Discussion on Racial Equity

Thursday, July 2, 2020

A Message from Wendy Givoglu, Interim President, East and Winter Park Campuses

As we enter into the first week of July, we continue to reflect upon the topic of racial equity and seek ways to take action to end racial injustice. I am inspired to know that so many groups of employees on East and Winter Park Campuses are having challenging conversations regarding racial inequality in the United States.

On Thursday, June 11, 2020, I hosted an East Region Town Hall meeting, which was an opportunity to gather as a community for discussion on racial equity — starting with deep listening and serial testimony. Leaders from Valencia’s Peace and Justice Institute (PJI) facilitated a healing circle. Professor of English Celine Kavalec guided us in a personal reflection, Administrative Manager for PJI Will Jefferson led us in a reading of the Principles of How We Treat Each Other and Professor of English Rudy Darden shared positive actions to address systemic racism on our campuses and in our community. Many attendees shared personal experiences, struggles and ideas for action.

In the town hall, I shared a photograph by Allan Maxwell, part-time faculty, art, who communicated through his online protest gallery his visual response to the email dialogue that was happening across the College a few weeks ago — his way of processing what is happening in the greater Orlando community through his literal and metaphorical lens.

We are exploring ways to continue the dialogue around racial equity at our future town halls. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me or Michelle Ames, executive assistant senior, at mames4@valenciacollege.edu with any suggestions for future conversation.

I’d like to invite you to our next town hall:

Date: Thursday, July 23, 2020
Time: 11 a.m.
Location: Zoom

Over the last five weeks, PJI, in partnership with Organizational Development and Human Resources, has hosted a series of healing circles to build resilience within our Valencia family by connecting through our stories. These safe spaces are created to remove blaming and shaming and to welcome honest, open sharing of our personal experiences, struggles and triumphs.

As Brené Brown, research professor at the University of Houston, writes, “Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.”

In these circles, people have been able to express their vulnerability and find support and strength from one another. Some attendees have returned to the circles week after week to share how they are really doing, which is an act of courage. The last summer circle took place on July 2, 2020, and these circles will resume in the fall.

To further assist with providing outlets for conversation and to process feelings brought on by the recent discussions on racial equity, in conjunction with Optum, our Employee Assistance Program (EAP) provider, Valencia also recently hosted two virtual EAP dialogue sessions led by one of Optum’s licensed counselors. Colleagues can also find support through directly contacting the College’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and through seeking other resources offered through Organizational Development and Human Resources.

For full-time employees, Valencia College’s Optum Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is available to you, your dependents and members of your household to help you cope with managing the stress of all kinds of life events. Call 866-248-4094 (24 hours a day, 365 days a year) and use the access code: Valencia. You may also log on to www.liveandworkwell.com and use the access code: Valencia. Optum EAP provides confidential, short-term counseling at no cost to the employee.

For part-time employees, Optum is offering a free emotional support help line. This help line will provide those affected access to specially trained mental health specialists. Optum’s public toll-free help line number, 866-342-6892, will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week for as long as necessary. This service is free of charge and open to anyone. Specially trained Optum mental health specialists help people manage their stress and anxiety so they can continue to address their everyday needs. Callers may also receive referrals to community resources to help them with specific concerns, including financial and legal matters.

In closing, it is the time for action. I want you to know that I have been engaged in listening, asking questions, intentional reading and bold propositions. Be assured I am being both proactive and sensitive during this time of urgency regarding how we, as a college, community and country are going to lead conversations about racial equity and take appropriate action.

The following is a list of some curated resources that I have recently found insightful — thanks to many recommendations from colleagues (please keep these recommendations coming):

1 Comment

  • Krystal Barrett said:

    Incredible, beautiful, and powerful photos, Allan. Thank you for sharing.

    AMMon, 06 Jul 2020 10:12:12 +0000Mon, 06 Jul 2020 10:12:12 +0000am20,10:12 am

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Related Posts

    Virtual Engagements for Vice President, Equity Strategy...

    Tuesday, May 3, 2022 As shared earlier this month, finalist interviews and open forums were scheduled for this week on Thursday, May 5 and Friday, May 6, 2022, for the vice president for equity strategy and partnerships. Although we extended an invitation to four finalists, who initially all accepted, three of the four candidates have […]

    Save the Date: Meet the Finalists for Vice President,...

    Tuesday, April 19, 2022 Mark your calendar and plan to attend virtual engagements to meet our finalists for the vice president for equity partnerships and strategy position. On Thursday, May 5 and Friday, May 6, 2022, we invite you to join us to learn more about the candidates and their work experience. Please save the […]