Since our founding we have consciously steered clear of speaking on political and cultural issues. We have felt we could have the greatest impact not by talking but by doing - by demonstrating through our actions how to create opportunity for all, while simultaneously improving diversity and inclusion, through access to skills and community. Hence we have tended to keep our head down and stay focused on making a difference through our actions.
There are times though, when it’s not enough to stay quiet and go about our business. We believe that it’s important now, in a time of heightened uncertainty and stress, to reaffirm our commitment to our values, to our students, to our staff, to our graduates, and to our shared community.
No student at NSS has been untouched by some combination of recent events, starting with the tornado in early March, followed closely by the coronavirus and lockdown. Now events, triggered by the tragic and appalling killing of George Floyd, a Black man, by a white police officer, are piling on even greater levels of anxiety and stress. These stresses are affecting each of us in different ways and there’s no minimizing the reality of the stress each of us is feeling. But I think it’s critical that we acknowledge that the Black members of our community are feeling it even more deeply right now. Let’s give each other the space to express what we’re dealing with. And let’s hear and respond to each other with empathy.
One of NSS’s founding principles was to provide opportunity for the full, diverse spectrum of individuals in our community - opportunity to acquire the skills needed to launch a rewarding career, to gain access to a career field many had been shut out of or steered away from. To meet each of our students not as members of this group or that group but as unique and valuable individuals. To give each of our students a supportive and rigorous learning environment to help them discover and unlock their potential. And to act inclusively through a shared community into which all of our students could be welcomed.
If we are falling short in living up to our values and our ideals, I want to hear, the NSS instructors and staff want to hear, where and how we are falling short. We know we are all imperfect individuals. We know that NSS is an imperfect organization. We know that to strive is to sometimes fall short. But today I’d like to recommit NSS to continuing to strive to live our mission, to seek and act on feedback from our community on how we can better live up to our mission and our values, and to supporting each of our staff and students as they pursue their dreams and aspirations.