In the fall of 2003, a small group of students objected to a series of unscientific national rankings that painted the University of Colorado at Boulder with a less-than-desirable brush. They disagreed with the rankings because the data presented something far different from their own experiences at CU. The students were motivated to take action in the form of an ad campaign.
The seeds of the Colorado Creed grew from the success of that campaign. The Creed is a code of conduct, a lifestyle by which students, faculty, and staff at CU-Boulder live.
The Colorado Creed isn't new in some respects. It was founded in spirit in 1876, and has thrived on the merits of generations of CU students and community members since then. It is based on upholding strong values, making the right decisions, and being responsible for those decisions.
Story of the Creed
The Colorado Creed originated in response to misleading ratings from the Princeton Review that portrayed aspects of CU’s culture that did not represent the true climate on or off campus. After the review rated CU the number one party school in the nation in 2003, a group of students quickly formed out of a desire to do something to inform the public that the CU they attended was not the CU in the media. These students engaged in a campaign to inform the public of the unscientific nature and invalidity of the Review’s rankings, but they quickly realized a desire for something more. Rather than attack CU’s adversaries, these students wanted to share their passion and love for their university with the world.
In the fall of 2004, the members of the group that had advocated against the Princeton Review the year before officially formed the Colorado Creed. The Creed is a code of conduct, a lifestyle, and a way of life. It is a response to the daily pressures that wear on a college student, as well as the exceptional circumstances that can unfortunately arise over the course of a year. The Creed is about taking responsibility for our actions, good and bad, and living by the tenets of respect, accountability, acceptance, honor, and integrity. Every single student, faculty, and staff member is a part of the Colorado Creed. The Creed--while not written down until 2004--has been part of CU’s culture and spirit since 1876 when the university was founded.
The power of individuals is key to the success of the Creed. Every single person can make a difference. The Colorado Creed found its roots when a small group of students contacted the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs and told him of their desire to make positive change on the campus culture and in the attitudes of the public. They wanted the world to know of the incredible opportunities and assets that CU possesses. CU’s Nobel Laureates, the National Professor of the Year, world-class faculty and hundreds of student groups working to affect change slipped to the background in the midst of the “party school” rankings. These first students demanded a change, and took action to take back their university. They held meetings and forums, visited student groups, and gathered support from staff and administrators. They studied other creeds around the country, and over the course of a semester came up with the Colorado Creed you see today.
From the beginning, the Creed was never meant to be their vision for the campus; rather it was an articulation of what students thought their campus already was and could be. After securing an initial budget from the Office of the Chancellor, they made plaques with the text of the Creed on it, and hung them at the student union, the recreation center, Folsom Field, Coors Event Center, the library, and the University Club. They also got the key words of the Creed engraved in flagstones and installed them in the walkways around campus. Next, they turned to help out with diversity training at summer orientations for incoming students. In fact, the application essay for admission to CU is based wholly on the Creed. After meeting with the Athletic Director, they were able to have Creed Day at both a football and basketball game and hand out t-shirts with the Creed’s motto (“Live It!”) to promote awareness. They are currently working on creating an adopt-a-block program with the city, implementing a RESPECT campaign, and taking applications for the Colorado Creed Community Contest. The Creed has also volunteered around the city to help out with various community service projects.
The Colorado Creed's success is due to the passion of a few students and a sustained grassroots level movement by the entire campus and Boulder communities. It is from the students and for the students. Every school, fraternity, sorority, and athletic team lives by the tenets of the Creed. Though the Colorado Creed is specific to the University of Colorado, anybody can formulate their own creed and live by its ideals. We encourage you to have open discussions about how the ideals of the Creed affect your daily life and the community around you. Most importantly, remember to Live It!
If you would like more information about the Colorado Creed, it origins, or how you can start a Creed on your campus, contact any of the creed committee members, or email Bette Sellers-Anderson at Bette.Sellers-Anderson@colorado.edu.