November 21, 2023
Dear Berkeley City College Community,
I would like to take a moment to express my gratitude for each of you and all that you do to support the success of our students. This is not easy work, but supporting our students in the process of transforming their lives is what makes our profession so rewarding.
I have been reflecting on Berkeley City College’s many accomplishments, such as our new Hispanic Serving Institution grant and recognition as a Champion of Higher Education for the sixth year in a row. We have felt BCC’s vibrancy and spirit during Latinx Heritage Month, Undocumented Student Action Week, the Hue Are You? Art exhibition on the 4th floor, and other events and festivities this Fall. I am so grateful for the abundant brilliance and talent that exists in our students and on our campus, and I look forward to our continued progress and celebrating BCC’s 50-year history in the Spring.
Another important aspect of our work is facilitating the freedom of expression. Over the past several months there have been many thoughts and ideas shared about events taking place throughout the world. Our responsibility as educators is to encourage this discourse and provide opportunities for two of the fundamental principles of our society, freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. Next week representatives from all of our constituent groups will meet to establish a clear framework for supporting these principles in a manner that honors the culture of respect and civility that Berkeley City College is built upon.
Recently a set of guidelines for dialogue was shared with our Academic Senate President, Matthew Freeman, from ASCCC via the University of Michigan Program on Intergroup Relations (IGR). I hope you find them as insightful as I have:
- Be true to yourself. We want to create an atmosphere for open, honest exchange.
- Commit to learning from each other. Listen to each other and acknowledge that we all come from different backgrounds, skills, interests, abilities, and values. We realize that it is these very differences that will increase our awareness and understanding through this process.
- Acknowledge each other’s experiences. We will not devalue people for their experiences, lack of experiences, or difference in interpretation of those experiences.
- Trust that others are doing the best they can. We will try not to ‘freeze people in time’ but leave space for everyone to learn and change through our interactions with one another.
- Challenge the idea and not the person. If we wish to challenge something that has been said, we will challenge the idea or the practice referred to, not the individual sharing this idea or practice.
- Speak your discomfort. If something is bothering you and you are open to sharing, please share it with the group. Often our emotional reactions to this process offer the most valuable learning opportunities.
- Step Up, Step Back. Be mindful of taking up much more space than others. On the same note, empower yourself to speak up when others are dominating the conversation.
Being part of such a diverse and equity focused campus community is a profound opportunity to positively impact change in our community and beyond. So, enjoy this time away and join me as we come back refreshed and ready to finish the semester strong.
Wishing you a peaceful and joyful holiday weekend!