The Allan Hancock Joint Community College District Board of Trustees unanimously approved a resolution Tuesday evening to support diversity, unity, and undocumented students. The vote by the board represents the culmination of a three-month process spearheaded by students and faculty.
“The resolution reaffirms the district’s values and ensures there is no question that the district remains committed to standing behind all of our students,” said Gregory A. Pensa, president of the Board of Trustees. “Our students deserve the opportunity to pursue an education and improve their lives at Allan Hancock College without being afraid.”
The resolution states the board of trustees “reaffirms its commitment to the values of inclusion, diversity, open discussion, and success for all students.” It also reiterates a few existing federal policies such as no confidential student records will be released without a judicial warrant, subpoena or court order, unless authorized by the student or required by the law. The resolution further states the district police department will not detain, question or arrest any individual solely on the basis of suspected immigration status. The resolution adds that the district will not cooperate with any effort to create a registry of individuals based on any protected characteristics such as religion, national origin, race or sexual orientation.
“Allan Hancock College truly values diversity, and I am grateful for the leadership of our faculty and students,” said Hancock Superintendent/President Kevin G. Walthers, Ph.D. “We can confidently tell our students and community that their ability to pursue an education at Allan Hancock College will not be impeded because of their race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religious beliefs or political views.”
Prior to going to the trustees, the resolution went through the college’s shared governance process to ensure campus-wide support. The Academic Senate of Allan Hancock College passed a resolution last December supporting diversity, unity and undocumented students at the college. The Academic Senate, which provides the voice of the faculty on campus, reaffirmed the college’s proud history of embracing all members of the community.
“Academic Senate wanted the resolution to be non-partisan,” said Marla Allegre, English professor and president of the Academic Senate. “We want to emphasize unity and support for all students through civil and respectful discussions.”
The Associated Student Body Government (ASBG), a group student leaders elected to represent students’ best interests, also spoke out in favor of the resolution. The ASBG Board unanimously passed and signed a declaration last December to support diversity, unity, undocumented students and discourse on campus.
“We feel it is important to live up to ASBG’s mission of supporting all students and bringing our student body together,” said Michael Huggins, ASBG president. “I am extremely proud to be involved in this process and to represent the voice of the students. Hopefully, this sends a clear message to our students, the community and future student leaders of how students can make a difference on this campus.”
With the Academic Senate and ASBG behind it, the resolution received resounding support last month from College Council after all parties returned from semester break. College Council, which integrates strategic planning and resource allocation, includes representatives from all college constituencies, including the Budget, Resources and Technology councils; Management Association; California School Employees Association; Part-time Faculty Association; and Faculty Association. Every constituency group present for the January meeting approved the resolution.
“Through the process of shared governance, the college has ensured overwhelming campus-wide support of diversity, unity and undocumented students. Hancock has a unified message — we remain committed to excellence in teaching and learning by promoting an environment of mutual respect. We support all of our students,” said Walthers.