Michigan Community College Association
Statement on Race and Equity
The recent deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and many others are acts of violence and racism that we all must condemn. Combined with the systemic racism and inequality that plagues our world, nation, state, communities, and institutions of higher education, it is time for Michigan’s community colleges to speak with one voice.
Michigan’s public community colleges are open access institutions of higher education and they seek to provide an affordable and accessible education to the communities they serve. Community colleges aspire to lift students out of poverty and create more equitable outcomes for historically marginalized students for whom higher education has been inaccessible and unwelcoming. For decades, our purpose has been to use the tool of education to address economic inequalities and social injustices.
We have not done enough. Racism, inequality, discrimination, and violence continue to exist in our communities. Without action on our part, colleges expect that these injustices will continue to spread in our communities, our institutions, and our students.
It is time for us to do more. Community colleges across Michigan are leading action in their communities. They are listening to students, faculty, staff, alumni, and their communities to identify inequities. They are investigating institutional policies and practices that cause inequitable outcomes. They are examining their campus culture. Most importantly, they are taking action.
The Michigan Community College Association has advocated on behalf of community colleges for policies and practices that support the needs of our students. Equity and social justice have been the implicit focus of our work. It is time to make equity and social justice an explicit focus of our work. As a collective of community colleges, we have committed to a number of specific action items. We will:
- Advocate for federal, state, and local policies that eliminate barriers to higher education, particularly cost;
- Disaggregate student outcomes data by race, ethnicity, gender, and income, to identify gaps and address inequitable outcomes;
- Increase the number and percentage of marginalized students who successfully complete college-level English and mathematics;
- Create opportunities for more community college students, especially marginalized students, to transfer to bachelor’s degree granting institutions with acceptable transfer credit for all of their courses;
- Increase the adoption of free textbooks through the expansion of open educational resources (OER);
- Build a community of community college presidents to focus on inequality and social injustices.
These actions are deliberately specific. In that specificity, we have undoubtedly missed countless other important priorities. But this is just a start. We can no longer settle for incremental change. Colleges must act with urgency to create a society where there are no longer distinctions among those who finish higher education due to where they start. We must instead provide supports that meet students where they start to guarantee they all have the same opportunity to finish. We are ready to do this work.
Glen Oaks Community College
July 9, 2020
JOINT STATEMENT of COMMITMENT to EQUITY, DIVERSITY,
and EXCELLENCE in STUDENT SUCCESS and LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT
The American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) and the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) represent more than 1,000 community, junior, and technical colleges throughout the United States. Both AACC and ACCT are committed to fostering the advancement of community colleges, in part, by applying principles of equity and diversity within their organizations and promoting these values within member colleges.
This responsibility can be achieved best when colleges are governed and led by individuals who are attuned to the fact that programs designed for a multicultural student population can help them overcome an environment where discrimination and poverty can serve as deterrents to social and educational mobility, and economic prosperity.
Community colleges are the most diverse and inclusive segment of higher education in the United States. These colleges serve a larger proportion of women, African Americans, Asian/Pacific Islanders, Hispanic/Latino, Native Americans, LGBTQ+ students, and students with disabilities than any other segment of higher education. Therefore, community colleges are positioned uniquely to foster educational environments that are safe, respectful, and responsive, and where students can attain their potential at the highest level possible.
AACC and ACCT denounce all acts of racism, hate, violence, and injustice. We stand with the individuals who have been marginalized, oppressed, and murdered due to their ethnicity, gender, sexual identity, and sexual behavior. As associations that represent community colleges serving 42% of undergraduates in the United States, we place a premium on equal access to the American Dream for everyone. We condemn rhetoric and actions by individuals and groups that threaten individuals based upon the color of their skin, their ethnic backgrounds, or their identification as a member of the LGBTQ+ community. We stand in solidarity with organizations that seek to end systemic racism, and we strongly encourage our community colleges to place a critical lens on their policies and procedures to ensure that all students engage with higher education on an equal playing field. Further, we support our community college leaders becoming allies to organizations seeking to improve educational and workforce opportunities, as well as other public services to ensure a better America.
As the leading organizations that promote student success, leadership development, and board governance, AACC and ACCT are dedicated to assisting the community college sector in successfully carrying out this responsibility. AACC and ACCT remain committed to programs that improve educational outcomes for all students, especially those representing various socioeconomic backgrounds including, but not limited to, race, gender, and age. AACC and ACCT reaffirm a commitment to promote and support programs and initiatives that develop diverse leaders at the board and CEO levels and in the administrative and faculty ranks. Historically, both organizations have made this a priority.
AACC and ACCT offer professional development programs for CEOs and staff along with providing board development and conducting presidential searches that identify and prepare more women and individuals of color for these positions. AACC and ACCT will monitor and update this statement together and, where needed, reframe it to reflect current efforts that promote greater diversity and equity and propose how these efforts can be implemented.
The values of diversity, equity, and inclusion are firmly embedded throughout the history and programs at AACC and ACCT. However, even with this historic focus and the current joint statement, both associations acknowledge that much work is required to provide programs for diverse students and equip current and future leaders with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in an increasingly diverse and demanding higher education environment. Together, AACC and ACCT commit to strengthening their collaboration to making this work a continued priority.
Revised June 12, 2020