President Hetherington's Message on the Death of George Floyd
As I watched the news unfold over the weekend, I was, as I am sure you were, incredibly disheartened by acts of racism and violence that are tearing our nation apart. It’s hard to believe that, as a young girl growing up in Philadelphia, I saw scenes that are similar to what is happening today. While many things have improved, some things have not changed very much. It saddens me that during my lifetime, my generation has not been able to right these injustices and, as such, has failed one another and the young people of today. I recognize that many of you may be angry, upset, fearful, and worried. Please know I stand in solidarity with you and with our communities of color. Howard Community College supports you.
It seems like just days ago that I watched “Kill Move Paradise,” a moving production by the college’s professional theatre-in-residence, Rep Stage. The play powerfully addressed the growing list of Black men and women killed by law enforcement. It closed in early March, just as our region started recognizing the deadly realities of the coronavirus, which has disproportionately impacted communities of color. Like the play, the number of Black deaths continues to rise one by one. George Floyd. Ahmaud Arbery. Breonna Taylor. And so many other Black lives lost.
Hearing about these tragic deaths, seeing families traumatized, and watching the protests are painful and emotionally draining. Please know that you do not need to process this alone; help is available. For students, please reach out to counseling services to schedule a telecounseling appointment by calling 443-518-1340. Your call will be returned within 24 hours. Faculty and staff can receive support through the employee assistance program at 800-327-2251. At any time, if you are in crisis and need immediate help, contact Grassroots Crisis Center at 410-531-6677.
As we confront the racism in our communities, I find hope in the countless people of all ages who have come together in peaceful protests in our country and abroad. I have hope when law enforcement officers stand up to brutality and stand in solidarity with the protesters. I see hope in the families who are working side-by-side to help in their neighborhoods. We must continue to work together now and in the future if we want to change the world for ourselves and the children who will be our next leaders.
Howard Community College was founded 50 years ago as an institution of higher education for all residents of Howard County. We are guided by our core value of respect, and it is at the heart of our college’s plan for diversity, inclusion, and equity, which was developed by a cross-functional committee and presented to the board of trustees this past week. The plan calls for Howard Community College to value differences and to commit to equitable rights, access, and treatment.
I recognize that it is not enough to have a plan. We must do more. We must reaffirm the plan every day and continue to address injustice and racism. We must hold true to our values and treat each other with respect. Most importantly, you have my commitment that Howard Community College will hold true to its mission and provide every student, faculty, and staff member in our community with a safe and supportive learning environment. Our very future depends on it.
Kathleen Hetherington, Ed.D.
Howard Community College