MCC Daily Tribune

Special Message from the President

Some of you may have heard about a recent social media post by an MCC student. On its own, the post, which included a racist slur, was offensive, but in the current context, this post spoke to a larger concern about the cultural climate we find ourselves in and--more importantly--the institutional climate we must commit ourselves to making.

Integrity and equity are central to Monroe Community College's mission. The College rejects discrimination, in any and all forms. The opportunity and welcome all students find at MCC is a testament to the power of diversity. Excellence in higher education cannot exist apart from shared purpose, and inclusiveness is one of MCC's core values.

Because we value diversity, we must recognize that it comes in many forms--including diversity of thought. Members of our community may make statements (in person, in print, in digital spaces) that we find offensive and with which we fundamentally disagree. Freedom of speech is both a constitutional right and a cornerstone of academic freedom that has made this nation's colleges and universities a global beacon.

We also must acknowledge, though, that freedom of speech is such a core American principle because words matter. They have weight. They have impact. They shape us, and at MCC, they shape our learning environment. In so many ways, conflict is at the heart of the academic experience. The conflict between ideas, philosophies, theories, disciplines, discoveries: these tensions have moved knowledge forward. However, outside of this academic grounding, conflict can easily turn on itself and spin out of control. Where there was once debate, we find hostility; where there may have been dialogue, we find attacks.

We have a shared responsibility for the duty of civility and understanding we owe to our colleagues and our students. We cannot look to others to safeguard the quality of our learning environment and the health of our community. The value of an MCC education rests in our mutual commitment to our values and in the way we value each other. We may disagree, we may debate, but when we begin to debase and devalue each other, something truly invaluable is lost. I call on all of us to re-dedicate ourselves to assuring our College is welcoming, that it nurtures the transformational learning that both connects and challenges our colleagues and our students to further knowledge and discovery.

This student's social media post offers a teachable moment for MCC: an opportunity to discuss our responsibility for assuring an equitable and welcoming learning environment for the full diversity of our community. Today and Tuesday, we will hold Open Forums for the MCC community to share their ideas about how we can live our values and learn from this troubling incident. I invite our students, faculty, and staff to join me Monday at noon at the Downtown Campus in High Falls A & B, and Tuesday at noon at the Brighton Campus in the Warshof Conference Center, Monroe A & B. In the coming weeks, Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer Lloyd Holmes, along with the Diversity Committee, will be sharing additional opportunities for you to become informed and engaged. I hope you will.

Kress, Anne
Office of the President
10/02/2017