What can we do in response to the world that we see on television, online or in the newspaper? What can we do in response to riots, and beatings, and attempts at mob rule? What can we do when the body politic is not just divided, but, in the minds of many, at war with itself?
Community colleges can save our world. I truly believe that we can make that much difference. After the mob-led and violent insurrection attempt on January 6, 2021, I have a renewed commitment to the role of community colleges in fostering the mutual respect and civil dialogue that are the essence of a mature democratic republic.
After the events at the Capitol, and in light of the continued belief of millions of citizens that somehow a national election was “stolen”, the work that we do at ACC becomes even more important. We help our students learn about our history as a nation (the bad as well as the good). We help our students learn about politics and policymaking (the bad as well as the good). We help our students learn about activism, teamwork, respect for differences, the rule of law, peaceful conflict resolution, the vagaries of human nature, institutional racism, xenophobia, the power of the vote, and so much more.
Student success is our mission and goal. But student success is about more than just the courses students take. It’s about students’ personal growth, it’s about students being challenged by contradictory ideas that make them uncomfortable, it’s about students making connections with those who are different, it’s about students learning to think critically. It’s about saving the world.
As we start a new semester and a new year – as a new administration begins in Washington – as we continue to struggle with the social, economic, educational, political, psychological, and health impacts of a pandemic – as we recognize the work still to do to achieve “a more perfect union” that “provides for the general welfare” of all the people – let’s renew our commitment to the vision and values of ACC that affirm our commitment to being “a catalyst for social equity”, respect for each individual student, equal opportunity and support for all students to succeed, and the “promotion of equity as a means to understanding, an appreciation of cultural and individual differences, and a democratic society”.
Let’s go save the world.