Dear Union College Community,
As we return to campus this week for our winter term, I hope that all students, faculty and staff had a restful and enjoyable break.
Sadly, however, I am writing to you about what is unambiguously a dark day in America’s long history. Like many of you, I am deeply troubled by the disturbing scenes of chaos unfolding in Washington, D.C.
We have all watched with shock and sadness as political differences have escalated beyond words and peaceful protest to violence against property and people.
It is a day on which the U.S. Capitol, one of the foundations of our democracy and a place I first visited on a 6th-grade school trip to Washington, has been vandalized, breached and occupied - not by foreign troops, but by Americans who refuse to accept the results of a free and fair election.
As an educational institution, we have no role in affecting what is happening at the Capitol today. However, we are critical to what happens at the Capitol and around the world tomorrow and in the many tomorrows to come.
You have heard me say this many times. Through what happens in our classrooms, across campus and in our programs around the world, we develop our students to lead with wisdom, empathy and courage, in ways large and small, now and across multiple tomorrows. It is our core mission and one that we must continue to embrace.
Earlier today, we announced a program of events to be held this month to further prepare our community to confront political differences through words, not through unlawful actions like what we are witnessing today in Washington.
This series, part of our Constructive Engagement initiative, is titled, “I'm Right, You're Wrong: A Civil Discourse Series at Union College.” It is rooted in three discussion-based events centralized around political dialogue and communication, within our national and local community. I encourage all of you to participate in this and other programs that give our students, faculty, staff and alumni opportunities to share, in a respectful way, their experiences and perspectives.
I know the unspeakable actions today in Washington, D.C. are difficult to watch and comprehend. I share your concerns about what it means for the country as it seeks to move forward with a new administration. I am hopeful that we will learn from today’s actions and reassert ourselves as a model for democracies around the world. Achieving this goal will take work by all of us.
I look forward to seeing all of you in the coming days as we resume this and other work together during our winter term.