As colleges and universities across the nation experience an increase in bias incidents, the Edmonds Community College Faculty Senate has reaffirmed its commitment to inclusion and respect for diversity.
The senate recently approved a resolution to “embrace and support diversity of ethnicity, religion, gender, gender identity, race, sexual orientation, citizenship, national origin, ability, and political diversity.”
“In the wake of a growing number of reports of intolerance directed against immigrants, people of different faiths, the LGBTQ community, ethnic minorities, women, people with special conditions, and others, it is essential that colleges and educators step forward to emphasize that such intolerance is contrary to the principles of higher education,” said Faculty Senate Council President David Breed.
The resolution also strengthens the college’s resolve to welcome students from around the U.S. and the world to a “safe, respectful campus free from sexism, bigotry, harassment, oppression, and fear.”
In addition to the resolution passed Nov. 23, a group of faculty and staff held an informal one-day lecture series, called “Valuing Our Diverse Community,” where faculty members from the paralegal, history, and anthropology departments addressed the current political climate. The event was open to the campus community.
“The goal was to start a conversation about creating a climate of inclusion,” said faculty member Melody Schneider. “One of the college’s values is that we require equity and mutual respect, so how do we make sure that’s true?”
Schneider said this is the beginning of a broader, continuing conversation between students, faculty, and staff to address the issue of creating a safe learning environment for all on campus.
Over the past few weeks, there have been other campus-wide efforts to provide safe spaces for students and staff to talk about feelings of uncertainty during this time of political transition.
The Center for Student Engagement and Leadership held an informal fireside chat for students to share their views and concerns. A Real Talk forum, which encourages open and courageous conversations around equity, inclusion, and race, was also held to discuss how to proactively create a safe, kind, and caring climate on campus and in the community.
“This has truly been a community effort to have multiple conversations that are open and respectful of all parties,” Edmonds CC President Dr. Jean Hernandez said.
Hernandez has also been in support of state- and nation-wide efforts to protect the rights of DACA students, or students who are protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program for undocumented, immigrant students.
The college’s name was added to a letter from the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges to President-elect Trump in support of keeping DACA in place.
On Dec. 7, Hernandez joined more than 500 educational leaders from colleges and universities throughout the nation as a signatory to the “Statement in Support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program and our Undocumented Immigrant Students” led by Pomona College in California.
“Edmonds Community College is committed to respectful and civil behavior from all employees and students, and promotes and maintains a safe, healthy, and professional learning and working environment for all,” Hernandez said.