The tumultuous events that occurred in our nation’s capital and across the country yesterday have rattled many of our assumptions about how democracy is supposed to work. Contemporary media and technology make bearing witness to extant and future civil unrest more immediate, frequent, and emotionally taxing. While many of our university constituents have been and are watching the events unfold in our nation’s capital, we are particularly concerned for the safety of our staff, students, faculty, alumni and trustees who live and work in the DC area.
Being a citizen in a democratic society, and specifically in the United States, emboldens the “right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” That being said, there has always been and will continue to be citizens who chose violence over peace and force over petition. Moreover, in cases where there seems to be no discernable path to redressing grievances, there has always been and will continue to be citizens who chose to take to the streets, rush the hill, scale the walls, and brazenly enact civil disobedience. In those instances, we look for government and law enforcement to be ethically discerning, act with impartiality, and hold our trust in humanely fulfilling their charge. Our democracy guarantees that critical debates will and must ensue, in order to make sense of individual and collective actions and how we will move forward to ensure the equal protection and equitable treatment of our citizens and their rights.
Yesterday’s actions by fellow citizens on Capitol Hill—and specifically at the Capitol Building—evince why Fielding is ever more important, particularly with respect to (re)committing ourselves toward “advancing equality and justice in our University, and—in the local, national, and global communities impacted by our work.” As we move into our scheduled virtual sessions throughout this month, may we all take this time for reflection about our own roles in activating scholarship and knowledge in pursuit of strengthening civil discourse and society.
Katrina S. Rogers, President, Fielding Graduate University
Monique L. Snowden, Provost and Senior Vice President, Fielding Graduate University