“You Are Welcome Here” campaign assures safety

You Are Welcome Here
Photo Courtesy of Bellevue College

Due to the recent acts of hate at Bellevue College, the school has organized the “You Are Welcome Here” campaign to assure students that they are safe and welcome on campus.
Recent hate crimes include posters posted around campus containing prohibited language and hate-speech promoting unlawful discrimination and defacing certain groups. Several short videos and posters for the campaign were launched last week as a part of the spring Welcome Fair.

Nicole Beattie, the associate director of communications for the Department of Institutional Advancement described the campaign as “a visible campus affirmation of BC’s commitment to inclusion, pluralism and equity, and it’s a message of support for our diverse community.”

“The campaign seems to have begun with East Coast schools that wanted to respond to some of the presidential debate topics around immigration and also to the concerns that some students may have around the executive orders that were recently signed,” said Bradley Huggins, the assistant director of International Student Success. “Whereas the campaign was originally seeming to focus on a statement for international students, we feel strongly that it is about all students being welcome here and for this reason we’ve connected the message to the inclusion statement on the Office of Equity and Pluralism’s website. We wanted to join the cause and help students understand that they are welcome at BC no matter whether they are from countries that were on the travel ban list or other countries, have valid immigration or visa status or are undocumented.”

Interim Vice President for Diversity and Chief Diversity Officer Sayumi Irey was able to explain some of the more complicated parts of planning the campaign. “Many students don’t feel safe. But what does that mean? Some people don’t even feel safe when we offer a class like “sex and sexuality.” Some students don’t feel safe when we have people who are giving away bibles. Safety issues have a lot to do with your personal values and culture.”

“We decided that we need to keep going because anti-hate writings, for example, do not seem [to be] enough.” Irey went into detail about how the main goal of the campaign is to accommodate all students, unlike the Black Lives Matter or the anti-semitism campaigns for example. You Are Welcome Here is to represent all students, “even students who have a very different opinion from the majority.”

“We have to differentiate the hate crimes versus sentiment. Sentiment is where we get really confused because some people don’t feel safe for different things. So the campaign for “You Are Welcome Here” is it really doesn’t matter what values you have. We still want you to be here.”

“Many of us were originally very concerned about the way students may feel when the discussions around immigration reform seemed to be focused on fear and reaction instead of on understanding and inclusion,” said Huggins.

Huggins explained that some future possibilities include “another video that focuses on the College’s affirmation of inclusion, a town hall or open forum in the spring quarter to engage in a meaningful conversation, and we’re open to other ideas.”

Anyone looking to get involved with this campaign, can watch for an email from the president that should be sent out sometime during the week with further information. “The campaign was just launched last week, and we’ll be updating the bellevuecollege.edu/diversity/ website with future activities/events,” said Beattie.