Civility Cafe promotes dialogue to create safe-space environments

Students learn how to engage in conversations that focus on empathy and understanding


Students learn how to carry out respectful discourse at Civility Cafe.

Nicole Holman, Assistant News Editor

The Civility Cafe, a skill-based workshop, aimed to encourage and educate students on how to engage in civil discourse with their peers.

John Loggins, University of San Diego’s Director of Community-Based Student Leadership and Learning, facilitated the event on Feb. 25 in USU 2310.

The workshop was an effort to inform students of the importance of engaging in civil discourse, and the benefits one can gain.

Loggins defined civil discourse as “conversation intended to enhance understanding.”

A primary goal of the Civility Cafe was to allow students to understand how to practice civility in their academic, social and professional lives. The event focused on combining both academic thought and empathy as means of communication.

Loggins stressed that being able to critically engage in a civil and respectful manner with peers and coworkers is essential in today’s society.

“Change is a byproduct of discourse,” said Loggins, illustrating this necessity.

Students then participated in an activity designed to increase their empathy and listening skills. Students partnered up and were invited to tell their partner a story about an instance in which they either excluded someone from a community or felt excluded themselves. After students shared their stories, their partner had to tell another student the story they had just heard, but from a first-person perspective.

Loggins then played a video for those in attendance. The film featured Dan Savage, a known advocate for LGBTQIA rights and creator of the It Gets Better foundation. After watching the video, students were asked to reflect and share actions, words or ideologies that trigger negative emotions.

“How we react to triggers says more about us than what triggers us. Try to reflect before speaking out of hurt or anger; this can create more civil discourses,” Loggins said.

As the event came to an end, students lingered to continue speaking amongst one another. Students lamented the difficulties of starting conversations containing potentially problematic topics and bonded over their shared desire of participating in engaging dialogues.

This event was just one aspect of the Civility Campaign, a campus-wide program that strives to create a community that demonstrates respect and promotes behaviors that create a physically and socially safe and supportive atmosphere.

For more information about future events put on by the Civility Campaign on campus, visit