Students in California's Riverside Community College District received an email Tuesday from Chancellor Michael Burke condemning a handful of President Donald Trump's policies, including his so-called Muslim travel ban and his ban on transgenders in the military, according to a copy of the email obtained by TheBlaze.
Burke's email reassured students that they are entering a "welcoming, inclusive and safe environment" as the school year begins. The declaration comes after weeks of political unrest has taken place across the country, especially surrounding the removal of Confederate statues and protests by white supremacy groups.
The email was discovered by TheBlaze in a private Facebook group where a student's husband shared a copy of the email.
As we begin a new academic year at Moreno Valley College, Norco College, and Riverside City College, I want to assure you that the colleges of the RCCD remain steadfast in their resolve to provide welcoming, inclusive, and safe environments for all our students and employees.
Over the course of the past few weeks, we have witnessed deeply disturbing developments that include a travel ban targeting six Muslim-majority nations, a singling out of transgender members of the Armed Services, and, most recently, the horrific resurgence of racist, neo-Nazi, and white supremacist rhetoric and actions in Charlottesville, Virginia.
I find these developments to be antithetical to our core national values, and they are certainly antithetical to the core values and beliefs of the RCCD. I find the racist, fascist, and hateful beliefs that were manifested in the explosion of violence in Charlottesville to be deeply troubling to those of us who embrace and champion diversity, equity, and inclusion on our college campuses.
I want to assure everyone enrolled at and working in the colleges of the RCCD that our core values are intact and have not changed. They are immutable. The RCCD colleges embrace diversity, champion equity, model inclusion, and support all our students and all our employees. Additionally, we wholeheartedly condemn anti-Muslim, anti-Semitic, anti-LGBTQ, and anti-immigrant rhetoric and actions, and we stand in stark opposition to the fascist, neo-Nazi, and white supremacist rhetoric and violence that we witnessed in Charlottesville.
We will continue to safeguard the rights of our students and employees, and we will do all in our power to ensure our colleges remain vibrant, inclusive places of learning and discourse.
Michael L. Burke, Ph.D.
"I couldn't agree more [with Burke]. I feel recent events are inexcusable and there is no need for all the hate crimes currently happening," former Marine Lance Cpl. and Moreno Valley College student Brianna Rivera told TheBlaze. "I don't think a person's orientation should matter. If they are fit to serve in the military then they should be allowed to."
According to Riverside campus student Nicole Shropshire, everything is based on one's personal opinion, including the chancellor's email.
"Sure, our school chancellor seems to have an opinion but why do we students care when we either agree with some of what he said or nothing at all?" Shropshire said during an interview with TheBlaze. "Does our chancellor really need to send it in an email to students when it's also based on everyone's own opinion?"
Colleges as a 'safe space'
For years, college educators and administrators have worked to ensure colleges are "safe spaces." Students, faculty members, staff, and even outside guest speakers have had to walk on egg shells to make sure students aren't "triggered" by differing opinions. The days of having civil political discourse on college campuses are long gone. And this email is evidence of just that.
Chancellor Burke overstepped his bounds as an "educator" by sending a mass email with his political beliefs to students. There was absolutely no need for him to voice his opinions on Trump's transgender military ban, Muslim travel ban or his views that could be categorized as "anti-immigrant."
Burke did not immediately respond to TheBlaze's request for comment, however, Vice Chancellor Peggy Cartwright confirmed the email was sent to students Tuesday evening.