As faculty, practitioners and students adjust to a new academic year, the PCC wanted to take time to lend advice and words of wisdom to those involved in higher education. While the summer brought about new challenges with the ending of affirmative action and the striking down of student debt forgiveness by the Supreme Court, it presents an opportunity for all of us to recommit ourselves to the work of making a college degree possible for all. PCC staff shared their thoughts and advice as back to campus season swings into full gear.

For practitioners:

“Thank you for your continued strength and service to ensure students are heard, validated, and set up for success. Remember to take deep breaths and reach out for care and support as you carry on in the face of adversity. The highest functioning workplace environments are those where staff feel psychologically safe, seen and heard. Do not suffer in silence and work collaboratively with your peers to reach solutions and share the responsibility of advancing equity and inclusion.”

Joe Saucedo, Senior Manager of College and University Partnerships

Thank you for your ongoing support and commitment to serve diverse students on your college campuses. Your work doesn’t go unnoticed and needs to be acknowledged. The start of a new academic year brings a myriad of emotions, work and new and continuing students working on their educational aspirations. The recent SCOTUS reversal on Affirmative Action has spiked critical conversations and more deliberate approaches to continue championing DEI efforts in higher education and strategically supporting diverse students’ access, retention, persistence, and college degree completion outcomes.

As we say to our students, knowledge is power. I encourage you and your department leaders to critically review this decision that centers around admission processes and practices in postsecondary educational institutions. The continued fight against systemic inequities particularly in higher education is our collective moral responsibility and this work cannot rest in one specific office or institution. Your holistic wellbeing is vital, so take time to rest, reflect and process the implications of this decision. Be courageous and continue prioritizing equity through your institutional policies and practices to uphold supportive environments where everyone can succeed. 

Mercedes Terrazas, Equity Program Manager

For students:

“Ask as many questions as you can! Even if you’ve been in school for a few years, navigating higher ed is incredibly challenging, there are so many rules and steps no one tells you about. But you don’t have to do it by yourself. Take advantage of as many campus resources and opportunities as you can, there might also be public benefits you are eligible for as a college student. It’s not always easy to find those resources, but your advisors and other student affairs staff, student organizations or trusted friends can be great people to help you get connected.”

Caitlin Power, Policy Analyst

We’ve been here as a country before – the political attacks on the civil rights of Americans, access to social services and psychological harm infringing on people’s human dignity. The resilience and power of the collective action against these indignities is also part of the American story. If you feel anxious or lost in these tenuous times, please don’t isolate yourself. I encourage you to seek support and resources from your faculty, student support services and peers. 

Joe Saucedo, Senior Manager of College and University Partnerships

Thank you for your perseverance and resilience especially in challenging times such as these. The recent SCOTUS reversal on Affirmative Action is centered on admission processes, even though this is a setback, the work doesn’t end here. The fight towards equity and justice continues, as it is our shared moral responsibility to eliminate systemic injustices that have permeated our nation for centuries. Therefore, as a society we must continue fighting against systemic inequities and implementing policies and practices that can better support diverse students to have access and succeed in postsecondary educational institutions.

I encourage you to be bold, courageous and continue on your educational path towards obtaining your college degree that will provide many personal and career opportunities. It is imperative that you take care of yourself, connect with your advisors and loved ones and support services in your respective institutions and communities. They are a myriad of resources, services, and opportunities that can help you thrive, succeed and ultimately obtain your educational and career aspirations. 

Mercedes Terrazas, Equity Program Manager