About HCC


A group of students smiling and laughing together

A commitment to diversity is an integral part of Holyoke Community College's mission to provide comprehensive, high-quality educational opportunities that are responsive to community needs and meet the intellectual, esthetic, and practical needs of a diverse student body.

As a community dedicated to accessible education and community outreach, we recognize the importance of creating an environment of respect and inclusiveness. We believe that HCC is enriched by the diversity of our students, faculty, and staff, and strengthened by a climate in which we value and learn from our differences while working toward common goals.

We are committed to fostering a welcoming and supportive academic environment, where all students, faculty, and staff feel safe and valued as members of our community.

Effective teaching requires that faculty be able to connect with their students' experience of the world. Central to fostering this connection is an understanding of the diverse racial, ethnic, and socio-economic backgrounds, religious and political beliefs, ages, genders, sexual orientation, physical abilities, and learning styles that students bring to the classroom.

HCC is committed to offering an inclusive curriculum that reflects the diverse perspectives of a pluralistic society. Along with critical thinking, quantitative reasoning, effective communication, and information literacy, knowledge of diversity is one of the five core competencies that comprise HCC's general education requirements.

Every student and employee of the college shall be responsible individually and collectively for promoting and maintaining a safe environment that is conducive to learning and which embraces the accords of civility and of human dignity. The college regards discrimination on the basis of gender identity/expression to be inconsistent with the establishment of an atmosphere that supports the full engagement of HCC students, faculty, and staff. Gender identity is an individual's personal sense of being male, female, or elsewhere on the spectrum of gender (including those who identify as transgender, or are non-traditional in their gender identity). Gender expression includes external characteristics and behaviors of gender identity such as dress, mannerisms, speech patterns, and social interactions. HCC will take reasonable measures to prevent and discourage all acts of intolerance and harassment on the basis of gender identity/expression, and will act positively to investigate alleged harassment or discrimination and to affect a remedy or resolution when an allegation is determined to be valid.

HCC is committed to accessibility and inclusion, and to ensuring that all are able to participate in college programs, activities, and events. Please click here to access information information we hope you will find useful in planning a visit to HCC.

Holyoke Community College is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, religion, age, veteran status, genetic information, gender identity, or sexual orientation in its programs and activities as required by Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and other applicable statutes and college policies. The College prohibits sexual harassment, including sexual violence. Inquiries or complaints concerning discrimination, harassment, retaliation or sexual violence shall be referred to the College's Affirmative Action and/or Title IX Coordinator, the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission or the United States Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights.

Policy Statement

The community colleges affirm the commitment to affirmative action and equal opportunity. The efforts are on behalf of women, minorities, the disabled, and persons at least 40 years of age, known as the "protected group." Affirmative Action will include those with veteran status when such status is considered part of the "protected group."

Community colleges truly committed to equal employment opportunity and affirmative action can go beyond developing policies and practices that prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, age, gender, sexual orientation, religion, national origin, or disability. They can take meaningful steps to recruit, hire, transfer, promote, and train women and minorities to enhance their representation.

Affirmative action requires the college to do more than ensure employment and education neutrality. As the phrase implies, affirmative action requires the college to make positive efforts to educate, recruit, employ, and promote qualified members of the protected group who may have been excluded, even if that exclusion cannot be traced to particular discriminatory actions on the part of the college. The premise of the affirmative action concept is that unless positive action is undertaken to overcome the effects of systemic institutional forms of exclusion and discrimination, a benign neutrality in employment and education practices will tend to perpetuate the status quo ante indefinitely.

The following specific policies are established:

  • Equal opportunity and affirmative action shall apply to all segments of the College; full and part‑time employment; day and continuing education; the curriculum and offerings of the College.
  • Equal opportunity and affirmative action shall be applied to the recruitment process for employment and/or access to education.
  • Students will have access to the College, programs of study, activities, and other resources intended to serve them, according to the policies of the individual Colleges.
  • Equal employment opportunity and affirmative action will be realized in all personnel employment, including recruitment, application for employment, hiring, benefits, compensation, training, promotion, and termination.
  • All policies, procedures, privileges, and conditions of the College will follow and incorporate applicable equal opportunity and affirmative action rules and regulations.

The above‑stated policies are intended to be applied broadly with the goal of promoting equal opportunity and diversity in community colleges. The community colleges pledge to apply all policies consistently, fairly, and vigorously. Attempts to subvert or abuse these policies will not be tolerated. Appropriate disciplinary action will be taken in the case of an infraction. Such disciplinary action shall be consistent with the appropriate collective bargaining agreement, if applicable.

All policies are made in compliance with laws and regulations and executive orders promulgated by the federal and state governments and other appropriate agencies and authorities, where applicable. Read the full Affirmative Action policy document.


Inquiries regarding compliance with Title IX may be directed to:

Olivia Kynard
Interim Affirmative Action Officer & Title IX Coordinator
Holyoke Community College 
303 Homestead Avenue 
Holyoke, MA 01040 

What we are

TransCampus is a campus advocacy group comprised of students, faculty, and staff who are committed to creating and fostering an open and inclusive campus community for individuals who are transgender/genderqueer/questioning. We've been active at HCC since 2007, and we're still going strong!

What we care about

TransCampus focuses on a range of goals, including:

  • Educating HCC's community about gender identity and expression
  • Including protection for gender identity/expression in HCC's Code of Student Conduct (approved in Spring 2010)
  • Encouraging campus policies and procedures friendly to trans people (gender identity options on forms, use of preferred names on class rosters, etc.)
  • Advocating for single-user bathrooms in all new construction
  • Creating a trans-friendly culture by including an awareness of our trans community in publications, on posters and bulletin boards, and on the HCC website
  • Creating a Safe Zone space/lounge on campus for queer students
  • Working with critical departments on campus (especially police and health services) to ensure that staff is prepared to handle issues related to gender identity and expression appropriately
  • Building a strong community of transgender people and allies
  • Advocating for state and federal policies that provide protection for gender identity and expression, and attending rallies in Boston in support
Who we are

We are open to having new members, especially students! Right now we are:

  • Vivian Ostrowski, Director of Gateway to College Program (C 230, vostrowski@hcc.edu)
  • Idelia Smith, Assistant Vice President of Academic Administration (FR 325, ismith@hcc.edu)
  • Myriam Quinones, Coordinator of Multicultural Academic Services (FR 262, mquinones@hcc.edu
  • Jane Vecchio, Faculty, Psychology Department (C 312, jvecchio@hcc.edu)
Interested in learning more about Gender Identity & Expression?

The following classes may interest you:

  • ANT 101, Cultural Anthropology
  • ANT 114, Understanding Diversity
  • CRJ 210, Human Relations: Diversity & Ethical Issues
  • HSV/COM 212, Group Dynamics
  • PSY 203, Human Sexuality
  • SOC 215, Sociology of Sex & Gender
  • WST 100, Introduction to Women's Studies
  • WST 217/CRJ217, Women, Crime & Justice
Gender Inclusive Bathrooms & Locker Rooms
  • KC 2nd floor
  • KC 4th floor
  • First floor lounge between Frost and Donahue

Renovations to the newly acquired Center for Health Education will include gender-inclusive bathrooms. In addition, Genderqueer people who wish a private place to change can request a key to the Visitors Locker Room in the Bartley Center.

Are you an African American, Latino, Asian, or Native American young man looking for academic support with personalized attention? The ALANA Men in Motion Mentoring Program provides academic support, mentoring, and counseling.

If you're coming to HCC from a local high school, you may qualify for Multicultural Academic Services (MAS). The program supports students who are enrolled in HCC's ESOL classes, as well as other students from diverse backgrounds. You'll be part of a community of learners and develop the skills to help you succeed in college and beyond.

Are you interested in college but need some support along the way? STRIVE is designed to help you succeed. It provides ongoing academic and personal assistance to students who are first generation to college or low-income or have a documented disability.

ESL Classes at HCC

Do you want to graduate from college but need help with your English? HCC can help you reach your goal. The English as a Second Language (ESL) department offers four levels of Academic ESL for students who are working toward a degree or certificate at HCC. Courses are offered in English grammar, writing, reading, speaking, and listening. ESL credits may be used as Elective Credit for graduation in some programs of study. Make an appointment to find out what level is appropriate for you.