Conducting yourself in the MESA center – balancing the academic and the social.
MESA is first and foremost an academic organization, and the MESA center must provide an environment where students can complete academic work and study effectively. Social vs. Academic. If social behaviors and academic behaviors are in conflict, academic always prevails. In practice, this means that you need to be aware of your surroundings, and if your social conversation is potentially distracting to someone who is studying or doing homework, either stop or take the conversation outside. Similarly, if others are talking about non-academic topics, and you need to concentrate, it is OK to kindly ask them to stop so that you can effectively study. If everyone understands this and cooperates, everyone benefits.
Topics of conversation in MESA. Discussions on a wide range of topics regularly happen in MESA, and that is good. In addition to classroom and academic topics, science news, public policy, and current events are always welcome. So too are respectful discussions of politics, religion, culture and just about any other topic. Thinking, sharing, debating and deliberating are all excellent learning opportunities, and that is what MESA promotes. What makes a topic appropriate is the fact that it is considered through respectful discussion. Name-calling, proselytizing, and deliberate antagonizing are not appropriate. Neither is gossip or discussions of others personal affairs. Finally, within hearing of others, discussion of topics that would cause embarrassment or discomfort is not appropriate. That is always a judgment call, so be cautious and if anyone questions if it is an appropriate topic for MESA, stop.
Racist and Sexist Commentary is strictly prohibited in MESA. MESA is an organization that values and is inclusive of all cultures, languages, racial backgrounds, and sexual orientations. For this very reason and out of respect for everyone who is part of MESA, any racial or sexual hegemonic and degrading commentary will not be tolerated inside the MESA Center. MESA Tutors and Program Assistants are always around to speak with you if you are the victim or the author of such commentary. MESA is a safe environment for ALL people.
Languages spoken in MESA. Being able to communicate in multiple languages is an important skill for scientists and engineers working in a global environment. Still, when people speak in a language that is not understood by others, there is the potential for those who do not understand to feel left out, or even concerned that they are the topic of discussion, even if that is far from the case. If you speak multiple languages, keep this in mind and do what is best to make everyone feel included. It is always a good thing to invite others to learn your language, and share with them some of the simple communication phrases.
Clubs and student organizations. MESA welcomes student clubs and organizations to use the facilities. Students often plan club meetings in the MESA center, which is an appropriate use of the space. But finding the balance between academic and social applies to these functions also. Club events should be preferably scheduled at times when MESA is least busy. Club leaders and members have the responsibility to make sure that their meeting does not negatively affect other students ability to study.