On Feb. 8, SCC president Cheryl Roberts sent out an email addressing the rise of civic involvement and the need to maintain an environment accepting of differing opinions. The Ebbtide has decided to publish Roberts’ email in this issue to reach students who don’t regularly check their campus email, as well as to reiterate our support for a more inclusive environment here at SCC. Roberts’ words reflect what should be the mission of every academic institution — to teach indiscriminately to those who are willing to learn. And in light of the changes that are yet to come, we here at the Ebbtide will also remain committed to working towards maintaining the rights of our students, whether they be freedom to assemble or freedom of religion, through accurate and fair reporting.
Recently, our nation has witnessed a large amount of civic engagement and the passionate exchange of many divergent viewpoints. As a public community college, we are obliged to both uphold the right to free speech and expression and affirm our identity as a respectful and inclusive learning community.
As always, all of us at the college, including our Board of Trustees, want our campus to remain a place of open inquiry and learning, with leadership that models the ideals set out in our Community Standard. While we may be uncomfortable with differing points of view, our common standard is to hold these conversations in a respectful manner.
Should you observe any acts of harassment on campus, I ask that you do the following three things:
1. Alert Safety and Security (or law enforcement if needed)
2. Report the incident to the Community Standard email box we have established: [email protected]
3. Share the incident with your instructor or administrator as needed
It is important that the college be able to track any incidents of harassment or vandalizing of college property (including posters), so that an appropriate investigation and response can be made, and any trends can be identified.
At the same time, I want each of us to consider that conflicting or controversial viewpoints are not inherently a violation of our community standard. In fact, the ability to share different points of view is at the heart of free speech and expression. Therefore, it is important for us to understand that speech, expressions or opinions that some people may find offensive are not necessarily in violation of any protected rights or the college’s shared standard of behavior. What our community standard affirms is the respect we expect when we engage in lively debate and the actions we will not tolerate as a campus community.
This week, I am working with a group of faculty, staff, and administrators to plan some college-wide conversations around navigating freedom of speech, expression, and our community standard. As a college, we must remain steadfast in our commitment to creating a respectful, welcoming environment for all.
Cheryl Roberts, Ed.D.
Shoreline Community College