At Montgomery College, one simple truth drives the ethos of our work: no student is expendable and no portion of our community does not belong to us. The health, safety, and prosperity of our collective demands that anchor institutions such as Montgomery College acknowledge the pain, fear, and disillusionment that exist for our students, employees, and community members. We are not the same after the events of this past week. They have manifested what many have felt for some time: our nation is at risk, our systems are fractured, and our community is vulnerable. The death of George Floyd and so many before him must not be divorced from deep currents that were always just beneath the surface: economic and social inequality, inconsistent accountability in law enforcement, a glaring absence of a moral compass in White House leadership, an exaggerated use of military force in domestic situations, and rhetoric that recalls violence against people of color in this country. It is a palimpsest of racism in this country.
Black lives matter.
Just as we have declared and embraced our mutuality with immigrant and undocumented communities, LGBTQ+ communities, and Muslim communities, Montgomery College recognizes how racism and xenophobia continue to endanger too many. Violence and injustice only beget more violence and injustice—destroying opportunities for authentic and impactful healing and transformation. This is a crucible moment for our nation and community; will the progeny of systematic and generational hate and violence be our birthright as a nation? Are we satisfied with that outcome? We must reconcile who we claim to be with who we really are and hope to become.
Black lives matter—especially in this moment.
We need a notion of radical inclusion that is omnipresent: a deep-seated and profound recognition that inclusion and equity cannot exist in the absence of justice, empathy, compassion, and truth. This moment isn’t about high rhetoric, wrapping benign platitudes in gratuitous sentimentality or blatant obfuscation. It is about the deep and painful work of truth-telling, reconciliation, and community building. Justice and truth are always preconditions for peace and compassion.
I can think of no better community in which to lead an organization to engage in this type of work. I have profound hope in the gloriously rich diversity of Montgomery College to influence meaningful action and advance purposeful decisions that create a more just community. We are the community’s college—committed to reinforcing civil engagement by members of the MC community, creating safe spaces to engage in public discourse, contributing intellectual fortitude to craft community solutions, and acknowledging our own need for growth and development for students and employees alike. The Montgomery College Equity and Inclusion Roadmap for Success (2020) explicates our specific commitments to build a stronger and more just community:
- Improve retention, and completion rates of all students, particularly African American male and Latinx students
- Improve employee recruitment, hiring, on-boarding, development, and training procedures and practices to attract and retain a diverse workforce to include leaders, managers, faculty, and staff reflective of the College’s diverse student population
- Foster a college culture of equity, inclusion, civility, accessibility, kindness, trust, and respect for human dignity through targeted programs, activities and educational opportunities
- Integrate relevant and equitable multicultural teaching practices that infuse awareness into the educational experience, classrooms, and curriculum
- Support diversity and inclusion in our staff, faculty, students, community, and business populations
- Provide increased opportunities for the College’s communities to foster equity and economic empowerment
The events of this past week have only deepened our commitment to these goals. I am grateful for the care with which these values inform our mission: to empower students to change their lives and to enrich the life of our community. This is our pledge to our entire community—and we will be accountable for our results.