like the others and have to act in a responsible way under several aspects, in particular towards the environment. Indeed, nowadays everyone is well aware that the environmental protection is a major issue which is going to take more and more significance in the following decades. Thus, students have to secure their future and then to act responsibly to protect the environment.

To do so, students can get involved in associations or NGOs. The REFEDD, which is “a network of student associations which lead project on sustainable development such as food, biodiversity, climate or wastes[7]” is a great example. The organization also provides some best practices to be implemented in campuses, such as “creating an AMAP[8] on your campus” or “organizing a weighing of waste in the university canteen”. If you are not member of a student association, you can join the REFEDD as student volunteer. Being a member of this network is a tremendous opportunity for students to take initiatives and to do something useful for the community.

Then, The Millennium Project, which is “an independent non-profit global think tank of scholars, business planners, and policy makers who work for governments, corporations, NGOs, and universities[9]”, aims to improve thinking about the issues humanity will have to face in the future. Every year, they establish the 15 Global Challenges: an introduction to the key economic, social and environmental issues of the 21st century. Among them we found Energy Management, Cleaning Water, Climate Change, Rich-Poor Gap… Students, who represents the world’s future, can be an example to the community by raising and spreading awareness about these issues and about practices which could help solving them. To that end, The Millennium Project offers 15 Way to Get Involved[10], for example by applying for an internship in the organization or by translating documents in your language.

Lastly, students can have a positive impact on the environment at individual level. To begin, they can read officials publications about sustainable concepts like Cradle to Cradle, the Circular Economy or the Three R’s concept (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle): a lots are available on internet or on university library. Then, students can behave in a responsible way through many little habits: use a bike for the daily journeys to school, buy a renewable steel bottle to bring to school (instead of plastic bottles), use a recycled paper to take your notes, separate the wastes and throw them away in the suitable bin… There is still much work to be done to protect the environment!

Student’s civic engagement

Behave in a responsible way towards the community also implies a civic duty. Indeed, students are also citizens who have to act responsibly.

We can consider several manners to fulfil their civic duty. The first one would be to, directly or indirectly, be committed in the political field. At the present time, at least in France, students are mostly little interested in policy, or have a bad image of it. Sometimes, they don’t even have an opinion on politics, and if they have one, it is not heard.

But raising students voices is necessary! The first step would be to stay informed of current event, new reforms and upcoming local or presidential elections. Students have no excuses,it is very easy to have access to these informations: through a dedicated website or newspaper (Le Point, Le Figaro…), a radio or tv program (Radio France Politique, L’émission Politique on France 2…), or even through social media by following political figures. Be continually informed, preferably via different sources, will allow students to develop their own opinion and their critical mind. This will give them the chance to be committed in the civic life. Afterwards, they could become a member of a political party: these often have a movement dedicated to young people. Being aware of the political news is also necessary to vote for the “right” candidate: the one you really believe in and who has convinced you, not the one for who your parents are voting.

Involvement in social causes is also a way to behave responsibly in the society. There is many causes in which students can offer their support. Whether it is Women’s rights, Animals protection, Immigration, Eating disorders, School bullying… students can be part of the movement through many ways! It could be by participating in support group or in a non-profit association or by directly offering your help to a classmate who is struggling.

In your city, a responsible student is meant to act in a caring and benevolent way towards the others citizens. Offering a meal or even just greeting a homeless people, giving up your seat to an old/disabled/pregnant person, and simply being polite with people like the bus driver, the waitress, the cashier… All these things are necessary to live well together in the society.

Conclusion

The Learning behaviour, the responsibility towards itself, the responsibility toward the others, and the responsibility in the community represent for us the four key aspects of what a responsible student is supposed to be. As a reader, you should keep in mind that these elements and the practical examples identified in the text represent a personal view: the idea of what makes a student responsible can slightly differ from one person to another. Even though we attempted to be the most objective and impartial we could, and even though we used scientific data and well-known newspapers as sources, the elements mentioned are always part of a choice. They only represent a non-comprehensive list!

This text aimed to give you some paths you could explore in deeper details and reconsider with your personal opinion. An important thing to keep in mind is that there is not one way to be a responsible student: if you demonstrate kindness, goodness, commitment and willingness, towards yourself and towards the people around you, you surely are in the right direction to become a responsible person.

 

Sources

Introduction

Part 2. Learning Behavior

Part 3. Behavior towards one-self

Part 4. Behavior towards others

Part 5. Behavior in community

  1. The Guardian
  2. The Conversation
  3. Cambridge Dictionary https://dictionary.cambridge.org/de/worterbuch/englisch/discrimination
  4. Equality Act 2010 https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2010/15/section/26
  5. Oxford Dictionaries https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/dishonest
  6. Oxford Dictionaries https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/community
  7. Réseau Français des Etudiants pour le Développement Durable http://refedd.org/le-reseau/
  8. Association pour le Maintien de l’Agriculture Paysanne
  9. http://www.millennium-project.org/
  10. 15 Ways to get involved http://www.millennium-project.org/get-involved/