Message from Dr. Belinda S. Miles-November 22, 2019
November 22, 2019
At its regular meeting this week, the Board of Trustees announced that Governor Andrew Cuomo has appointed Susan Gerry, Westchester Medical Center’s Senior Vice President for Strategic Alliances and Partnerships, to the college’s board. Trustee Gerry’s appointment further strengthens the college’s connections with the region’s critically important and expanding healthcare industry, and she brings extensive community partnership experiences to the college. She will fill the seat held by Betsy Stern, whose term has expired. The Trustees intend to recognize Trustee Stern’s distinguished service with a proclamation at its December 18th meeting. While departing the college board after 10 years of loyal advocacy, Trustee Stern remains a significant ally and connector as a member of the Foundation Board of Directors.
Last week, you may have noticed demonstrators outside of the Gateway Center that coincided with a public meeting of the Campaign Finance Reform Committee held at the college. The nature of the Committee’s work invited debate, which was on display when the Commission selected the college as one of its meeting locations. We thank the community members who have taken notice and inquired about the procedures for mitigating disruptions under these circumstances.
Westchester Community College policy affirms and defends First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and peaceable assembly. We recognize the importance of ensuring such activities are conducted in a manner that does not interfere with or disrupt the normal functioning of the college. Accordingly, we have protocols in place to assign demonstration spaces that do not obstruct ingress and egress from buildings, prohibit the use of amplification devices, and limit the use of demonstration signs to outdoor spaces only. The Office of Campus Security, in coordination with county and state law enforcement, takes measures to prevent disruptions to the peaceful and orderly conduct of classes, lectures, and/or meetings and to protect the freedom of any person to express their views peacefully.
Our strategic plan calls for exploring new ways to generate revenue to complement public financial support and to offset periods of enrollment decline. Expanding our facility rental and reservation program is one way that we are increasing community partnerships and bringing new resources to the college. All facility use complies with established policies and procedures, including those that protect First Amendment rights and may occasionally result in the kind of public discourse and debate as we saw last week. These elements of a strong democracy may also contribute to student learning and civic engagement—key components of a liberal education.
Dr. Belinda S. Miles