Message from the President: Our collective work for equity and justice
Wednesday, April 21, 2021
Written by: Dr. Georgia L. Lorenz
Dear Seminole State College Community,
Like many of you, I have been reading a lot of reactions to the guilty verdict in the George Floyd murder case, State of Minnesota v. Derek Chauvin. Martin Luther King Jr. famously stated, “Let us realize the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” One of the reactions I saw last night stated that perhaps that arc bent a little further toward justice yesterday upon the reading of the verdict. But there is universal acknowledgement that there is still much work for us to do—as individuals, organizations, and a nation. In fact, we witnessed additional incidents as the Chauvin trial progressed—Daunte Wright, Adam Toledo, incidents of hate and murder perpetrated on people of Asian descent, and more.
Seminole State is committed to our collective work for equity and justice. It is our goal to create a work and learning environment that is anti-racist, free from bias and oppression, in which all can thrive and excel. Our stated core values as well as “Flight Plan 2025,” our strategic plan, serve as a foundation for our commitments as a college community. In Summer 2020 we redoubled our efforts to address racism and social justice and formulated both short- and long-term action plans to build upon previous work. These plans were initially developed and implemented by the Joint Action Committee on Race and Social Justice comprising representatives from across the college. Very soon the Joint Action Committee will “pass the torch” to the new Equity Standing Committee, the formation of which it recommended. Some of the college actions to become an anti-racist institution include:
- Professional development on unconscious bias identification and reduction, required for all employees.
- Ongoing workshops, seminars, teach-ins, and other learning opportunities offered to employees and students. The series “A Time to Heal” is one example of the forums in which we welcomed individuals to share their experiences and deep feelings, with counselors on hand to provide support.
- The development and launch of a Seminole State edition of “Black Minds Matter.” This follows after two cohorts of SSC community members engaged in the public course created at San Diego State University by Dr. J. Luke Wood. The public course seeks to raise the national consciousness about issues facing Black boys and men in education.
- Events sponsored by Student Life and the Student Government Association at each of our campuses.
- The development and/or refinement of curricula that examines and addresses the issues underpinning incidents of violence across our nation. The nursing faculty integrate care for our multicultural community across their courses. Public Safety is addressing de-escalating strategies for law enforcement. Faculty in the School of Arts and Sciences have hosted several departmental events and are integrating culturally relevant assignments and discussions throughout their curricula.
You can review our work to date as well as current learning opportunities on the Equity webpage.
In addition to the incidents of racism and hate, we have witnessed multiple mass shootings over the past several weeks. And all of this is on top of the fear, disruption, isolation, and distress resulting from the global pandemic that continues after more than a year. Many if not all of us are experiencing feelings of stress, anger, despair, hopelessness, and more. I want you to know that you are not alone. I can share that I am impacted every time I learn about a mass shooting, having experienced that firsthand at my former college. I ask everyone to think about how we can exercise care and compassion for our colleagues and our students during these very challenging times.
We all need support and care. Seeking help and resources is important for self-care and a sign of inner strength and resilience. For our employees, we offer our Employee Assistance Program (EAP). This is a free service available 24/7/365 to them and all members of their household. It is confidential. Through this service, employees will be provided with experienced, professional counselors who can support them through stress at home, relationship issues, parenting questions, grief, depression, anxiety, and more.
For our students, we also have resources for personal support including our own free counseling services as well as an after-hours crisis hotline: 407.416.9976. We have also established a RaiderCare team. The goals of RaiderCare are the prevention, identification, assessment, intervention, and management of concerning situations to promote the safety and well-being of our campus community.
Echoing the sentiments of many others, former President and Mrs. Obama stated yesterday that we need to continue to work together to make “… the America we know more like the America we believe in.” Seminole State and each of us have a role to play in achieving that goal. The College is committed to continuing our work in our classrooms, student activities, professional development, and the community to do just that.
Georgia L. Lorenz
President, Seminole State College of Florida
Dr. Georgia L. Lorenz is the president of Seminole State College of Florida, a position she has occupied since August 2018. Passionate about open access and providing opportunities for all to a high quality, affordable college education, Dr. Lorenz previously served as Vice President of Academic Affairs at Santa Monica College (SMC) in California. She holds a Ph.D. in Educational Policy, Planning and Administration from USC and a Master of Science in Education and Social Policy from Northwestern University.