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Embracing diversity and understanding

January 31, 2017 | Filed in Archive

We encourage and celebrate our partnerships with community leaders, especially our relationship with our campus neighbor, Fulton-Montgomery Community College. In a letter to his students, FMCC President Dr. Dustin Swanger articulated a call for the kind of safe and engaging learning environment all our students deserve. We echo his sentiments at HFM BOCES, and with Dr. Swanger’s permission, share his letter here.

Dear Students,

Today the United States is experiencing a climate of anger and negativity toward many things including the government, police, wealthy, poor, people of color, people of various religions, gay and lesbian people, transgender people and many others who make up our American society. While it would be wrong to blame the recent presidential election process for creating this atmosphere, there is evidence to suggest that it magnified these feelings among certain Americans and has polarized our country, communities and even families. The recent executive order detaining people at airports from certain countries has added to the division of values and may have made some international students feel uneasy. These actions, and the recent campaign, have provided some with a sense of legitimacy to discriminate against those who are not the same color, religion, sexuality or for any other reason.

We at Fulton-Montgomery Community College do not subscribe to this culture of anger and negativity. We believe that the diversity of people, religions and ideas that is the composite of United States is what makes us great. We welcome discussions with people from various backgrounds and work to include their thoughts and ideas into the greater understanding of our nation and world. While we support the free expression of ideas, we hold sacred that those expressions be founded in fact and research not hyperbole and rhetoric. As often stated by former Senator Patrick Moynihan, “Everyone is entitled to their own opinion; they are not entitled to their own facts.”

We wish to assure all of our students, citizens and visitors that they are welcome at FM. We will work to insure that all are safe to express their ideas, practice their faith, form relationships with whomever is agreeable and contribute positively to our campus community. On our campus, everyone matters and we will not succumb to the negativity that is rampant across our nation and prevalent in the media.

At FM, we value Civility, Integrity, Diversity, Accessibility and Community Engagement among others. We believe that these values create an atmosphere on our campus that allows all who come to feel valued and equal. It is our hope that when students and others leave our campus they live their lives respecting all cultures. Regardless of whether you are Black, Latino, White, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Atheist, Straight, Gay, Transgender or whoever you are – you are welcome at FM.

Dustin Swanger, Ed.D.