Below is a message to the College community from Dr. Sofia Ramos, PCC’s Interim Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer, following the tragedy in Charlottesville, Va., over the weekend.
As we prepare for the upcoming school year and the return of our students to campus, our thoughts are with the families affected by the tragic events that unfolded in Charlottesville, Virginia, and all of us who bear witness.
Pima Community College stands firm in embracing our rich differences in identity, religion, heritage and ability as cornerstones of excellence. We remain committed to engaging our entire community in weaving diversity and inclusion into our institutional fabric and beyond.
While national events bring pain and threaten to divide us, with the support of Chancellor Lambert and Provost Durán-Cerda, Pima will continue to build community and encourage acceptance and understanding around civility, diversity and inclusion topics through periodic gatherings in a series called Inclusion Matters.
Every day is an opportunity to spread kindness, goodness and to honor our unique identities, cultures, traditions and history. We look forward to the start of the new year and to working together as a community to create positive change.
Earlier today, I sent the following message to all College employees:
In December 2015, I wrote to the College community regarding our commitment to diversity and inclusion. Recently, some states have considered or enacted legislation that undermines anti-discrimination protections for the LGBTQ community. Thus, it is timely and appropriate to reiterate our ongoing pledge to live up to the College Value of People. Our Diversity Statement proclaims in part:
We cherish the diversity of our community and, in addition to equal opportunity and educational access for all, we respect and are inclusive of all beliefs, values, abilities, personal experiences and preferences, cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds, and worldviews. We believe our differences are our strength and a source of innovation, excellence, and competitiveness. [More information is available on our Diversity webpage.]
PCC is committed to adhering to all federal, state and local laws and regulations regarding institutions of higher education. Among these is the U.S. Department of Education’s Title IX statute, which protects students from discrimination on the basis of gender in education programs or activities that receive federal support.
Apart from laws and regulations, the College considers it a moral imperative to make our campuses places where all students, employees and community members feel secure and welcome, so they can focus on studies and activities that lead to student success. Together we remain resolved to move forward on the path leading to a multicultural society built on a foundation of civility, equity and social justice.
In June, I presented at the Harvard Colloquium on Abrasive Conduct in Higher Education. I had presented at the 2014 colloquium. Last year, I described deficiencies at PCC described by the Higher Learning Commission, the College’s accreditor, and our response, as chronicled in our Self-Study Report.
In this year’s presentation, I outlined new changes at PCC to meet our challenges. These include employee committee review of policies and practices, civility training for more than 1,300 employees, Supervision in the 21st Century leadership training, College-wide sexual harassment response training, and efforts by our Institutional Climate Cooperative.
The goal of these efforts, simply put: Less meanness. More civility. More respect. More communication. More niceness.
This was the third annual colloquium on abrasiveness. There likely will be a fourth and a fifth. Culture change in higher education requires clear expectations, effective communication and acceptance of collective responsibility. It takes time, as we at PCC know. The hope is meetings on the topic will eventually be unnecessary.