Dear San Jacinto College Community,
Two weeks ago, I reached out to the employees of San Jacinto College, with a sad heart and with a need to say something even though I knew I did not have the perfect choice of words and even though, like many others, I was struggling to make sense of what I was seeing. I appreciate the many emails and phone calls from members of our San Jac Family who shared their stories with me and their ideas on how we can improve the work we do at the College. San Jacinto College is committed to equity and to advancing the social and economic mobility of all members of our community. I asked our San Jacinto College employees, what more can we do?
Over the past two weeks, we have continued to see people take to the streets to protest racism and unjust systems in numbers that we have not seen since the 1960’s. We have seen diverse groups of people calling for change, crying out to stop racism and other forms of social injustice. We have laid to rest Houstonian George Floyd and shared in his family’s grief. We have observed the birthday of Breonna Taylor and listened as her mother described her as a first responder and someone who wanted only to save lives. We have listened as others have shared their fears of seeing loved ones die like Ahmaud Arbery, who was out for a jog alone.
We must not let this moment pass without making a deep commitment to actions that result in positive and sustainable changes. Racism is an evil that has no place in a civilized world, no place among an educated citizenry, and no place in our institutions of higher education. We have a responsibility to strive for a society that values differences, tolerance, and equity. These must be the foundation for the collective success of our communities -- all members of our community.
San Jacinto College is a place where robust and honest conversations can take place. Community colleges bring diverse populations together to learn, to grow, and to build better lives. At San Jacinto College, we are committed to unity, community, and inclusion. Our College value of inclusivity is explained by the statement, “We grow through understanding. We respect and learn from the diversity of our cultures, experiences, and perspectives.” This value is a call to action.
Safe spaces enable people to grow together, to build a better future for our students, our employees, and our community. We have the privilege to inspire students to explore opportunities, define their educational and career paths, and achieve their goals and dreams. We remain committed to social justice and the values of excellence, equity, and inclusion. The following list of actions is designed to ensure that San Jacinto College is a safe space for all members of our community, now and in the years to come.
- To a culture of inclusive classrooms and learning;
- To a review of our curriculum for training the next generation of the workforce – in first responders and healthcare, in business and industry, and in education, science, and technology;
- To hosting and supporting courageous conversations that advance understanding and respect among members of our San Jacinto College community and in our local communities;
- To achieving equity in student outcomes between students of color and white students and students with socioeconomic differences; and
- To strategies that reduce unconscious bias and increase diversity in the recruitment, hiring, and retention of College employees.
Brenda Hellyer, Ed.D.
Chancellor, San Jacinto College