PCC Responds to Trump with Workshops

By Emma Meshell|February 13, 2017News, Top Stories|

Originally published on Campus Reform.org, Jan 24 2017

Portland Community College has created a task force charged with “galvanizing” the school’s community for social justice with workshops on pronoun use, avoiding deportation, and more.

The task force  will be composed primarily of faculty, spanning from the Office of the President to adjunct professors, along with 3-4 student members, and is part of the Preferred Future initiative announced by PCC President Mark Mitsui in an email sent to all students and faculty on January 19, the day before Donald Trump was sworn in as President of the United States.

“As the inauguration approaches, it’s a natural time for folks to want to affirm a sense of belonging to our community, our country, and our democracy” President Mitsui wrote. “I want to let you know about a new web page summarizing some of these college-wide opportunities, tools, and resources. They are offered in the spirit of new beginnings, to encourage dialogue across difference, and to help ensure a welcoming environment for everyone at our college.”

Mitsui ends the letter by reminding students that PCC recently declared itself a “sanctuary campus” for illegal immigrant students, calling the decision “a symbolic gesture of solidarity with undocumented and DACA students concerned about what the future may bring.”

The webpage on “college-wide diversity and inclusion resources” that Mitsui cites in his letter features an excerpt from a statement released on Mitsui’s blog  the same day as his letter to students, in which he asserts that “as we approach the inauguration of a new president…students, faculty, and staff at colleges and universities across the country are expressing concern about this uncertain landscape, and considering our role at this important moment.”

The resource page goes on to clarify its purpose further, declaring that “we at PCC…understand that the current social-political climate in the United States has presented additional challenges and uncertainties for our current and prospective students” before providing a list of upcoming events and “learning opportunities” on campus.

One of the first events listed is an “Immigration Law: Know Your Rights Workshop,” which is intended to be “helpful for DACA and undocumented students, and faculty members working with students who are undocumented.”

There was a “introductory interactive workshop” called “Learning the ‘GayBC’s’” on Jan. 30, which covered “LGBTQ+ terminology, pronouns, unconscious bias, and how to work towards productive Queer and Trans allyship.”

A teach-in titled “Inaugurating Change” was offered on February 1, the description for which notes that “all faculty and staff are invited to attend…a day of workshops on issues of immigration, climate change, reproductive health, and workers’ rights.”

Additionally, the school has planned a “College and Campus President Listening Session” for “staff and faculty of color” to share their experiences with both Mitsui and Campus President Jessica Howard.

The Office of the President did not respond to an inquiry by Campus Reform on whether the task force was created specifically in reaction to the election and inauguration of Donald Trump.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @emma_meshell

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