I write this on Monday, November 4 from a Bay Area beginning to recover from devastating fires, power outages, and school closures. In the two weeks – across California – we’ve seen campuses dramatically evacuated and homes lost for the third straight fall in a row. Is this the new normal?
While I don’t have a definitive answer, I can say that WACAC is prepared to advocate for our students, colleagues and institutions during times of crisis. The new WACAC Rapid Response Plan provides a framework for leadership to determine what might be considered a “crisis,” if WACAC action is required, and if so, what possible responses WACAC might choose to pursue.
How has this played out this fall? Your Presidential trio (Marc McGee, Phil Moreno, and I) have consulted regularly as wildfire season kicked off a few weeks ago, and after multiple events the weekend of October 26-27, we called an Executive Committee meeting to confer with a wider group of WACAC leaders. The Executive Committee is a smaller subset of the WACAC Executive Board, and in the case of a rapid response event, also includes our coordinators in affected areas – in this case, Gary Clark (Southern California) and Katy Murphy (Northern California). This team of eleven drafted internal and external communication that has resulted in heightened national awareness of the crisis in California, as well as many college application deadline extensions for our students, counselors, and teachers across the country.
We recognize that we are not yet out of the woods (no pun intended!), so any subsequent communication and/or actions that result from disasters during the 19-20 year in the WACAC region will be posted to the WACAC Rapid Response page online. We are also fine-tuning the way we communicate with colleges and universities, as many asked for best practices in how to engage with our families and schools. Finally, we are obviously open to feedback as we continue to navigate these unchartered waters of supporting our membership through extraordinary times.
I want to thank Gary, Katy, and the rest of the Executive Committee for being available at the drop of a hat to assist our membership in times of crisis. Here’s to smoother sailing in November, and hopefully an early start to the winter rainy season!