Dear Friends and Colleagues,
Today I join with you in our collective sadness and horror over what happened yesterday in Washington, D.C. I am deeply disturbed that a group of rioters stormed and occupied the United States Capitol building. That this was done in an effort to prevent Congress from certifying the results of the Electoral College vote and thereby an attempt to deny the democratic will of the American people is not and cannot ever be acceptable. The First Amendment gives us five fundamental rights including the right to speak our political views, even loudly and angrily if we choose. However, it does not condone or protect acts of violence or attempts at mob rule, and those ideas can never be accepted or normalized in a free and democratic society. Our great republic must not tolerate it.
I know that many of you share my horror and I know too that many of you have been traumatized many times over the past year. We have been traumatized by the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, among too many more acts of hatred and violence, as well as the impacts of the Coronavirus, economic and educational insecurity, a chaotic election, and now this new and fresh example of the worst that lives among us.
I am deeply saddened also to know that a young woman and three others lost their lives as a part of these horrific events. They did not need to die yesterday and even without knowing the whole of their stories, I mourn for them because of what their deaths mean.
As I reflect on all that happened yesterday, I am reminded of two things that give me some measure of strength and even hope. First, the bravery and selflessness of those who responded to the crisis. They were all once again asked to put themselves in harm’s way to protect us and our democracy—they stepped boldly into that breach. Second, the reconvening of Congress. Statements from leaders in both houses have given me hope that the work of the people’s representatives and senators will continue despite the forces of hatred and division. Whoever was your preferred candidate, it is important to remember that our democracy is stronger than those who would seek to destroy it.
I want to remind you all that if you need to talk to someone or to get help of any kind there are resources for you. For students please contact the Student Care Team or CAPS. For employees, please contact EAP. Furthermore, myself and the university take reports of discrimination and bias very seriously. If you or someone you know witness or experience a situation you can submit a report at www.ewu.edu/diversity.
We can choose to be consumed by this hate and division, to give in to it, and thereby become part of it. I will not and do not believe that we will choose that path. I believe that we will reject the toxicity and the ideologies of white supremacy, anti-Semitism, and discrimination on display yesterday. I know that we will, as a campus and a community, support one another and we will find our way through this moment together. Let us continue our work both inside and outside of the classroom to create real change for ourselves and our communities. We will continue to be Eagle Strong.