Earlier this week, Dr. Jack Bermingham issued a message to Highline College faculty and staff reaffirming the college’s support for all students and communities at a time when they may feel uneasy, or even threatened, as a result of the 2016 presidential election.

In the message, he makes reference to an email sent nearly a year ago, which was followed by a similar statement issued jointly by all presidents in Washington’s community and technical college system.

To provide additional context for Bermingham’s current message, you can read the presidents’ December 2015 statement responding to religious and racial tension in the United States.

November 14, 2016

Colleagues,

I know that in the aftermath of the U.S. presidential election, words spoken and actions proposed during the campaign continue to have alarming effects for some of our communities and some individuals at our college.

About a year ago, I emailed the campus on behalf of the executive staff to address hurtful and threatening words said during the primaries. Today, I want to reiterate some of that message.

As I said last fall, Highline College remains one of democracy’s colleges in the best sense of the word. We believe that the richness of our cultural (including religious) and political differences strengthens our bonds of understanding and community. We do not fear discourse and contention, but we do demand civility and respect in engaging each other and the range of views that we hold. We strive for social justice that includes all and an accountability that is true to our College’s values and to U.S. constitutional principles.

We remain steadfast in our values at the college and in support of our students and our communities. Again, let us re-affirm Highline College’s diversity policy as a reflection of our deeply held identity and values.

In the days ahead, we will explore additional ways that we can utilize our institutional assets, our collegial culture, our expertise, and our commitment to social justice in order to support our community more effectively. In the state of Washington, we are not alone in our efforts or our commitment.

As the election’s policy implications become clearer, the college will organize sessions that allow us to discuss how those changes may affect our college and our communities. Perhaps there are some initiatives that we might choose to develop in order to make us more knowledgeable on these topics. We welcome your perspectives on next steps.

At a more personal level, people may want to come together as a community to share concerns, identify questions, and reinforce our values and vision as a college. To meet that need, Executive Staff members will be happy to work with faculty and staff groups to co-sponsor gatherings within their areas.

I also want to encourage anyone in distress to take advantage of counseling services at the college, EAP support through Human Resources and other services, as appropriate, provided by organizations in our community.

Thank you for your support of our students, our community and our college.

Jack

Founded in 1961 as King County’s first community college, Highline takes pride in preparing students to live and work in a multicultural world and global economy.

People representing more than 120 cultures attend classes at the college. With over 70 percent students of color, Highline ranks as the most diverse higher education institution in Washington state. The college’s globally focused environment for higher education provides a natural fit for its diverse community and an important reflection of its core values.