Arts / Faith and Humanities / Campus Community

A Pledge of Civility Towards a Pandemic-Free Future

March 16, 2021

Community, connectivity and humanity are what prompted two Alfie Scholars at Seattle University to kickstart The COVID-19 Civility Pledge Campaign.

On one particular weekend last summer, Alfie Scholar Afrikaan Osman, '22 (Computer Science), attended a gathering of Somalian, South Asian and East African refugee communities in South Seattle where he witnessed how people didn’t see COVID-19 as a very serious and dangerous issue. “Because people were off from work, they thought this was a time to mingle,” said Osman.  

Osman shared his frustration with the Alfie Scholars Program Founder and Executive Director Paula Lustbader, who then reached out to former Alfie Scholars from the Somali refugee community who worked in healthcare to find if they shared Osman’s perception that people were not following pandemic safety protocols, and if so, what we could do to help influence them to do so. In that meeting, they learned that both the Somali Health Board and the Imam Dr. Sh Ahmed Nuur were strongly encouraging the community to follow protocols, but many adults were not responding appropriately to that information. Because efforts aimed at influencing the adults were not succeeding, Osman and Lustbader decided to create the COVID-19 Civility Pledge Campaign and focus on the untapped power of young adults.

Following are excerpts from the story announcing the campaign.

The COVID-19 Civility Pledge calls attention to how our actions can impact others and their actions can impact us. The Pledge asks everyone to wear masks in all public spaces, maintain a 6-foot distance in compliance with the nationwide COVID-19 guidelines, be informed about vaccines and practice pandemic-related protocols.

The COVID-19 Civility Pledge Campaign seeks to empower youth to influence everybody to sign the pledge with a simple, interactive button on the Campaign’s website. The Campaign is a project of students in the Alfie Scholars Program, whose mission is to empower and cultivate leaders for civility. The program provides financial support, enriched academic curriculum, mentorship and professional development opportunities to underrepresented community college transfer students.

 “COVID-19 [is] more than just wearing a mask, but something that connects to civility issue, collectivity issue. The idea that I’m going to protect somebody outside of my family outside of my personal body — it required civility, it required collective mentality,” explained Osman. 

Participation in this campaign is an incentive for young leaders to practice leadership and civility, take care of their communities and represent them.

“Alfie Scholars have been leaders on campus their entire existence. With the COVID-19 Civility Pledge, they are taking their leadership into Seattle communities and creating a more just and humane world. They are living out our Seattle University mission,” said Student Academic Engagement Assistant Provost Joelle Pretty, who was deeply involved in developing the campaign.