As we begin our summer, the tragic events unfolding across our nation demand a response, so please allow me to affirm our commitment to our work in support of equity on the Cypress College campus. Recent events remind us, yet again, there is no escaping just how far we have to go to eradicate the awful stain of racism within our communities and institutions. 400 years after the first slaves were forcibly taken from their homes, 160 years after their descendants were “freed,” 60 years after the civil rights movement, we still live in a country where too many of our citizens cannot go about their daily lives without the fear that a trip to the store, a jog down the street, or a drive into a new neighborhood could result in violence or death. Each death, each act of bigoted violence, each moment someone is silenced or told they don’t belong, diminishes each of us. It is a pain that cannot be ignored.
As members of an institution of higher learning, we must continue our resolve to take racism seriously on the Cypress College campus and stand up to the institutional norms that cripple each of us, no matter who we are. The responsibility of living within a democracy is both a gift and a chore. As we watch any sense of unity in this country tested daily by our hyper-politicized views, I am especially concerned by any rhetoric in our own community that seeks to pit us against one another.
I am grateful for the leadership that exists here at Cypress College and NOCCCD, and our ability to respond to these concerns. As we work through these challenges, we also want our students to know they will find support here, and we will collectively embrace an equity-mindedness that reflects our shared humanity. We will not sit back while others are hurt or persecuted; we will ensure that all our students, but especially those who feel disenfranchised in our culture at large, will know they have a home here on our campus. This has always been important at Cypress College but right now nothing is more important. Cypress College must be that place that instills the capacity for empathy, resilience, and collaboration.
Please remember that Telemental Health Counseling is available by calling (714) 484-7361 and you can find more information by clicking on the following link: cypresscollege.edu/services/health-center/.
These are uncertain times but I am reminded that each generation has faced their own defining point; I hope this will be ours. I hope we will finally say “enough,” and stand together for change. Willing or not, change is upon us and we must choose a world where justice is offered to all. To quote the Greek poet Aeschylus, “In our sleep, pain, which cannot be forgotten, falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the grace of the gods.”
I vow to use the pain of this moment to work even harder to ensure that Cypress College will be that place that others come to learn and find wisdom. I want you to know that you each matter and that we will come through this together.
Wishing you peace, love and safety,
JoAnna Schilling, Ph.D.