Over the course of a few days in June, the Supreme Court of the United States issued two significant rulings; to sustain the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and to provide employment protections for the LGBTQ+ community. These rulings come at a time when our nation and our community are focused on issues of diversity, inclusion, equity, and social justice.
A few days after those two court decisions were announced, many celebrated Juneteenth. On June 19, 1865, slaves were freed in Galveston, Texas marking the end of legalized slavery in America. This came two and a half years after slaves were declared free by virtue of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. Unfortunately, the Civil War continued throughout 1863, 1864, and into 1865 and many, many lives were tragically lost before those slaves in Galveston gained their freedom. The visibility and significance of this date have been heightened by the tragic death of George Floyd and the many others throughout the years since this important date in the continued struggle to achieve equity and social justice.
We reflect on these recent actions and this time with an eye towards “a more perfect Union” as presented in the United States Constitution; a Union that we the people are charged to form. The individuals affected by these Supreme Court decisions are students, employees, colleagues, family, friends, and neighbors. And, while I celebrate these recent Supreme Court decisions, I acknowledge that there is more work to be done.
In 2017 I wrote that at Waubonsee, “we are committed to welcoming the diverse abilities, goals and experiences of all individuals and that we are equally committed to maintaining access to education in a welcoming, healthy and safe environment. Waubonsee is, and will remain, a place for everyone to experience a full range of quality educational opportunities.” That remains true today. As part of our ongoing commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, Waubonsee recently hosted The Sustained Dialogue series for students and employees. Our goal was to provide an opportunity to talk about how we felt and how we were processing the death of George Floyd and the events following. We also discussed what we can do as individuals and as a college to build and support an anti-racist culture.
Student success and equity are at the center of our work at Waubonsee. Everything we do starts there as we continue to work to ensure that everyone in our college community has the opportunity to pursue their academic, personal and professional goals. Working together, I know we can create real and lasting change that impacts our communities and contributes to building “a more perfect Union.”