RCC's Diversity Statement
Rockland Community College embraces diversity at the core of our educational mission. Diversity is the responsibility of all College constituencies: students, faculty, staff, department chairs/heads, supervisors, administrators, the President and the Board of Trustees.
Rockland Community College fosters an environment that attracts, recruits, supports and retains faculty, staff, and students who value diversity. The College promotes a collegial and inclusive environment by recognizing, promoting, embracing, respecting and celebrating the expansive range and dimensions of cultures, attitudes, ideas and viewpoints contained within our campus community.
Embracing and fostering diversity encompasses a level of tolerance and respect, without judgment, for a multiplicity of traditions and cultures, which include not only race and gender, but age, citizenship, class, economic status, educational attainment, ethnicity, gender identity, mental ability, military status, physical appearance, physical ability, political affiliation, political beliefs, religion, religious beliefs, sex identity, sexual orientation, social status, spiritual practice, and other ideologies/identifications.
It is essential that our College, in its entirety, encompass diversity; therefore, we are committed to ensure equal opportunity and to sustain a climate of civility for all who work, study or visit.
Approved by the Board of Trustees – January 2015
Dear RCC Community,
As you know, the world is trying to recover from the ravages of COVID-19. It has been quite challenging. Compounding this crisis, we must also face the fact that across the U.S. in recent weeks, there have been several deeply disturbing events that have shaken us. I know that we share a deep sense of pain and loss from what we are seeing and experiencing in our community and our country. These events have inspired me to write to you today.
I realize that there are diverse opinions about what is happening, why it is happening, and where we go from here. I believe however we can all agree with the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” No words that I could write could undo the pain, anger, or sadness we may feel right now.
What I can say is that I am proud to lead Rockland Community College, an institution which prides itself in having as one of its core values social consciousness. We are an institution that will continue to prepare our students to be agents of positive social change. While we will not teach students what to think, we will continue to foster in them a desire to expand their thinking, recognizing the importance of citizenship and their responsibility to be contributors to the common good.
Students have always been on the vanguard of great change movements in our country. Now more than ever our nation needs citizens that will stand up against violence of all forms, racism, sexism, classism and all isms and phobias that bring division and inhibit our nation from being its best version of itself.
While we may not physically be together right now, each of you is in my heart and thoughts. I continue to hope that you and your families are faring well during these extraordinary times. I remain grateful for what you are all doing to collectively help Rockland Community College, guide our students and support our community.
Dr. Michael A. Baston
Rockland Community College
As presidents of the 30 SUNY community colleges we have been shaken by the recent and abhorrent, race-related tragedies throughout our nation. Together we stand with those harmed by racism, discrimination and hatred that has plagued our communities for far too long and our resolve and commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion have never been greater.
Community colleges are a beacon of hope for many who pursue higher education and while we often celebrate our diversity for the strength and enrichment it brings, we recognize that we are not immune to its challenges. As higher education institution leaders, we believe strongly in and work every day to fight injustice of any kind, including racial injustice. We are individually and collectively committed to learn, listen, and work to change policies in our institutions and in our respective communities that negatively impact our students and employees of color.
Racial equality and social justice are ideals inextricably linked to our mission, while hate and fear are anathema to our spirit and beliefs. We are committed to treating all members of our community with respect, protecting them from injustice, and ensuring that their voices are heard.
We also know that action is important to make change and, as presidents, we agree to take the following actions to support inclusive activities on our campuses:
- Create town hall sessions or educational series on social justice, antiracism, and equity for all students, faculty and staff at our college,
- Enhance cultural competency training for all who lead our institutions, and who deliver our courses, programs, and services; and
- Evaluate data to address disproportionate outcomes and identify issues of inequity and disparate treatment.
Together, and with our collective resources to reach hundreds of thousands of individuals through education, we will create greater equity and justice for all the students, faculty, and staff in our colleges and impact our surrounding communities and the state. We can do better, and we are committed to doing so now and in the future.
The Presidents of SUNY’s Community Colleges
We are the NY Association of Community College Chief Student Affairs Officers. We represent 30 SUNY community colleges across New York State, including over 200,000 students from diverse backgrounds.
We are dedicated to the communities we serve. And as communities across our country are bearing painful witness to the impacts of systemic racism and civil unrest, we will work with our community partners to foster lasting unity and eliminate discrimination in all its forms.
We deeply value human dignity, equity and open access, and as our values are being tested during unprecedented pandemic conditions, exasperating emotion on top of emotion, we act with conscientiousness, belief, and humanity.
We are educators at our core. As such, our responsibility to educate informed citizens is more important now than ever. We will continue to actively engage our students, communities and peers in learning how to confront abuses of power, how to dissect the excuses of privilege, and how to heal from the trauma of systemic oppression.
We pledge to recommit ourselves to the necessary and urgent work of racial equity of Black, Brown, and Indigenous people and to engage in meaningful advocacy as professionals.
NYACCCSAO Racial Equity Action Plan:
- We will continue to challenge and empower our students to grow their competencies by creating opportunities for leadership development, civic engagement; and meaningful programs that promote social justice, equity and inclusion.
- We commit to partner with our campus Chief Diversity Officers/Diversity Task Forces to offer a series of courageous conversations on diversity, equity, and inclusion that bridge campus dialogue with local community leaders including law enforcement and government officials.
- We commit to our own continual growth as Student Affairs practitioners by making sure when we assemble as a group that our professional development includes topics on social justice. equity and inclusion.
Signed by all members with institutional affiliation
June 10, 2020
The Faculty Council of Community Colleges represents the faculty of all thirty of SUNY’s community colleges in New York State. In our roles as educators, we must speak out regarding the recent killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and far too many others as well as the subsequent protests world-wide. We are appalled by these race-related deaths but also encouraged by the determination and diversity of the many peaceful protesters. This demonstrates that the people are leading their governments toward significant change.
Our role as community college faculty gives us a unique opportunity to participate in effecting this change. We must proactively build into our curricula, our programs, departments, and classes a clear understanding of social and racial injustice, past and present, and we must never shy away from confronting these difficult and uncomfortable conversations. Because they are antithetical to a civil society, we must educate our students about how social and racial injustice affects a convergence of living conditions from educational outcomes, to employment and underemployment, to healthcare, to negative interactions with law enforcement, to incarceration rates. As the faculty, we have more interactions with our students than any other members of our college communities, and so we must model the equitable and fair treatment of under-represented minorities for students of all identities and backgrounds to witness.
We are aware, also, that only to call out bigotry, xenophobia, sexism, race-related violence, and other manifestations of prejudice and hatred is not enough, and while we support the free exchange of ideas, we are responsible for promoting fact-based understandings of history and society and balance this with the need to maintain a safe learning environment for all students.
Therefore, we resolve to:
- Participate in campus-based programs, presentations, and forums designed to increase awareness of and solutions to matters of anti-racism, social and racial injustice, and inclusion;
- Work to support recruitment and retention of students, faculty, and staff from under-represented segments of our society;
- Create in our classrooms and campuses an intellectual space for all where, through civil discourse, ideas are shared and voices can be heard;
We are community colleges and we must engage and involve the members of our communities in programs, forums, and other opportunities to learn, share, and grow. Our colleges affect our communities far beyond the borders of our campuses. Working together, our communities, our administrations, our faculty, staff, and students can help reshape our world and move us all closer to true equity, inclusion, and change.
WHEREAS, public institutions of higher education are facilitators of the limitless growth potential of all people, with the charge to instill in students a belief that every person deserves to live with dignity, be valued for their inherent humanity, and be treated ethically; and
WHEREAS, it is clear a commitment to equity and equal justice must be demonstrated by public institutions of higher education, like Rockland Community College, which are the nation’s best hope for building scholar citizens prepared and committed to address structural weaknesses such as those highlighted most recently by COVID-19’s discrepancy in equity on communities of color and the trauma of tragedies that continue to plague our nation’s vulnerable communities. and
WHEREAS, a public institution of higher education, Rockland Community College recognizes that there is always more learning to be done and will continue to look for ways to be more effective at serving the needs of students and supporting with intentionality the inclusion of the voices and contributions of employees who are part of the awakening climate in our communities; and
WHEREAS, Rockland Community College is uniquely positioned to serve as a beacon of hope which often brings together civic, industry, public and nonprofit leaders, activist, academics, and our community to address the most pressing issues facing our campus, city, state, country and world; and
WHEREAS, Rockland Community College can now leverage the important work of Guided Pathways to intentionally advance a comprehensive equity agenda that not only benefits our students, but staff and faculty as well; and
WHEREAS, Rockland Community College has begun to galvanize the critical conversations in its Steps Beyond Statements initiative that will ensure its continuing strategic culture change building on a key value of the College in the way it approaches its work, social consciousness; be it therefore
RESOLVED, the Rockland Community College Board of Trustees stands firmly against bigotry, prejudice, discrimination, and inequity in all forms, both institutional and individual; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the Rockland Community College Board of Trustees wishes to affirm the statements of President Michael Baston, The New York Community College Association of Presidents, the SUNY Faculty Council of Community Colleges and NY Association of Community College Chief Student Affairs Officers, Inc. and we are committed to listen to, and work alongside our students, staff, and faculty and ensure they are equipped with the tools and support they need to help Rockland Community College become a model institution of inclusive excellence.
March 25, 2021
Elie Wiesel poignantly noted, “We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. The opposite of love is not hate; it’s indifference.” None of us can be indifferent to the tragic events that unfolded in Atlanta in the past week that claimed the lives of eight innocent people, including six women of Asian descent. We cannot be silent about the recent increase in anti-Asian sentiment and the ensuing repercussions punctuated by violence.
Our faculty, staff, and students stand firm in the belief that America is better than this and that only with education and compassion can we begin to understand and honor diversity, inclusion, and appreciation of people of all backgrounds, races, religions, and ethnicities. Diversity makes us stronger as a community and stronger as a nation, and we are at our best when we embrace each other, lift each other up, and allow each one of us to become the best version of ourselves. We stand in solidarity with our Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) siblings in our country and around the world.
Rockland Community College will continue to be a welcoming, warm, and inclusive place for all people, as well as the first step for many on the road to understanding the world around us. We stand behind the collective statement from SUNY leadership in condemning this act of hatred:
Dear RCC Family,
The Derek Chauvin trial has concluded, but the lessons of this experience are just beginning. I hope that peace and equality will continue to evolve from rhetoric into action.
Education has always been the cornerstone of change, citizenship, and social justice. We are not just mere observers of the world’s social issues as they exist on our campuses and within our communities. Colleges are responsible for fostering the desire to expand critical thinking, recognize the importance of citizenship, and empower each of us to contribute to the global good. We should all be active participants in fostering transformation.
Enduring, systemic societal change requires that as educators, we continue to dismantle systems that promote and support the status quo. We also understand that growth and change happen when we come together, share our experiences, have difficult conversations and challenge narratives in meaningful ways.
I want to invite you to join us on April 26th at 7 pm as part of our Steps Beyond Statements initiative to discuss these difficult issues, broaden perspectives and turn those conversations into compassionate, purposeful actions. Our Chief Diversity Officer, Melissa Roy, will send an invitation shortly.