A Note to the BHCC Family on Charlottesville

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Dear Members of the Bunker Hill Community College Family,

In the aftermath of the fatal violence in Charlottesville, VA, and in anticipation of the demonstrations in Boston this weekend, I am reaching out to you in peace and in the spirit of community. I observe with great sadness that this is the third letter of this nature I have penned in the last year, in an attempt to remind one another of our humanity and to bind us once again to the College’s mission of learning, and its values of kindness, inclusiveness, equity and social justice.

As an institution of public higher education, we, more than any other social institution, bear the honor and the burden to ensure the exercising of the First Amendment. We are tested each time we are asked to tolerate the intolerable in order to safeguard our right to speak and our right to dissent.

While we are uncompromising about the First Amendment, we must uphold equally our role as an institution of learning. Free Speech, unframed by values and free of critical judgment, is not teaching or learning. When we encounter challenging, or, more plainly, repugnant ideas on our campus - and we are very likely to as an open public institution - it is our responsibility to return to first principle, and bring our Mission and Values to bear in evaluating them.

Do these ideas align with the Values we share? Our Values Statement demands this of us:

  • Access and Success
  • Excellence and Innovation
  • Economic and Social Justice
  • Inclusiveness and Equity
  • Civic Engagement and Service
  • Kindness and Respect
  • Accountability and Transparency

Our role as teachers and students is not only to value the concept of Free Speech, but to examine the content of the speech, render critical judgment, and, thereby, embrace or reject it.

Expressions of anti-Semitism, racism, White Supremacy, and Nazism might hide under the guise of Free Speech, as they did in Virginia, and could emerge anytime, anywhere in these United States. And as they do, we as a community of scholars must find our moral compass, gather the Values we pledged to one another, and render judgment. Hate does not have a place at Bunker Hill Community College.

I wish you peace until we all come together again for the fall semester.

Pam

Pam Y. Eddinger, Ph.D.
President
Bunker Hill Community College