This past week, while many celebrated Thanksgiving with family and friends, the Colorado Springs community was experiencing heartbreak. Five people were shot and 23 wounded in an attack on the LGBTQ+ community at Club Q. While we continue to witness wanton slaughter against individual groups, I write to affirm that we at CCBC stand strong with our many colleagues and students in our LGBTQ+ community. Professing that “Everyone of us Counts” is only believable when accompanied by the twin premise: “Taking Actions that Matter.” And “act” we will by insisting upon mutual respect and protecting the health and safety of every member of our college community.

This shocking saga of violent death over this past month has become an all too familiar narrative. More than 600 mass shootings have already occurred this year. Last week, a mass shooter in Buffalo pleaded guilty to a racist attack in a grocery store. His sentencing reawakened the trauma for the families of 10 African Americans who were slain while shopping for groceries. Two weeks earlier, three University of Virginia athletes were shot and several wounded as they returned from a college field trip to Washington, DC. In that same week, six co-workers were shot by their manager in a Virginia Walmart, and four University of Idaho students were stabbed to death in a house they shared.

We have a right to expect our homes, schools and workplaces to be sanctuaries where we can raise our families and live, work, and play in relative safety.  How tragic when the ordinary tasks of life—enjoying a night out, shopping for groceries, hanging out with friends—become death sentences carried out by self-appointed avenging angels filled with blind hatred. Now more than ever, it is important that the CCBC community stands in solidarity with those marked for ridicule, intolerance, ostracism, and sometimes death, by individuals who abhor rather than embrace our differences.

As a microcosm of our surrounding communities, we know that we are not immune from bigotry and hate. However, discrimination of any kind will not be tolerated at CCBC.  When such incidents occur, we respond with firmness to the perpetrator and with support for the victim or offended party.  Our design for CCBC is a place where everyone feels safe, respected and valued–a bastion of calmness, serenity, security and opportunity for all who enter our doors.  No matter the strife swirling around us, we must continue to work towards being a part of the solution, not the problem. We are better, stronger, and smarter than to allow differences that make us unique tear us apart.