If you let a needy stranger leave your door
empty handed, when you, in need, go door-
to-door, you’ll find you are a stranger there.
—Saadi, 13th century Iranian poet
Welcome back! We hope the Thanksgiving holiday gave everyone a chance to step back after the devastation wrought by Sandy to be with family and friends and to reflect on just how much we all have to be grateful for, from those of us whose lives were little touched by the storm to those of us who are still recovering.
As we settle in for the last four weeks of what has been one of the most difficult semesters any of us can remember, we are mindful of the wisdom behind Saadi’s words, that a community is only as strong as the care its members show for each other, especially when they are in need. Our hearts continue to go out to those still suffering in Sandy’s aftermath—among them our friends, colleagues and students—but we are also filled with gratitude and humility at the way our members have proven over and over again during the past month that Nassau Community College is a community in the best and strongest sense of that word.
Right from the start, we took an active role in responding to the destruction Sandy left in its wake. We found ways to check up on each other to make sure we were all okay; we organized donations, whether for the shelters on campus or any faculty, staff, students or administrators who might need them; we brought our classes to volunteer at the shelter, or we volunteered ourselves; we have been helping out in our home communities as well, donating, fund raising, volunteering to go to the Rockaways or one of the other hard hit areas; and we have all been helping our students—some of whom have lost everything—find ways to make sure their academic careers do not suffer irreparably because of the storm.
There are too many people to thank here by name and, even if we tried, we would end up leaving out the many people whose efforts we don’t know about, but we want you to know how humbled we are by those efforts. They epitomize what the community in community college is supposed to mean, but they also embody what unions do, demonstrating just how important to our success the sense of community at the heart of unionism has been. The issues we were facing on campus before the storm have not gone away. We will have more to say about them in the coming weeks and months as we gear up for full-blown negotiations with the administration, the Board of Trustees and Nassau County next year. For now, though, we would like to focus on the spirit you have shown during these very difficult times: that on this campus, none of us are strangers; on this campus, no one in need will ever have to walk away empty-handed.