Message from Dr. Belinda S. Miles: Fostering an Intentionally Inclusive Culture – April 9, 2021
April 9, 2021
Recently we have heard anonymous reports about racism or discrimination within our organization. These reports call each of us to stop and focus on what areas of our culture, language, and behavior may need to be improved or eliminated and examine how our words and actions may be perceived by others. We do this because we understand that discrimination is unlawful, hurtful, and counter to our core institutional mission and values. We do not tolerate racism or discrimination at Westchester Community College.
Following a recent survey and town hall conducted by our Student Government Association, our students voted on three resolutions focused on discrimination: the Student Support Act; the Student Protection Act; and the Dignity and Respect Act. Survey findings the resolutions address are as follows: students reported feeling discriminated against at some point while attending Westchester Community College; some reported feeling afraid to report on discrimination for fear of retaliation; and others indicated that they did not know how or where to report such matters. More information on reporting incidents of discrimination is here.
While neither involving formal reports or investigations nor representing most respondents, it is disconcerting to hear these survey results. It is concerning that even one student would be reluctant to report a situation perceived to be threatening for fear of retaliation. That even one student would think that this administration, our senior leadership, and our employees do not take every reported incident very seriously. That even one student would think that we do not have systems in place to investigate and rectify any wrongdoing by any member of the college community. It is time to review systems, policies, and procedures to overhaul any aspect of our practices that are not consistent with an environment that is welcoming and non-threatening.
We are grateful that our Student Government rallied to bring these difficult issues to light. We will work through our shared governance processes to continue improving our college and to address all messages and interactions found to be discriminatory, non-inclusive, or biased. Central to our mission and objectives for diversity, equity, and inclusion is our unwavering commitment to create an environment where all members of our college community are valued. We will take deliberate action to foster an intentionally inclusive college culture that celebrates diversity, equity, and inclusion. Our values guide this work and our commitment to excellence.
Dr. Belinda S. Miles