Bellevue Community College Diversity Caucus

2002 to 2003 Report to the Community

The work of the Diversity Caucus has always been about excellence at our institution. If you look at the accomplishments for this academic year, you will see much evidence of that. We've worked hard this year--all of us--to make Bellevue Community College a learning community that is ethical and humane. We haven't just helped students who are underserved or disadvantaged, we've enriched the lives of all our students with some of the most creative curriculum this college has seen. Pluralism brings another layer of complexity to what we teach. It forces us to be original and innovative because much of this new and pertinent body of knowledge is not contained in traditional pedagogy.

We haven't just made the environment more nurturing for our faculty, administrators, and staff of color. All our colleagues have remarked that the professional development activities have been among the best they've ever attended. We've heard our professional development described with phrases like "transformative" and "intellectually challenging." Our community has shown great maturity in agreeing to hear everyone's truth because often the truth can bring discomfort or even pain.

We've brought the community into our campus with exciting and educational events. Leaders of many backgrounds have interacted with our students. A good portion of  the articles written about BCC this year were about Diversity Caucus sponsored events or activities.

Most importantly of all, we've come together. We come to trust each other and to know each other as good friends. This is important in the coming months and years if we are to continue the transformation of our college. Our resolve will be tested by external and internal challenges to our vision. At this early, fragile stage of our evolution, divisiveness is dangerous. Although, we may disagree, we need to stay connected.

Thanks to all the members of the Diversity Caucus who gave up their precious time to cook a meal,  distribute posters, work on the budget, raise funds, organize events, arrange for publicity, bring classes to forums, train others, book a room, or attend the numerous meetings it took to achieve this momentous year.

Ethnic and Cultural Studies Program approved by Curriculum Advisory Committee

Kim Pollock provides leadership for Ethnic Studies.

Under the leadership of Instructional Pluralism Committee chair, Kim Pollock, Bellevue Community College has an official Ethnic and Cultural Studies Program. Kim has been working hard to review thirty-one comparable courses at four-year institutions with the goal of offering courses as early as Fall 2003 and having the full program listed in the Winter 2004 catalog. Kim will also work with other faculty to develop the courses and to articulate the courses to four-year institutions. Accomplishing all this in a time period of one year has been nothing short of a miracle. Let’s not forget that Kim was also a professional development mover and shaker, planning and facilitating Courageous Conversations sessions with Glen Singleton and for professional development day plus the Courageous Teaching: Best Practices for Teaching Diversity. This she accomplished while maintaining a full teaching load. Thanks to Kim for making one of the Diversity Caucus’ major goals a reality.

Next year look for more major collaborations and Dr. Charles Johnson to speak on campus. Thanks to the work of Ron Taplin, Tim Wise will be speaking at our 2004 Martin Luther King celebrations.


The Instructional Pluralism Committee put through the Ethnic and Cultural Studies Program in record time.

Successful American Indian Film Festival focuses on issues of image, language, society and politics.

Donna Meek

Phil Lucas (as Tadadaho in Broken Chain)

Donna Meek gave life to the excellent American Indian Film Festival at BCC (held from April 16 to 18) and we are grateful for her energy and vision. Highlights of the festival included storytelling by legendary Lashootseed elder, Vi Hilbert who was accompanied by flutist Gary Stroutsos playing the Indian flute (first day) as well as an Indian drum performance led by Matthew Warbonnet. Northern Exposure fans had a great homecoming with Elaine Miles. Producer Roger Baerwolf talked about the making of Smoke Signals. The luminary Phil Lucas, a Chocataw Indian and  BCC's own award-winning filmmaker of over 107 films including the feature film Broken Chain starring Pierce Brosnan, presented his documentaries on the Native American community. The festival concluded with an extraordinary American Indian-inspired potluck.

Special mention is given to the diversity grant from the Washington State Library which was instrumental in the transformation of the college. Thanks for Myra Van Vactor for her hard work in securing this grant. Collaboration between Donna Meek and Phil Lucas will continue next year with their multidisciplinary course on media images of the American Indian. Don't forget this was our first annual film festival. Watch out for the fireworks next year.


Vi Hulbert

Frank Wu and Yellow: The myth of the model minority, affirmative action, and other issues of race beyond black and white. 

Frank Wu

Renown Howard University law professor and civil rights activist, Frank Wu, appeared on campus for a series of events on April 24 and 25. Professor Wu gave two student sessions on Race: Beyond Black and White; a community forum on the Model Minority, the keynote on professional development day, and a break-out session on affirmative action. Many faculty remarked that it was the best professional development keynote ever. Rapt attention was paid to Professor Wu’s inside analysis as an expert witness in the University of Michigan affirmative action case. Key takeaways from his sessions: Ample evidence that racism exists in America and permeates everything we do. Everyone can identify and condemn hate crimes but institutional racism is more pervasive and insidious. Let’s focus on the problem rather than the remedies. The myth of Asian Americans being the model minority is used as wedge between Asian Americans and other races. It also obscures ample evidence of racism hindering Asian Americans.

Thanks to Alan Yabui who selflessly sold books during all sessions to raise $1000 for the Ruthann Kurose Student of Color Achievement Scholarship.


Frank Wu spoke to a packed community forum.


Courageous Conversations take BCC into up-front, personal, and often painful discussions about institutional racism.

Glen Singleton

Close to 60 people attended two days of training (Friday and Saturday) on having Courageous Conversations about racism with nationally recognized consultant Glen Singleton. Described as a transforming experience by many of the participants, Glen Singleton took the group through the productive and often painful process of having real conversations without the barriers of white privilege. A group of over 20 have continued with a follow-on day-long training session and weekly sessions to work out issues of institutional racism in a radically different and very effective way. The core of the process is that the change is fundamental and personal. Everyone in the group is hopeful that the long evolution towards an ethical and humane college community free of racism will be sustained with this effort.

Thanks to Myra Van Vactor for getting the pivotal grant from the Washington State Library and to Lucy Macneil for knowing that we were ready to have these conversations. Akemi Matsumoto, Helen Taylor, and Kim Pollock worked long and hard to find Glen Singleton, recruit people for the sessions, and coordinate the training.



BCC faculty, staff, and administrators agree to experience discomfort and speak their truth in courageous conversations.


Community leaders speak to BCC students

Through the Library Media Center lecture series and other venues plus the efforts of Rossie Norris and Alan Yabui, community leaders such as Larry Gossett, Bob Santos, and Doug Chin have spoken to students on issues of economic development in King County and on the history of the International District.

Thanks to Myra Van Vactor for getting the diversity grant from the Washington State Library that made this event possible..



Employee Diversity Committee’s events encourage campus community to come together.

Emily Fisher collects food donations at the Bite of BCC

The BCC Employee Diversity Committee has worked tirelessly all year to mount a number of events to encourage people to come together and celebrate their cultural heritage. They started out with the viewing of the movie, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, followed with the Irish Gig, and wrapped up the year with the delicious Bite of BCC.

Members of the committee worked long and hard to make all these events a success and we thank them for bringing the BCC family closer together. Events like these do much to improve employee morale and to make BCC more than just a place to work. Thanks to the capable Becky Turnbull for chairing this committee and all the people who contributed time to planning, promoting, cooking, cleaning, and good company.

Becky Turnbull, Juan Ulloa, Tony Akhlagi, and Cora Nixon were among the gourmet cooks for the sumptuous BCC Bites.


Ruthann Kurose Students of Color Achievement Scholarship breaks through first year goal of $10,000.

Ruthann Kurose, President of the BCC Board of Trustees

Ruthann Kurose marks her tenth year as a trustee at Bellevue Community College. It's no coincidence that the college has gone through transformative and often painful process of routing out institutional racism while Ruthann Kurose sits at the helm of BCC’s Board of Trustees. We're definitely on our way but none of this would have been possible without Ruthann's guidance.

That’s much news for celebration but unfortunately many students of color still lack financial resources to pay for quickly rising tuition costs. Enter the Ruthann Kurose Student of Color Achievement Scholarship—a mouthful but a godsend nonetheless. Having Ruthann's name on the scholarship is a natural. It's a good way of acknowledging what she's done for the college. The fundraising began as a grass roots movement among a few BCC faculty and staff and has snowballed into a major effort by the whole campus. Like its namesake, the scholarship fund is ambitious. Of course, most people contribute to honor Ruthann Kurose but their contributions signal support for the direction that BCC has taken.  Names on the contributors' list is a virtual who's-who of community and political leaders including Larry Gossett, Tomio Moriguchi, the Organization of Chinese Americans, JACL, Ruth Woo, Velma Veloria, Sharon Tomiko-Santos, Vera Ing, George Northcroft, and more. Their names give outside endorsement and credibility to BCC's pluralism efforts.

With the power of the Kurose name, in a few short months we've exceeded our goal of $10,000. We're resolved to continue fundraising. Thanks to Ruthann and all those who worked hard to make this scholarship fund possible.


Courageous Teaching

Helen Taylor

Helen Taylor and the members of the Professional Development Committee have worked all year to infuse pluralism across all professional development activities from the keynote address of Frank Wu to follow-on Courageous Conversations sessions. Twenty faculty from across the campus participated in the workshop “Courageous Teaching: Best Practices in Pluralism.” The goal was to provide a forum to share teaching strategies related to the general education outcome in cultural diversity.  As a result of that workshop, assignments from the participants are posted at (link removed). These faculty and many others across the campus have created innovative curriculum to address the increasing diversity of our students. We applaud them all.

(Left) The graduating class of the Nursing Assistant Program with their super instructors: Linda Knodel, Anne Neethling, Lynne Phillips, and Lorna Boulton. (Right) BCC business students consult with the Bellevue Entrepreneur Center and minority-owned businesses.


Other accomplishments

Julie Soto, Carol McKee, Terry Weston, and Alan Yabui, presented a short diversity program, "Ting: Listening to Many Voices," at the League for Innovation Learning Conference held in Phoenix, Arizona from March 14 to 16, 2003. Included in the presentation a brief summary of the work of the BCC Diversity Caucus.

Starting at the beginning of the year, we drafted and signed the Pluralism Compact.

Thanks to Juan Ulloa, we unveiled a number of websites around Diversity Caucus and its events.

The Diversity Caucus' influence was felt in the selection of On the Rez for 2003-4 BCC Reads.

We supported a host of other events and organizations including the History of African American Leagues, Bruce Lee Seattle Exhibit, the Native American Student Association's great Symposium: The Evolution of the First Nations in the United States with Eloise Cobell, Wing Luke Museum, Asian Counseling and Resource Center, and the University of Washington BEDP.

Diversity Caucus events have been featured in the press throughout the year:

'Myth of model minority' targeted
April 24, 2003 | The Seattle Times

Bellevue film fest celebrates Native Americans
April 16, 2003 | The Seattle Times

BCC interactive forum to focus on race issues
April 11, 2003 | King County Journal

BCC to present first Native American Film Festival
April 11, 2003 | King County Journal

Tackling diversity: BCC department will try to reflect community's ethnic makeup
February 20, 2003 | The Seattle Times


Thanks to:

Sayumi Irey, Diversity Caucus Co-Chair, for keeping everyone on task.

Akemi Matsumoto for fighting against racism wherever she goes.


Jack Surendranath for strategy and guidance.

Lucy Macneil for unswerving support and heart.

Myra Van Vactor for the pivotal Diversity grant from the Washington State Library.

Alan Yabui, Diversity Caucus Co-Chair, for being Alan.

The highly productive, highly energized working community that is the BCC Diversity Caucus owes an incalculable debt to the boundless energy, pragmatic idealism, and visionary strategic brilliance of Leslie Lum.

As members of the Diversity Caucus, we want to extend our special thanks to Leslie for her outstanding leadership in rejuvenating the entire BCC pluralism effort by building a life-giving coalition of outside support and advocacy, so that we now no longer labor like Sisyphus, exhausted by endless repetition and little meaningful movement. ---Donna Meek