Reflecting on yesterday's events at the U.S. Capitol

Jan. 7, 2021

Dear University Community,

As I reflect on yesterday’s events, I am disheartened and shocked about what happened at our nation’s Capitol. I never thought I would see such a display in my lifetime. Yes, individuals have a right to protest in our country – it is a founding principle of our democracy – but we are also a nation of laws. Violence is not a remedy, and those who incite or encourage violence are wrong.

It also has generated national dialogue on a double standard regarding how protesters were treated yesterday compared to those who have previously rallied for social justice and inclusion, even when those protests were peaceful. Some of you have expressed similar views and I understand your frustration. Justice and equality must be applied universally and consistently, in all aspects of our lives and actions.

This country is in a tenuous position. People are tired, scared, and angry for many reasons. The pandemic has only added to that. We need to find common ground by having civil discourse that does not magnify conflict and finds solutions to our differences.

Irrespective of your political ideology or feelings about the outcome of the presidential election, we need to move past the division and rhetoric that leads us down a destructive path. Yes, we have our differences and need to give every voice a chance to be heard. But we need to exhibit patience and respect along the way. Higher education plays a critical role in such civil discourse and we need to take the lead and do our part.

Please stay healthy and safe. I look forward to continuing this dialogue and seeing you in a couple of weeks as we begin the spring semester.

Warm regards,

Keith E. Whitfield, Ph.D.