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Aug 31
President’s Corner — Welcome Back Fall 2017

orange coast college president dr Dennis HarkinsDear Colleagues,

Welcome back for the Fall 2017 semester. As we prepare to embark on another academic year, I want to emphasize the importance of coming together to continue to make Orange Coast College the open institution it has always been, and reiterate my commitment to ensuring that OCC remains a place that values diversity, inclusion and equitable access for all.

Over the past few weeks, we have witnessed a number of troubling events taking place on the national stage, including a ban on transgender service members in our military and a disturbing display of Neo-Nazi and white supremacist activity in Charlottesville, Virginia.

One of the foundations of higher education is a commitment to open dialogue and the exchange of differing points of views. However, when a group's ideology espouses hatred, oppresses or otherwise threatens another's beliefs and/or existence, and advocates violence, the only acceptable response must be a wholehearted condemnation of such intolerance.

As I stated in my remarks during last week's Flex Day program, I believe it's important for OCC to lead by example. In doing so, we need look no further than our own mission statement, which emphasizes that Orange Coast College serves the educational needs of a diverse local and global community.

The responsibility that falls on us as educators to shape generations of students cannot be underestimated, and during times when the core values of our College and our nation are being tested, it's more important than ever to make clear what we stand for.

In that vein, I applaud and support California Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Oakley's state directive and Coast Community College District Chancellor John Weispfenning's announcement last week that our District will not fund travel to states that have enacted laws discriminating against the LGBT community. Like chancellors Oakley and Weispfenning, I stand with OCC's LGBT students, faculty and staff.

And while we as a College or District cannot legally prohibit hate groups from stepping foot on campus, I can assure you that they are not welcome here, and that our administration will do everything in its power to ensure that OCC remains a safe place for all students and employees, from all walks of life.

I want to wish all of you a successful semester, and thank you for all that you do to support our students' educational goals.