August 21, 2016
This Sunday, Aug. 21, the University’s Interim President Chris Fiorentino joined West Chester Borough Mayor Carolyn Comitta '74 and local community, school and religious leaders in signing the Greater West Chester Code of Values Community Resolution and Pledge. The document reaffirms greater West Chester’s commitment to being an inclusive and welcoming community.
Referencing national racial tensions and social injustices – in particular those against African Americans, including recent local incidents – the pledge is "a public declaration of the values we honor and the behaviors to which we object." All those present at the Charles A. Melton Arts & Education Center's annual Community Unity Day were invited to sign the pledge.
West Chester NAACP president James Jennings, Department of Justice representatives and a committee of social justice leaders had facilitated drafting the resolution and pledge, which states that these community leaders will assemble "when incidents happen that may be a result of hatred or discrimination … to address issues of concern brought to our attention." The goals are the safety and security of all citizens and making respect toward one another and equality, not just through policy and protocol, but in how we treat each other in our daily lives" paramount to the community.
Mayor Comitta stated, "What makes West Chester so wonderful is our diversity. We are an inclusive and loving community. … We pledge to always be there for each other." The pledge includes the powerful phrase "stand together and take action to make sure every one of our neighbors feels safe and welcome here," and states that respect for one another "is the foundation of the growth and stability of Greater West Chester."
The pledge was created in response to several recent local racist incidents targeting the African/American community and to national anti-Muslim rhetoric, the immigration debate and police/community tension.
Those who sign the pledge are empowered to help leaders assure that greater West Chester remains a welcoming community for all. To that effect, an Action Plan has been outlined and is attached to the Pledge. As a living document, the Resolution and Pledge will be reviewed annually by the community.
The strength of the pledge lies in this resolution: "Resolved, as people of good will, we will not tolerate hateful speech or actions toward any individual or group in our community. We know that when one of us suffers, we all suffer and the vibrancy of our community is diminished. We are united in that understanding."