We Are Committed to Ending Racism 

NVC President Dr. Ric Baser

This has been a tremendous year. It has been tremendous because we set out to celebrate our 25th anniversary with all the fanfare and magic that is befitting of Vista.

But instead of our celebratory year, we were brought to a new level of consciousness about two kinds of pandemics: the COVID-19 pandemic (new/emerging) and the pandemic of racism (not new and longstanding).

In the last five months, we’ve learned that we have so much more to learn about our students, about our college and each other.

It’s revealing when a scholar like Dr. Shaun Harper, who spoke at the District-wide Convocation on Monday, tells us that while doing research on the Alamo Colleges District, he could not find any words such as race, racism or Black in any of our documents and policies regarding Equity and Diversity, other than in indexes of our information.

It took tremendous courage for our colleagues like Garvin Dansby and Daniel Johnson to share their experience of racism on our campus or while on duty as Vista College employees. Many of our employees of color face implicit and explicit racism in their lives every day.

Racism is systemic. It’s explicit and implicit and it’s everywhere including NVC.

As your president, I am committed to ending racism. I am committed to ending racism on the NVC campus, both in our physical and virtual environment. That said, we must strive to become an anti-racist College.

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I speak for myself and the NVC Cabinet that we are committed to making Black Lives Matter. This is a priority at NVC. Our goal is to ensure Black Lives Matter is not a one-time initiative. We need to ensure that Black Lives Matter and diversity is interwoven into everything we do at NVC.

That means that diversity and Black Lives Matter in:

  • NVC hiring practices
  • NVC’s policing
  • NVC’s curriculum
  • NVC’s support services
  • NVC everything

We have to get beyond words. Please help me let our Black employees know that we will no longer be colorblind.  We are committed to creating a safe place for conversations about Black Lives and the experience of students, faculty and staff of color.

The work that we’ve done thus far is just the beginning and just the start.

We know some of us may be uncomfortable or confused or feeling left out. These are normal phases of growth. We don’t expect our students to learn immediately and we as an organization will need time to learn and grow. Yes, everyone is at a different stage of the journey. What we cannot delay is our commitment to the process.

I want to thank the Cabinet Leaders Council for starting the conversation. I want to thank Debi Gaitan and Janie Scott for committing NVC to the Access, Advocacy, Inclusion, Diversity and Equity work.  I want to thank Garvin Dansby, Daniel Johnson, Melissa Monroe-Young and others for making us aware that we need to make a stronger commitment and back our commitment with actions. I want to thank the Staff Senate and Faculty Senate for taking on this grass roots effort to the next level. We are at the beginning of our journey.

I’m asking for your help. Please hold me and the Cabinet and all leadership accountable.  I do not want to put the burden of responsibility on you.  What I am asking is for you to help me. Most leaders see themselves as inclusive and non-racist. Becoming an Anti-Racist College will require the commitment of the entire College family.

Most leaders, myself included, are sometimes blinded or overtaken by our roles as cheerleaders and focused on all of the positive news.

We don’t know what we don’t know.  If you see racism explicit or implicit, feel free to abandon the traditional reporting structure. Please come directly to me or to the Cabinet. Or reach out to Stacey Blum or anyone in Human Resources.

All of us need to do that and be mindful that we will never be the number one community college in this city, the state or the nation if even a small fraction of our students, faculty or staff (no matter how small) feels that their existence does not matter. Each and every human being to include students, faculty and staff of Color, need to feel like this is their college, that they are respected and that they belong.

Together we want to create, develop and nurture a culture of inclusivity for all NVC stakeholders.

Vice President for Student Success
Debi Gaitan

We cannot talk about implicit bias without talking about structural racism. As a leader for antiracism I must examine, interrogate and deal with my own biases and strive to eradicate the structures and systems that allow inequity to exist.

I commit to my own growth and development to gain racial literacy and to be a part of a much larger conversation about how current inequities in our institution came to be, how they are held in place, and what my role as a leader is in dismantling and deconstructing longstanding racist and inequitable practices.

I will confront implicit and explicit racism with courage and accountability and expect to be confronted by others when I fail to demonstrate antiracist behavior. I want to align my values with my actions and decenter my own feelings and tune in to the needs of our Black students, staff, employees and community. Lastly, I am going to mess up…and that will not stop me.

Vice President for College Services
Erin Sherman

2020 has been quite a year, and that can carry with it many connotations. The year has provided so many opportunities to learn about our world, country, community, our college, our students, each other, family and friends, ourselves and the systemic racism both implicit and explicit in our world, including NVC.

For me, my learning has led to the recognition that it is time to actively choose to commit to antiracism, to challenge systems implicitly and explicitly supporting inequities, and to actively work toward change and ensuring that Black Lives Matter within and outside of our NVC family. For me, that means choosing to commit to change rather than passively support change. Actively choosing means the commitment to learning, self-awareness and self-reflection, personal growth and responsibility, and engaging in difficult and uncomfortable conversations. The path is not clearly defined or simple, and it will be messy. I actively choose grace in the messy path to understanding and while committing to the difficult work of change and so much more I do not even know about.

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I cannot tell you I have the answers, but I can tell you I am here with you, and I am committed. I am committed to ensuring Black Lives Matter in actionable and sustainable ways. This commitment is not one that results in a plan with a beginning, middle and end that is put on a shelf. This is real, deep down, lasting change.

Thank you to my NVC family for the commitment to Black Lives Matter and to making NVC even better. Thank you, especially, to Garvin for your courage and your willingness to challenge and encourage me as I stumble. Thank you for your vulnerability and for being you. Thank you to so many of you for sharing your experiences and for being committed to this change and the sustainability of this change. We cannot continue to let members of our family hurt. We cannot take a passive role in the change that needs to occur for NVC to remain committed to being an antiracist college. We owe this sustainable change to our students and to each other.

Vice President for Academic Services
Dr. Daniel Powell

I don’t think it will be new information for you to say that this pandemic has disproportionately and negatively impacted minoritized racial groups. Now more than ever, it is important to educate ourselves.

As we celebrate the last 25 years of Northwest Vista College on our anniversary year, we will look back on all our many accomplishments and awards. It is also important to look at some of the ways we mis-stepped and what we got wrong, particularly regarding racism, and take responsibility for this. It is important to learn from our mistakes so we can move forward as a non-racist institution that fosters inclusion.

It is not enough to say it, but we need to demonstrate this with our actions, from the decolonization of curriculum to changes in hiring practices. I will commit to my own growth and development in these areas and ask that you please hold me accountable when I make a mistake. Lets learn from each other! We need to work together to make the next 25 years even better than the last 25 years!”

 

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