President Donald Trump’s executive order on combating race and sex stereotyping is disappointing, but not not unexpected. Over the last four years we have seen a consistent erosion of human rights and a growth in intolerance.
As an institution of higher education, we are not prohibited from discussing the very issues that are described as “divisive concepts” of race and sex stereotyping. On its face, we do not find discussion of the history of racism and sexism to be divisive. In fact, at Southwestern College, we have been having the very difficult discussions over the structural racism that has prevented Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) from realizing the very ideals the President mentions in his executive order:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by the Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Southwestern College serves a diverse community that represents the diversity of our state and country. We are positioned to be a model of equity-focused practices. We do not agree that having these discussions is unpatriotic or that they make others feel inferior–uncomfortable, yes–but not inferior. Eliminating these critical conversations on race is an erasure of history at a time when we need this understanding more than ever to transform our society into a just one. We cannot think of anything more American than to fight for justice, freedom and equality. We cannot fix the scourge of racism if we negate its existence.
It is our responsibility to prepare our students to work and live in a diverse society. We cannot accomplish this goal if we cannot discuss race and work towards ending structural racism.
Southwestern College students and employees have worked too hard to build a culture of belonging and inclusivity to allow narrow interpretations of our country’s founding principles to negate those efforts for us and our country.
On behalf of Southwestern College we wholeheartedly oppose the President’s executive order and restate our commitment to be active co-conspirators in dismantling institutionalized racism and systems of oppression at our college and in our community.
Nora E. Vargas, Governing Board President
Dr. Kindred Murillo, Superintendent/President