By John J. “Ski” Sygielski
HARRISBURG, Pa. – A hate group demonstrated on the Harrisburg Campus of HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College, on April 17, 2018.
We identified this group as a hate group, because they meet the definition set by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an organization “that vilifies others because of their race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity.”
The safety of all students, employees and visitors on our campuses is always our top priority.
We are proud of the students and employees who demonstrated HACC’s core values of integrity, collegiality, excellence and trust during this unfortunate situation.
HACC is a public institution that recognizes the rights of individuals and groups to exercise freedom of speech. While the vile, vulgar, hateful and bigoted rhetoric did not meet the standards of the College, we did uphold their freedom of speech. In accordance with our College policies and past practices, we have designated a visible space on each campus, where groups are permitted to express their views freely, so long as their protected free speech does not veer into the territory of “fighting” words or words which are designed to elicit a violent reaction. We closely monitored the group’s interaction with students, employees and visitors to ensure that their rhetoric did not cross the line into harassment and violence.
In this instance, no acts of violence were committed. In the event that a demonstration becomes violent, HACC’s Public Safety and Security officers will take immediate and appropriate action.
I know that the vast majority of the College community agrees that our diversity is a strength and contributes to providing a high-quality education. The College is committed to creating a more inclusive environment where people from all walks of life feel that they belong. No demonstrations or acts of protest by any group will change that.
Thank you for supporting HACC.
HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College, is the first and largest of Pennsylvania’s 14 community colleges. HACC offers over 100 career and transfer associate degree, certificate and diploma programs to approximately 19,000 students. Also, the College serves students at its Gettysburg, Harrisburg, Lancaster, Lebanon and York campuses; through virtual learning; and via workforce development and continuing education training. For more information on how HACC is uniquely YOURS, visit hacc.edu. Also, follow us on Twitter (@HACC_info), like us on Facebook (Facebook.com/HACC64) and use #HACCNews.