Standing Against Bigotry
Feb. 5, 2016
This week, as the primary season draws increasing attention to the presidential election, I urge us all to be well informed about the candidates and the issues. Many of our students are working on campaigns compelling to them, and I commend their participation in the process, and their active engagement in their futures.
But we cannot stand back ourselves, or remain silent, in the face of the escalating political rhetoric that threatens many of our core values as an institution. We hear presidential candidates demonize entire communities of immigrants, and the refugees fleeing their exploding country. We hear a call to ban Muslims from entering—or re-entering—the United States. We witness the mocking of disabled persons, and the display of crude sexism.
We cannot remain silent in the face of these hateful tropes, of which racism and xenophobia have been among the most prominent. We are fortunate to live in a region of vibrant diversity, where immigrants are integral to the fabric of our towns and cities; where our economy depends on collaboration and cooperation across difference; and where weaving a community of multiple languages and cultures is central to our future.
Moreover, our mission as a college, and our core values, call for mutual respect among our many students and their histories and cultures. It cannot be easy for students to hear their own communities threatened, or those of their classmates. We must remain sensitive to how our students are affected by the hateful rhetoric and speak out against it, however far away we imagine it.
“Imagine” is the operative word here. Even in the face of our commitments and values, the campus itself is not immune. It is deeply saddening that a gender-neutral restroom was defaced recently with graffiti threatening violence to transgender students. The police have categorized the vandalism as a hate crime. While the graffiti was quickly removed, its shadow is a reminder that expressions of hatred can have a deep and unsettling effect on our students. It must be countered by our commitment to respect and safety for all, and embodied in our speaking out and acting.
Please contact the Equity Office at firstname.lastname@example.org for information on opportunities to engage in ongoing campus efforts to build respect and equity. Please also see specific LGBT resources here: www.deanza.edu/equityoffice/lgbtq.html.
De Anza is committed to celebrating diversity, and developing a culture of mutual respect and inclusion. In that spirit, I urge you to celebrate Black History Month, and honor the contributions of African Americans in the face of grave and systemic injustice. In that same spirit, I urge us all to stand in solidarity with those experiencing discrimination or downright hatred based on their race or ethnicity, gender identity or sexual orientation, religion, disability or economic class. In that spirit, I urge us all to be clear and vocal in defense of our diverse community. It is an obligation of our role as a public institution, and it is an ethical commitment.