Dear Monmouth University Community:
These first days of 2021 have been more eventful than any of us could have ever anticipated. As we continue to combat an ongoing global pandemic, and persevere in the fight for racial justice, we witnessed last Wednesday an unprecedented and disgraceful attack on the United States Capitol and the basic tenets of democracy that undergird our rule of law and sense of community. Like so many of you, I have spent the past week reflecting on the attack on our Capitol, which was at once an attack on our democratic ideals and on our sense of justice and equality.
For me, this was also profoundly personal. As an undergraduate student in Washington, DC, I had the great privilege of interning on Capitol Hill for then-Senator Al Gore. The energy on the Hill was incredible, and experiencing a small glimpse of the inner workings of American Democracy at the highest level was a highlight of my college career. To see marauders breaking into that hallowed building was a sight I never imagined – then or now. I am deeply dismayed that a small mob could, for a moment, strip the Capitol of its standing as a symbol of the democratic principles that we hold so dear. I am equally disheartened that members of this mob, who attempted to disrupt the electoral process and the peaceful transfer of power, did so under the auspices of bigotry, bias, racism, and hate.
As an American, I condemn these acts in the strongest way possible. And, as an American, I am proud that our elected officials – Democrats and Republicans alike – reconvened to continue the people’s work, demonstrating the enduring strength of our American democracy. Our system of government bent last week, but it did not break.
As an educator, I feel a desire to recommit myself, as well as the University I have the privilege of serving, to upholding our commitment to being a diverse, equitable, just, and inclusive community – the kind of academic community that represents the very best of America. I am encouraged by the good work on our campus to educate our citizenry, to develop the next generation of compassionate leaders, to uphold democratic ideals of free speech and mutual respect, and to foster a decidedly antiracist campus community. That is what it will take – in our own small corner of this vast nation – to help prevent an event like this from ever happening again.
These remain challenging times. As we continue winter break and prepare to resume our activities on January 25, please know that support services remain available for all members of the Monmouth University community who seek them. Counseling and Psychological Services and the Intercultural Center are just a phone or Zoom call away.
While our nation remains divided, let us continue to do our small part to heal it.
Dr. Patrick F. Leahy