President Awan Statement On FOX News Report Fallout

Posted on: 05/06/2021

In a message to campus on Thursday, May 5, Los Angeles Southwest College President Dr. Seher Awan addressed the hateful fallout directed toward the college following a FOX News report on a viral traffic stop between a former employee and a sheriff's deputy.

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LASC Family,

It’s been an extremely frustrating and concerning few days as we continue to navigate the FOX News storm that was unleashed on our campus this week. I first want to recognize your resilience and to thank you for your solidarity in combating false narratives and absolutely hateful messages that we have received. I want to take a moment to share my thoughts with you after now receiving close to 3,000 emails in the past few days from white supremacists and other ignorant individuals around the country along with thousands of hateful messages through social media. To date, we have tried to share the correct narrative on multiple occasions, but individuals are not willing to listen to the truth, instead they are invested in pushing racist narratives.

If you are not aware, in April, an individual who has been identified as a former professor at our college was pulled over in San Dimas and engaged in what is being reported as a “racist tirade” against a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy. The interaction was captured on the deputy’s personal body camera and eventually shared with media. On May 3, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva appeared on the “Tucker Carlson Tonight” show on FOX News and stated “She claims to be a teacher and I understand if it’s Southwest College where she teaching. I’m not too sure where.”

This careless and callous language used by Sheriff Villanueva has resulted in a torrent of hateful messages totaling in the tens of thousands being directed at the college’s employees and students as well as on our social media accounts. The language the Sheriff used was deeply disappointing to me as his identification of our college was unnecessary and resulted in a direct attack on the only community college in South Central Los Angeles. To date, and despite my best attempts, I have still not heard directly from him. I continue to attempt to contact the Sheriff daily as it is imperative we discuss next steps with the Sheriff’s Department to assist us in repairing the damage that they have caused.

I also want to address the very false narratives being peddled about LASC at a national and international level, especially on social media. I could have never dreamed that a college built from the ashes of the Watts Rebellion with social justice embedded into the very fabric of who we are could be demonized, as many on social media are claiming, as a racist institution against our Hispanic and Latino students. Our students are the most precious thing about our campus and 48% of our credit students and 90% of our non-credit students identify as Hispanic/Latino. With our Puente Program and phenomenal Dream Resource Center, we have continued to stand in solidarity with our Hispanic students to combat all forms of hate. What happened to the Deputy in that video was despicable and we ask that justice and accountability are the outcomes from the situation. However, the lesson learned from all of this is that hate is very real, and our society MUST continue to do better. Our actions matter, our words matter, and those that create hate have no place in our civil dialogue.  Our efforts inside and outside of the classroom continues to be transformational for our students and we must continue to lean in, protect them, and prepare them to meet this world head on so they can become leaders that our community needs now more than ever.

I also want to address the other false narrative that LASC has been indoctrinating hate against the police within our classrooms by hiring individuals like the woman in the video. Yes, the woman in the video was an instructor at LASC, but she has not worked at the college since 2017. Even more importantly, that individual was held accountable for her actions, which is why she was only employed for one year. Our college has a demonstrated history of holding individuals accountable who breed hate and divisive attitudes. LASC serves 100% students of color, both Black and Brown. This false narrative has been one of the most hurtful in attempting to paint our college as some left-wing cult, brainwashing students to hate both Hispanics and the Police. As LASC Family, we all know that this could not be further from the truth. We have been supportive of the Sheriff’s Department Deputies working on our campus and have consistently spoken highly of their commitment to keeping our campus and students safe. These false narratives and unrelenting attacks on a small college that serves the most diverse students in our District have been a disgusting display of politics at its worst. Even more important, the ongoing attacks against our Hispanic and Latino students are unacceptable. We stand proudly with our Hispanic and Latino students and will continue to provide a safe and culturally responsive learning environment.

We live in such a polarized time that silence is not acceptable. We have done our best to navigate this situation that none of us could have predicted. It has been difficult for me on a personal level to try and separate my personal rage at these attacks on our college from my position as President. Trying to balance relationships while asking for accountability is a difficult task, one that I am still working through. I hope that you know me well enough after almost three years as president to believe me that I will never let anyone speak about our college negatively. I love our college with all of my heart and will stand up to fight for our students, our college, and our community. I am grateful that I have each of you to help me in this effort and to combat these false narratives and fight to protect the college we all love.

Please reach out if I can support you and know that I see you and appreciate you.

Sending love to you to all.

In Solidarity,

 

Seher Awan, Ed.D, MBA, MPA

President, Los Angeles Southwest College

Follow me on Instagram @LASCprez

Follow me on Twitter @SeherAwan13

#LASCtheplacetobe

 

Pronouns: she, her, hers

 

Los Angeles Southwest College

1600 West Imperial Highway

Los Angeles, CA 90047

P (323) 241-5273

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awans@lasc.edu