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Archives: December, 2013

Be Determined Be Orange  December 19th, 2013

Be Determined Be Orange

Peter Reisdorf

Philosophy 205

Dr. Jenkins

5 December 2013

Be Determined Be Orange

Universities can be known for a lot of things; however it is hard to define a school simply by a two word phrase. At Oregon State University “Being Orange” is a way of describing the whole mentality of the students and faculty. In order to understand the community that makes up Oregon State, we must understand that being orange has a wide variety of meaning to the eclectic group of people who make the university what it is today.

Being Orange clearly originates from the school colors of orange and black. However this simple choice based upon the school color is hardly a representation of what it means to be orange. To a large majority of sports fans being orange most likely translate to the Oregon State football, among all the other sports offered at OSU. Commercials surely reflect an image of dressing up in orange and black to support the universities’ sports programs. For those not greatly fixated on sports, “Being Orange” is a value. This value represents the academic greatness that Oregon State University has to offer. Although “Being Orange” can relate to each individual on a different level, it is also widely accepted within the community as general pride in OSU. This idea is the fact that the color orange represents a community that extends to anyone that shares a relationship, or part in Oregon State University. I think that in order to establish Being Orange I must explain my personal goals and views in the context of the OSU community. Many forget that as students, faculty member, parent, sports fan and anyone else tied to the university, we are one giant community. “Being Orange” to me involves being prideful and well rounded as a University. I believe the OSU community should be respectful, polite, hard working, courageous, determined and dedicated. These values can be universally used throughout the many categories this university represents. Being orange means excelling in not only sports and academics, but also being a community that any person would be proud to be a part of. When a student graduates we want them to be able to represent the Orange community wherever their work may take them. We want the future society to have real world values that stem from what they learn from being Orange at OSU.

In order to successfully show what it means to be orange we must help the community come together so that we can get to know everyone and spread the common mission of being Orange. The university does already have many activities and events that help members of the orange community interact with each other. However my vision would be to get groups that already exist within the Orange community to interact with one another. For example some sports fans know nothing about the great academics occurring at the university. In order for people to be orange they must interact with all the people in their own community. I feel that we need to find a hybrid event that would encourage the sports side of the community to interact with the academic side of the university. An event involving a display of current research could also be tied into an event such as a pep rally for sporting events. I think that showcasing current research and academic progress along with promoting our athletic department would help insure that people from both aspects of the university would get to see the success of the university from different perspectives. This is just an example of two groups that I feel do not interact with each other. There are many other people that fall into other groups and sub categories.

The goal would be to help decrease segregation of groups and reduce the number of cliques and sub groups that form naturally based upon the activities and interests that each student has. The idea being that in addition to people having their own more specific idea of what being orange is that they would now have a base foundation knowing that being orange is being part of the Oregon State Community. This community would then be able to share a common set of values. This would promote the idea that the Orange community is accepting of anyone willing to uphold the values that represent being Orange. The better the Orange community can get along in a positive, respectful and understanding manner the more pleasant of a place Oregon State will become. In addition to the respect that will come from being a graduate of such a fine university.





Be You. Be Orange  December 18th, 2013

Submitted by Jonathan Hyun

Be You. Be Orange


I asked some students as to what they thought “Being Orange” meant and was provided with these responses. I wanted to find a unique and creative way to visually represent some of the main words that the students came up.

Be Orange, what does that even mean? I asked some OSU students and found that being orange means being faithful, being outdoors, being a beaver, etc.  There wasn’t one specific answer but rather a bunch of opinions to what being Orange really means.

One of the responses was that being Orange meant to be faithful. This can be viewed as being faithful in your academic work, your social life, and even your community. It can be having a strong belief that the time you put into your school work will reward you with a certain grade or that your belief/attitude toward work will allow you to achieve greater success.  Everyone has some kind of belief towards something whether it is academics or sports. However, we all share the same belief in the OSU community that our actions in the community are for the good. We all support the Beavers and OSU while at the same time supporting our individual goals. Your goal could be to lose 10lbs this year or to get all A’s, the size of your goal doesn’t matter. We’re all connected by our faith and belief in our community and we should continue to support our community and support our individual goals and beliefs.

Another one of the responses was that being Orange was to be responsible. Being responsible doesn’t just mean that you’re responsible for just yourself but also for your community. Being responsible could be doing your homework on time or showing up to work on time because you’re responsible for your own actions and the outcomes of those actions. Everyone is responsible for their actions whether they’re a student, teacher, faculty, or even an employee. As members of the Oregon State community, we also have a responsibility to our community and to represent it the best we can. We have a responsibility to the other members in our community to treat them with respect. Similar to the TED talk video we watched in class, it all starts with “15 volts”, one small action can have a domino effect which can drastically improve our community. If we all took the time to commit one small positive act then we can make the Corvallis community an even better place to live.

However, I believe there is no definite answer of what being orange means and there will never be. There is no right or wrong answer to what being orange is, it can mean being active to one person and mean being responsible to another. Being orange is to be yourself and how you represent yourself within the OSU community.

From our ethics spotting experiment, something simple as picking up trash or holding open the door for a stranger exemplifies your character and addition to the OSU community whether those actions are small or large.  Those actions define your character and how you represent yourself to other members in the community. Being Orange shouldn’t be based on gpa, gender, or anything else but rather be based on the uniqueness of an individual.

Everybody within the OSU community has already contributed to “Being Orange” just by being part of the OSU community. Everybody comes from different backgrounds and provides different experience which is what being orange is all about. With respect to diversity, being orange glorifies the uniqueness that everybody brings to the OSU community. Each individual brings something different to the table and OSU gladly accepts what everyone has to offer. The uniqueness of the individual doesn’t have to be a giant gesture or action but can start with “15 volts” or something small and still contribute.

I don’t believe that in order to be considered “Orange”, one has to have the best gpa and graduate in the top of their field but rather be focused on what they can offer. Some people may not have realized what they have to offer but something small as saying thank you can be considered as being orange. Their actions within the OSU community are what makes them “Orange” and what makes them unique. There can be many different interpretations as to what “Being Orange” means but my belief is that “Being Orange” is to be you.

Be Respectful. Be Orange  December 16th, 2013

Submitted By Drew Wheeler

What does being orange mean to you?

This word has countless meaning, to a countless number of different people ranging form students, faculty, alumni, fans, and none the less the entire Corvallis community. Personally, when I think of being orange I think of my first year at Oregon State, and how I viewed the school, the campus, and the overall environment. When I think of when it mean to be orange I think of my first few weeks living on campus. I think of all the people I met, the new places I went, and all the other experiences I stumbled upon.. It was an important growing period in my life as I think it is with many other students as we mature and learn to live on our own. The closest single word I can use to describe being orange is,

Be Respectful, Be Orange.

I think this is only one aspect to being orange but at the same time it is at the core of what it means to be orange. Being orange to me can be described as a culmination of respect, courage, tolerance, and compassion. These four virtues all represent what it means to “be orange.” Being courageous does not mean being a hero or running into a burning building. While these might be courageous things, courage can be seen all around use every day. Tolerance is also of great importance, people don’t always see eye to eye and having the ability to understand that is an invaluable ability. Last of all, an element of compassion showing the signs of morality and humanity.

Courage. I view courage as the ever-present drive pushing you towards new achievements, whether small or large. As we make courageous choices we inevitably grow more adventurous and unique. This uniqueness contributes to the diversity here at OSU and it’s this diversity that helps to create such a motivating and competitive environment across campus. With self-respect and a sense of respect for others, courageous choices and acts push progress and serve as a much needed agent of change.

Tolerance reads with a harsh tone, almost a negative feel as if it’s related to some type of frustration. In this case, I want to avoid the frustrations and focus on the need for diversity. If everyone was the same, liked the same, believed the same, and chose the same we can agree life would be quite boring. With this presence of diversity, it is imperative we have tolerance toward one another and as we develop perspective we become tolerant. As we travel through life there will always be bouts with diversity and if approached with tolerance, courage, and respect the outcome will always “be orange.”

I learned the concept of compassion through sports, it certainly wasn’t a direct correlation but with time I saw that when people work together, they are able to accomplish much greater things than when working alone. Compassion can provide a fabric for lasting relationships and in general creating a positive, motivating community.

Be Respect. Be Orange  December 16th, 2013

Submitted by Stevie Coury

As we were sitting in class one day, we all realized who walked in the door. It was benny the beaver, the schools mascot. We brought benny in class to talk about what it means to be orange. Everyone is going to have a different opinion about this because there is no right or wrong, it really is what you think. The things I most remember coming up were integrity, responsibility, caring, and respect. Those four to me stood out the most and really made me think what it means to be orange. The one I chose in class and shared was respect. No matter where you go around this campus or whom you meet, I feel like there is respect. I will talk about of few of these and tell you how they fit to being orange.

I believe the most important one to me is respect. Like I said above, that’s what first came to my mind when asked about being orange. I feel like everywhere you go on campus people respect you and where you came from. I don’t feel like there is any discrimination in this college. If you notice, we have a lot of foreign people, and I’m friends with even a couple, and I don’t feel any different then they do. Respect is something that is not always easy to find. I have had cousins visit here and they can’t get over the fact of how nice people are here when they come visit. They said they have been to other college’s campus, same with me, and it isn’t the same as it is here at OSU. From the bus drivers, to the teachers, to the people who work in the MU I feel like OSU is a community that respects one another.  The next value I am going to talk about is caring. Here at OSU caring is a big value of our everyday life. Students have to care about their grades everyday in order to get good grades, and care about their surroundings. We are all here to get the best education we can, so you need to care about your grades and if you don’t your in the wrong place. Also I feel here at OSU you care about your surroundings. Nobody knows everyone on campus, but I bet mostly everyone cares enough about this school and environment we live in to do things for other people even if that is picking up their lunch trash. I have been to the OSU dinning halls and seen that happen before which is clear to me that people care about one another. The last value I will talk about is responsibility. Responsibility can be looked at in many different ways. You have your responsibility as a student in the classroom and whatever you do outside the classroom. No one is going to tell you what to do each day, you have to pick your pathways and decide if it is right or if it is wrong. College is about maturity and responsibility, and this is a big thing at OSU because of the great community we have surrounding us.

In conclusion, being orange can mean a million different things. There is no right answer or wrong answer. I truly believe what we have here at OSU is special and not found just anywhere. Respect is my biggest belief of what is truly means to be orange. Everywhere you go on campus or around the campus you feel respected and like you’re apart of something bigger then just going to school here. I believe that is a big part of why OSU is such a successful school and a great place to be.

Be Orange  December 16th, 2013

Submitted By Brooks Armstrong

            Everybody that attends Oregon State University or works at Oregon State made a choice to come here for many reasons whether it be academics, athletics, to better one self, or just because they like orange and black. But everybody that is involved at Oregon State will hear or be apart of Oregon State’s Be Orange campaign. Many people that are apart of Oregon State University do not really know what is means to be Orange or even about the Be Orange saying that the administration has decided that is important to Oregon State and everybody around it. We can all use the administrations definition of what it means to Be Orange but we all have our own definition or meaning of Being Orange really is through our experience and hard work at Oregon State.

Oregon State administrations have put together a strategic plan that describes what the school stands for or what it means to be Orange. They have five key core values that they believe describes their strategic plan and the university. They are accountability, diversity, integrity, respect, and social responsibility. All these values have there own specific role in the university and how the people in charge make decisions that effect the university and the community surrounding the university.  Before taking this class, I never really knew about this strategic plan and what the university stands for and believes in. These are all great values and good for what it means to Be Orange but for me it more than just these values and some of these values can be replaced with others that might help out the university.  I do not think all my values are the final right ones but through my experience and it helps define what I think it means to Be Orange.

The first big value for me would be pride. Not just pride for Oregon State University but also pride in ourselves and everything we do while we are at OSU and after we graduate form OSU. We should have pride in our athletic programs and all the academics our university is involved in when we attending Oregon State and we become alumni.  If we take pride in everything we do while at OSU and after we graduate it will create a great respect from other people around the world for Oregon State and people that come from OSU. Also if we take pride in ourselves and what we do it will end up being the best work we can do and make ourselves and the university look good. Another value that I hold to be good for the university and just in everyday life is responsibility. We have a responsibility to ourselves and the responsibility to Oregon State University.  We use responsibility in every choice and every action we make every day. I think because we attended Oregon State University we have a responsibility to take what we learned and experienced at OSU to the rest of the world and make the world a better place and make OSU proud and a better place. Oregon State also has a responsibility to use as students to make sure we are getting the best education and everything we need to get ready for life beyond Oregon State. I believe these two values are missing from the strategic plan and would help with the Be Orange slogan. Also all the other values that Oregon State’s administration has already recognized as key core values are great in my opinion and help mold everyone of use into something better that will help the community surrounding OSU and communities we effect later on in life.

Other than these values Be Orange means a lot more to me. It means all the hard work and dedication we students have put into our education and Oregon State University. Students put countless of hours of hard work and dedication into their education to better themselves. I also believe that it means something different for everybody but it means something positive in each on of our lives and reflects what Oregon State is about. Being Orange is not something hard either it really is just finding something you love and are good at or doing the best you can do to better yourself and the community with what you have learned at Oregon State. If we use this Be Orange statement the rest of our lives it will help make great decisions and help us better ourselves and the communities we are involved in.

Be Bold. Be Orange  December 16th, 2013

Submitted by Jason Walker

As I enter Beaver Nation, the cones in my eyes are flooded with exuberant orange. Flags, posters, and billboards all display the attention grabbing color that unites us as a community. Many influential citizens have received their educational foundation here at OSU including Nobel Prize winning Linus Pauling, Gordon Bell Prize winning Phillip Emeagwali, and Douglas Engelbart who invented the computer mouse. All of the following dedicated their lives to improve the quality of life for the people of the world. The orange from the community of OSU seeped into the veins and arteries of these icons and circulated a shared quality. Being orange, is being bold.

Oregon State University is dedicated to improving the quality of life. This institution is here to help mold educated individuals who have the potential to positively affect society. Revolutionary thinking is encouraged in all departments. We pride ourselves on finding new ways to become a more sustainable species. Meanwhile, the Public Health department is researching new ways to combat obesity and other epidemics. Simultaneously, the Philosophy department is busy evaluating our habits and actions as a whole while assessing the ethics that need reform. OSU is constantly seeking new and efficient options instead of becoming complacent with society’s development.

Innovation requires boldness. You must be willing to take risks and put yourself out there. You must be bold enough to pursue your ambitions despite what people may think. Being orange is being bold.

Be Bold: Set high goals for yourself, and strive to reach them

Be Bold: Stand up for what you believe in, despite society’s views

Be Bold: Question existing norms

Be Bold: Be yourself

Be Bold: Separate yourself from the rest through excellence; do not fear success

Be Bold: Strive to reach your full potential

The following is a personal antidote of how I am striving to fulfill my responsibility to Oregon State University by being bold:


I think that it is unethical to remain idle in the face of an immoral action or event. It seems that we as a society value acceptance over our own moral code. We have all been in those situations in which a friend, or even a stranger makes an unethical remark or gesture towards someone else while we remain silent. For example; an associate of mine often makes very discriminatory remarks about Asians. He’ll usually make these comments among a crowd of peers who all respond with laughter or confirmation. I myself am guilty of condoning this action by not speaking out against it. The problem is that any form of racism is completely against my moral code. So why in the face of overt racism do I not practice my beliefs?

I know for a fact that I am not alone in this. This same concept can be seen on a much larger scale. I’ll use the Jim Crow laws as an example. I saw a documentary that covered a very light-skinned African American family who worked and saved enough money to buy a magnificent house in an all-white neighborhood. The main character was better off than most blacks because he could often pass as Caucasian. They moved next to a white family who had strong moral beliefs about fairness, equality, and equal opportunity. However, many people in the neighborhood were upset that a colored family had moved in to their area and brought their property value down. They organized a committee and pressured the neighboring family to take the colored family to court. They abided.

Even though racism went against their morals, they agreed to take the colored family to court in an attempt to uproot them out of their new home. They succumbed to the pressure of “society’s values” and completely devalued their own moral code. Why?

There are legit and valid reasons as to why they went along with the community’s plan. The family had their own image to protect. If they would have openly opposed the motion to uproot the colored family then they may have fallen victim to hate crimes themselves. They could have received hate mail, had their property damaged, been excluded from social events, etc. Their own physical and interpersonal safety was at stake.

I believe that when we bear witness to an unethical event, we have a moral obligation to ourselves to stand up and confront it. If I would have spoke up and told my associate that discriminating against someone based on the color of their skin was wrong, and that I won’t accept that sort of talk while I’m present, I would have experienced personal gratification. Yes, the situation would have been awkward for a short period of time but I ultimately think I would have gained even more respect in the eyes of my peers. This sort of action can only be done by someone who is bold. It takes courage to stand up for what you believe is right, especially when that idea challenges the majority. Being orange is about having the moral competence and boldness to act on your own accord. From now on, I will no longer remain silent in the face of an unethical event.

This is just an example of what Beaver boldness means to me. Being orange may apply to you in different ways. However it may be, Oregon State University instills the ideal that boldness is an essential trait to being successful. So be bold, be orange!

Be Dauntless;Be Orange  December 16th, 2013

Submitted by Kellen Clute

Oregon State University uses the slogan “Be Orange” on commercials and other media outlets to advertise their brand as a school and community. But often times this slogan is open to the interpretation of its audience and their values. Because there is simply no universal definition for what is “Being Orange” it presents a great opportunity for people to use their values and critical thinking to imagine, or create what being orange really means. However the university does offer examples as well as values that they associate with the slogan as well as expect their students to act by. Some of these values include accountability, diversity, integrity and respect.  These values are very clear, with definitions on the website to further communicate their goals and intentions as a university.

Although the University has clear goals and values that coincide with the Be Orange slogan, there is always room for more exploration and self interpretation. I for one would pick different values when trying to convey how I think OSU and the surrounding community should act. Not because the ones the university has provided aren’t good or don’t make sense, but because I, like most people in this world have different views values and opinions then those who sat down and created these. Does that make mine any more “right” than theirs? No. But for the sake of this assignment and my own well being am I going to lay them out for you? Yes.

To start I would replace accountability with responsibility and the reason is quite simple. If you first tell someone they are being held accountable it only seems fair you let them know exactly what they are accountable for. Responsibility explains actions, decisions, and power and with attending OSU comes all three of those things. Every day you make decisions based on yours as well as others actions and most the time you are either choosing to exert or not exert your power. What I mean is when I helped an elderly lady cross the street for the hero assignment I was not simply walking across some pavement. I was choosing to use my power as a very large male to stop cars that were previously not stopping and I made the decision to to not act like most people and simply stand by. Actions and decisions like these although little, are overlooked everyday. If this were to change, and more people were stand up and unite as leaders the OSU university and community would benefit greatly.

Pride is another value left out of the Oregon State strategic plan that I think is very important. There is most obviously the pride we should all have in our school. Our athletic programs, our academic success and our school history are all examples of things attending students as well as alumni should take pride in. However more importantly is the pride one must have within themselves to conduct themselves the right way every single day. It is easy to be lazy when you are tired, it is easy to sleep in and skip class or to walk by someone committing a wrong doing, but it is pride that prevents someone from not. It is pride that makes that person day in and day out continue to strive for excellence and to keep making this community a better place.

To be quite honest Being Orange isn’t anything majestic, in fact it really isn’t all that hard. But it does take a commitment and continuous stability both in ones own self and the community as a whole to make this slogan really mean something. However I think if people were to follow the OSU strategic guide as well as what I just laid out it can and will be done.

Be Driven. Be Orange.  December 16th, 2013

Submitted by Emily Fisher

When someone is told to “Be Orange”, that person may be a little confused. What does it mean to “Be Orange”? Even as students here at Oregon State University, many of us still don’t have an idea of what “Being Orange” actually means. What current students, as well as former and future students of this university will learn is that “Being Orange” is unique to all of us. Hearing the phrase has different meaning to every member of the OSU community.

There are some values within this motto that have been unchanging, as they’ve been around for a few generations. When I asked my parents who are OSU alumni what “Being Orange” meant or does mean to them, my father answered, “It means to be proud. Wearing orange shows you’re proud of your school and that you want to represent it as best you can”. My mother’s response was similar. She said, “To me, it means being supportive. As a student of the university, one must show support for the school as well as fellow students and peers”. The values of support and pride are emphasized in their definitions of what it means to “Be Orange” and are still present today, as they are also apparent in current student’s definitions, such as my sister’s and friend’s. My sister responded saying, “Being orange means being spirited and showing support for Oregon State in all dimensions of the university”. One of my close friends said it means, “Having pride in our school which brings us all together. Being orange brings people from different backgrounds together”. Another said, “Being orange means being unified. It unifies the school, because together we are proud to be Beavers”. To the students of OSU, unity and togetherness are values that can also be represented through “Being Orange”.

I, too, believe “Being Orange” signifies these values, but more importantly, I define “Being Orange” as being driven. By trying my hardest in everything I’m a part of here at OSU, from academics to intramural sports teams, I am living “orange”. Drive and determination go hand-in-hand with one of the current core values of the university, integrity. When other students and I are honest and hardworking in our actions and in the work we complete, it shows our integrity. It is also evident that we are driven to be the best students we can be. We can easily recognize when students are “Being Orange”. As they head to the library, or stay there studying for hours on end, when they apply for internships, go to extra sessions and office hours, or even when they volunteer, students show their drive and desire to be among the top students who will then be faced with better opportunities. Being driven to be a good student results in having drive for other things in our lives, such as gaining acceptance to a prestigious school or landing a desirable job in a competitive field.

Another existing core value of Oregon State’s is accountability. As students, staff, faculty, or anyone else who is apart of the OSU community, we are accountable for all that we do, good or bad. This aids in “Being Orange” because driven individuals take accountability for their work. Both students and professors are held accountable for the final grades the student receives. The professors must be driven to teach students the material in the most effective way, and the students must be driven to study and learn the material. They both are then held accountable for whatever grade the student ends the term with. Either they were “orange” and were driven to do the best they could, or they had no drive and didn’t try to succeed.

I believe if “Being Orange” means what I think it does, which is being driven and determined, anyone affiliated with Oregon State University will be seen as educated and superior individuals. People all over the United States admire those who are hardworking and who show integrity in their work. These are skills and values that employers look for in people they hope to hire. For example, let’s say there was a job opening at a high-end business firm and both an Oregon State University graduate and a University of Oregon graduate applied and attended interviews for the job. If the employer knew of the university’s motto, “Be Orange”, he/she would understand that the OSU graduate came from a good school and obtained a high level of education because of their drive to succeed and to stand among the top students at the university. This would then give the OSU graduate the upper hand in being hired for the job because they demonstrate these desired skills and values. This example can be applied to many other facets in life because being driven can take you down any road as long as you’re willing to get there.

What’s Your Why? What’s Your Orange?  December 16th, 2013

“Submitted by Devereaux Filipe”

What’s Your Why?  What’s Your Orange?

            Being orange… What does it mean to be orange?  Is it a value our school puts on a pedestal? Is it just statement that makes the students of OSU feel a sense of community?  It could represent our schools strategic plan that values accountability, diversity integrity, respect, and social responsibility?  Well that’s interesting because the OSU strategic plan just summed up our ethics class.  It contains the importance of knowledge, responsibility, community, citizenship, and being good.

In the world of psychology orange represents our gut instinct or gut reaction, going after your dreams and not looking back. Orange is a positive color the represents optimism and relates to keeping us motivated and helping us look on the bright side of life during tough times.  Try to think of anything negative that has to do with the color orange.  It is definitely a tough task.  It also relates to adventure, risk-taking, confidence, competition, and independence.

The funny thing is to me being orange is much more then a set a values, or a sense of community because you are doing what your suppose to do. I believe being orange is more of an ideal, and emotional connection to our self and our school.  All these other answers to what it means to be orange our based on group for example “the students of OSU are different, we different races, religions, backgrounds” well so does every other college in the world.

We go to school, of course we are held accountable for our actions we pay money to be here they don’t pay us, it’s our job to be honest and respect one another we have been taught that since we were born, and responsibility, if we weren’t responsible we would’ve never put in the effort to be here.  What I am trying to say is being orange is not our duty as students it’s not our job, it’s not something that we can be taught, it’s a choice, it’s our individual why.

Why we worked so hard to get good grades in high school so we can get accepted here, why we get up for early morning classes when we don’t have to, why we study long hours just to make sure our teacher believes we work hard even though we ain’t going to remember half the stuff we learn anyways, why we choose to be here, why we want to succeed as a student here at OSU.  To me being orange is being you… being a teacher who stays up late to correct exams losing precious family time, being a student far away from home fighting to be somebody who will change the world, or being an athlete working hard on and off the field to prove something.

Being orange is being motivated, being passionate, being a believer, having faith in why you choose to be here no matter how tough it gets, being orange following your dreams even your the only one who believes in it.  Being orange is more than some values written on paper, being orange is being you, becoming who want to be, it’s what drives you, because you believe in yourself and your dreams.  Being orange represents your why, your reason for doing what you do every day, so tell me what you want to be?

What’s your why? What’s your orange?

“Be Moral, Be Orange”  December 16th, 2013

Submitted by Brian O’Neal


It must first be said that there are two distinct methods in determining the values of Oregon State University; the method of looking for the information that the University claims to itself, and the method of observation and experience.  These two can appear to be quite contrary at times.  I will first address what the University claims as values for itself, and then state what the values actually appear to be.  This is not to say that the University is going about its obligation poorly, it is merely to say that it is very difficult to implement core values throughout an entire University system.

The OSU strategic plan claims that the values of Oregon State University are to be a diverse, honest, accountable, respectful, and socially responsible environment.  Accountability seems to be referring to the University’s stewardship with the resources that they are being trusted with. This is in reference to the fiscal and physical resources that are given to the school for its use. Cultural diversity is seen by OSU as a means to greater excellence.  The goal of having diversity as a priority is intended to increase the quality of the school’s teaching, the scholarship of the students, and the services that the University is capable of providing.  The claimed value of Integrity is slightly more inclusive than merely integrity, extending also to freedom.  Respect is valued in terms of the way that we treat each other.  The final value set forth by the University as a whole is that of Social Responsibility.  This is to say that we, as a University, contribute to society’s intellectual, cultural, spiritual, and economic progress and well-being to the maximum possible extent.

The mission statement is a great place to look and see where an organization is attempting to go.  That of OSU indicates that, by means of teaching, research, and outreach and engagement, they promote economic, social, cultural and environmental progress throughout the world.  There are three signature areas that OSU focuses on in terms of economy competitiveness: Advancing the science of Earth’s ecosystems, improving human health and wellness, and promoting economic growth and social progress. It is also expressed within the goals that OSU desires to increase funding while strengthening their ability to utilize these resources.

These are a few of the claimed values and initiatives from the top, where the University is when addressed at its core. In order to compare ideals to reality, we must make observations on a more applied level. First to address is where the University stands physically.  In order to see how it is acting out its values toward world progress (intellectual, cultural, etc.) it might be enlightening to see how the University’s money seems to be spent, although this cannot be a complete reflection of the school, as benefactors have the final say as far as where they want there money spent (for example, just because Phil Knight has a strong emphasis on sports, does not necessarily mean that the top core of the University of Oregon has that as a primary value, although they may).  In the time that I have been a student at OSU I have seen various buildings going up as well as the intermural field.  The other buildings are mostly residential, with a couple educational buildings as (research, classrooms etc.). This would suggest a value on health, teaching, technology (Linus Pauling Building), diversity (the INTO building and cultural centers), and, generally, a desire to have a higher student capacity.  These seem to be in good alignment with the core values and mission.

Another source we can look at for clues of the University’s values, are how it portrays itself via the course website.  Throughout my years here, the suggested focus on the website, by observing the headlines posted, has been the accomplishments of OSU students and faculty.  Quite a few of the highlighted achievements are technology based, indicating this as a value.   Publicizing circumstances for underrepresented or minority groups (ethnic minorities, student parents, military, etc.) suggest the value of diversity.  I have also noticed headlines emphasizing social and cultural values, such as students studying abroad and outreach events for young children.

The final method for determining the values of Oregon State University is just the overall feeling after being a student here for four years.  The values of OSU are almost impossible to actually implement.  At the end of every syllabus you see the teachers warning against academic dishonesty.  The teachers rarely even cover this and whether they cover it or not, some students will cheat and some will not.  Respect cannot be regulated by a University to any significant extent.  Some people are respectful some are not, this is a reflection of one’s personal morals, not a particular school.  The other three can be better monitored and improved upon.  Diversity is difficult because even if there are students of different backgrounds, there is no regulating how they intermingle.  Accountability and Social Responsibility seem to be in good control based on the physical direction the University is headed.

From my own observations as a student, I would say that the values of Oregon State University are technology, physical and mental well-being, international diversity, having fun/getting a full “college experience”, and most of all, being economically competitive.

For the most part, I think that the values OSU already have are good.  My values as an individual would not necessarily be the best for a University.  My opinion on the values of OSU is the same for this country as a whole.  The emphasis is on being as busy as possible to maximize the time that you have, all the time.  This even extends to the time when you are not working.  If we are not working we should be actively socializing, or actively attending our personal needs (spiritual, physical, emotional), and then getting back on track towards our goals.  Even the valuable self-realization times have turned into a thing of efficiency.  When we are working, we must be working, when we are sleeping, we must be sleeping, when we are socializing, exercising, or just relaxing, we must be doing these things.  To my observation, the majority of people are going through this path of life to “success” having absolutely no idea why they are doing it.  Some excuses you receive at times can be “so I can better my life”, “so I can have a better paying job”, “I do not have anything else to do”, “stability” or things of the like.  There is this emphasis on being as efficient and hardworking as possible, “bettering the quality of life” and “bettering the world”, with the inevitable end.

Partially, I think this is because we live in a culture that is so seldom faced with death. We see our lives as things that we deserve, or that we work for. We say that the end justifies the means, not remembering the ultimate end.  We see our life out before us and we make plans for it (some people just go with the flow), taking for granted that they will all eventually happen if we work hard enough.

I am by no means indicating that going to college does not help with all of these priorities, nor that these priorities are inherently bad.  If we go to college we are better equipped to solve the big problems of the world.  It leads to a more satisfying life because we have the opportunity to have a career that we choose and enjoy.  There is liberation about it.  The wisdom comes, however, when you approach the grave of the most successful person, or that of the most influential, or the happiest.  Should the goal of life be any of these? I think most people of this society, at some age, at some point in their life, realize what really matters to them.  The devastation fact is that it is often the people who were top in college, and in their career, that find it out last, or never.

This should raise many questions about where our priorities are.  It begs the question as to whether or not the five values of the college are actually in conflict with each other.  It is possible that the value of accountable stewardship and social responsibility, are in conflict with integrity, respect, and diversity.  It could be the case that to strive on toward our goals of world betterment that we destroy the world internally as we are reaching out.

There are many solutions to this problem but none are easy, and indeed, fairly impossible.  It is so difficult because it is the practically successful that control the world, not the wise.  Personally, I think time off before going to college should be the norm.  When you finish high school, you have the basic requirements needed to perform a task.  The emphasis should not be for students to continue on and directly enter into more education, but rather to self-assessment.  This is a term I need to be careful with.  I am not talking about self-assessment in terms of finding out what you want to do with your life, but rather the assessing of what is a life.  The emphasis should be on what it means to be respectful, honest, and loving, and then stop. Not these, and then go and be successful with your life. These can easily be in conflict.  The values should give rise to doing something with your life, rather than doing something with your life giving rise to the values.

I will note a second time, however, that I am not suggesting that education is inherently a bad direction, I am merely stating that the emphasis is in the wrong order.  To teach a student Physics, Math, and Electricity, and then say, “go be an ethical engineer”, will create a person who is capable of performing tasks and the ability to act ethically as an engineer.  The trade came first, and then the values.  Tell as student “behave morally, and do something” will more likely create a person who is mindful of their values as a person, having this be what defines them, the “what” they do is less important than the “who”.

Like I said, the practical implementation of this is difficult if not impossible.  The difference would have to be a societal turnaround.  Teachers in high school and college will need teach differently than how they were taught.  High schools will need to somehow teach students NOT to emphasis education, as their education.  Essentially what I am suggesting is a theocracy, but I do not necessarily believe that theocracies will ever work.  There has been a separation of church and state and we live in the result. The emphasis comes not only from the educational system, but from families, which get their values from the educational systems and then give it back.

Sometimes I wonder how people do not ask bigger questions about themselves.  Not merely what they are, but who they are, and why they are.  The faster the pace of a society, the less likely these questions will ever be addressed.  To exacerbate this problem further, not only are people increasingly less comfortable talking about bigger issues at the fear of offending or persecution, but it is frowned upon.  “Do not impose your beliefs onto others”.  Where does this leave us? In a society where the beliefs are so diminished that most people have none at all.  This leaves a people that are practically fantastic, but spiritually lost.

In an excerpt from Kant’s “Foundations of the Metaphysics of the Morals”, Kant explains that there is only one categorical imperative, and that is that we should only act if we wish that action to become a universal law.  This is the only way in which this implementation of morals could occur.  If it were not a universal implementation that morality was taught above all practical knowledge, the ones being primarily taught the practical knowledge would dominate over those that emphasize morality.   John Stuart Mill in his essay on Utilitarianism, explains that the most correct path is the one that leads to optimum “happiness” for the most amount of people.  Although I do not believe this to be important, I completely believe that if the value of morality was to be emphasized above practical knowledge, the level of “happiness” would increase universally.  This would be a result of the way people treated each other, the sense of satisfaction that people would get from the care of others, as well as the satisfaction that comes from knowing why you are doing what you are doing, and that it is a result of who you are.

This would be difficult to label as a “virtue” in the way Aristotle describes in his second book in “Nicomachean Ethics”.  The good in his mind is the mean between two extremes.  In these terms it may be said that the extremes would be someone who is entirely moral but not at all practical, or the one who is all practical but completely immoral.  This is a stretch, but it could be said that this would then be considered a virtue, even though the extreme is also the label for the mean.  I agree that everyone should be practical to some degree, but not above their morality to any extent.

In our society today, we define ourselves primarily by our practical character and less by our moral character.  This is evident in our educational system, including Oregon State University.  I suggest the change of direction to emphasize the morality of our character by means of our home lives and our educational system.  This will be a very difficult change and will require a massive turnaround, but this does not mean that each individual should not make this decision for themselves to attempt this radical change, leading to an exponential proliferation.