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Be Compassionate. Be Orange.

Posted March 20th, 2013 by hilljac

Submitted by Jaclyn Hill

Oregon State University has a new logo, a fierce beaver that is said to represent the key characteristics of Oregon State, as laid out by the athletics department: heritage, strong, victorious, united, innovative, tenacious, dedicated, integrity. As this rebranding was supported and funded by the athletic department, it may be assumed that this rebranding stands to represent the athletics department of the university alone. However, Director of Equipment Operations, Steve McCoy says, “This represents the whole school. Logos, color combos, everything. We don’t want the team to look good. We want the university to look good.” And it is clear that the university agrees, as the new logo proudly flies over the Memorial Union and is on the front page of the school website, among other places.
Furthermore, the school branding requirements say that a brand is, “A consistent visual identity supports a strong brand for Oregon State University by creating a unified look in print and electronic communications. People notice visuals before they’ve read a word. That’s why it’s so important for visuals to immediately identify our communications as coming from Oregon State.”
This generalized pairing of Oregon State and the new branding is problematic because the school assumes that its logo, designed by people other than the student body, stands to represent the qualities required to be a successful member of the Oregon State community. The new logo does not, however, adequately represent the values of Oregon State and what it means to be Orange. It is based heavily on the values associated with athletics—about winning at all costs, being fierce, fighting. Instead, however, the students at Oregon State stand in unity with one another to solve problems, both within the university and outside of it. The learning and growth that takes place at Oregon State is about the process, the acquirement of knowledge and morality—not about the win at the end of the game. Therefore, the school needs to step aside its interpretation of the logo and allow students to take the leading role in deciding what the branding says about the university. By doing this, the university will support compassion because it will recognize the individual human factors that establish what Oregon State and Being Orange means. Compassion is truly what it means to Be Orange.
To Be Orange is to be compassionate. Compassion involves promoting the well-being and happiness of yourself, others, and the environment. The university has echoes of this within their mission statement, promoting the health and well being of the self and the environment, but actually becoming Orange means much more. It requires true understanding of the moral value of compassion. This means that decisions made each day bear in mind the positive or negative response that they will have on the people and the environment. The environment is included as a necessary part of our world that needs compassion for multiple reasons. First, the environment allows the continuation of life for humans, including air to breath, animals and plants to eat, and space to live. Therefore, preserving the environment means allowing life for fellow humans to continue. In addition, however, the environment requires compassion as an entity all its own for the inherent positive qualities it possesses, regardless of what it “gives” to humankind.
In this way, morality is determined by the extent to which a person is compassionate in their actions in the Orange community. Oregon State University offers its own ecosystem of diverse people, surroundings, forms of knowledge, and behaviors. Therefore, practicing and becoming proficient at skills of compassion within the community of Oregon State offers the ability to act as an “Orange” person in areas outside the university, include careers. A degree from Oregon State University shows a person has acquired skills of compassion within the setting of the school, and is therefore able to perform compassion in a variety of situations after he or she graduates or departs from the physical Oregon State community. Because Being Orange is being compassionate, students at Oregon State can transfer their skills of compassion into other environments and when surrounded with people not associated with the Orange community.
Compassion includes a wide variety of thoughts and behaviors. First, it requires knowledge a range of information and skills of what is required to be compassionate. Knowledge is a range of information and skills learned over time, both formally and informally. Learning happens through processes and outcomes, in class, in social interactions, and in other daily activities that occur on campus each day. This knowledge means understanding which actions foster positive outcomes for yourself, others, and the environment. For the self, this may mean positive self-image and self-talk. For others, this may involve moral imagination—the ability to place yourself in another’s position in order to understand a situation from their perspective. For the environment, this requires knowledge of sustainability, a main component already present in the university’s mission statement.
Because Being Orange means to be compassionate, the Orange community is defined as any members contributing or interacting with the university—making them able to learn and display compassion while at Oregon State and in the world beyond. This means that students, faculty, alumni, and other associates can, and should, Be Orange. The “Be” element of this suggests that a person simply exists, or lives, as Orange upon membership of the community. Therefore, the university, when working to the full extent of its mission to create an Orange community, will foster a responsibility for students and others to be compassionate. Responsibility is the duty a person feels to act in accordance with the moral principles of his or her community. Being Orange means existing with the responsibility of compassion. The university would benefit greatly from allowing, and encouraging, the Orange community to define what its logo stands for, and what its values represent.

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