Message from Dr. Belinda S. Miles: Progress on the Pathway – April 23, 2021
April 23, 2021
Twentieth century abolitionist Ida B. Wells said that “the way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth upon them.” The trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin did just this as courageous individuals moved beyond bystander status to bring forward evidence and testimonies that led to conviction, illustrating how our actions can result in the changes we seek. The conviction of Mr. Chauvin in this week’s verdict builds on a long arc of progress on the pathway to equity and change in our nation. It is monumental and historic but does not complete the work needed for justice; it is a moment to pause as we contemplate what’s next.
Our reactions to such news can be immediate, mirroring the “fierce urgency of now” we seek for resolving injustices, or they may come through more deliberate and intentional ways. There is no single or best way to do this. As an inclusive institution, we represent a range of individuals and lived experiences spanning multiple generations, which informs our collective responses to major events. It is okay to be reflective thinkers and bring institutional perspectives, and even personal insights, to bear in such statements.
Supporting our students who have been on the front lines of calls for change is critical. Dialogue is an important tool for strengthening our bonds as a community as we work collectively to improve outcomes. Our shared values help guide our responses, particularly when the moment calls for courageous conversations that move us from self-perspectives to the greater good that we can achieve for more lasting impact. To facilitate such discourse, a Viking S.A.F.E. Space discussion on Justice or Accountability in the Chauvin Trial will be held on Wednesday, April 28 at 11 a.m. via Zoom. This program is co-sponsored by the Office of Student Involvement and the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Register in advance here.
For 75 years, Westchester Community College has been a catalyst for collective action, justice, accountability, and social mobility. While we are still writing the story of our contributions to these objectives, our commitment to evidence-based practices that lead to continuous improvement is unwavering. This week’s headlines and Earth Day recognitions may signal the need for bolder communication of our action plans and accomplishments regarding equity, diversity, inclusion, non-discrimination, environmental sustainability, and institutional stewardship, all of which further our own trajectory toward equitable outcomes for students. This is a work in progress, and there is progress in our work: our collective actions have already led to substantial increases in graduation rates and measurable increases of on-campus diversity.
One of our highly successful graduates, Dr. Sean Saadat ‘08, will be the commencement speaker on May 13, joining the virtual ceremony from Seattle where he is an accomplished Data Engineer at Microsoft Corporation after earning multiple degrees following his time at WCC. His stories of triumph reveal how his progress pathway has led to more opportunity and capacity to serve. Let’s remain inspired as we continue to improve ourselves, our relationship with others, and the broader community each day.
Dr. Belinda S. Miles