A call to action on behalf of democracy for those who work in higher ed (opinion)

As a college president and a scholar of democracy, I can say unequivocally that our United States democracy is robust sufficient to outlive a siege of our Capitol constructing. However our democracy shouldn’t should show it.

The weak point is just not in our democracy, however within the hearts and minds of those that vandalized the Capitol, who ruthlessly attacked others and who interrupted democracy at work by threatening the lives of our legislators and the Capitol Police. We must always all be reminded that the issue isn’t that one candidate misplaced, or that tens of millions of persons are disenchanted that their candidate didn’t prevail. Democracy permits for loud disappointment — even for sore losers. Their indignant voices are welcome, their protests are permitted — even when their opinions are counter to the opinions of those that are in energy or about to imagine it. Democracy requires some stage of fixed discomfort as we make room for a cacophony of voices and conflicting opinions.

However there’s a line, and it has clearly been crossed. Democracy relies on the rule of regulation — and on elected officers, residents and the navy following the regulation. Democracy can be constructed on the very primary understanding that every of us will comply with be ruled by the people who find themselves elected even once we don’t like or agree with them. Dwelling in a democracy is the promise that our time — or our celebration’s time — might come within the subsequent election. That was true 4 years in the past, and it ought to be true this yr as effectively.

Yesterday, the citizen rioters seizing our Capitol crossed over that line into the land of anarchy in a really seen approach. The issue comes within the crossing of that line, and in all the pieces that helped that mob to get there.

Let’s be trustworthy with ourselves that many different residents, elected officers and information shops participated in enabling yesterday’s siege. Finger-pointing, hate speech, scapegoating, unbounded presidential energy … did anybody actually imagine that it might result in nothing? Disgrace on all of us for each time we stayed silent once we knew higher, for each time that we mindlessly forwarded a politically hyped electronic mail or TikTok with out checking its veracity, for each time we rejected being mates with somebody from one other political persuasion, for each time we determined to remain in our personal echo chamber and get our information from just one information supply.

When strains are crossed, like at present, leaders should converse clearly and loudly. Whether or not because the president of a membership, a enterprise, a labor union or a college, we at all times have a strategy to get up and say “Sufficient! There isn’t any room on this college/enterprise/group/political celebration/no matter for violence. There isn’t any room for circumventing all that’s on the coronary heart of our democracy.” On the very least, a president ought to be the primary to leap as much as loudly and unequivocally say, “Do no violence in my title.”

However yesterday, “Sufficient!” needed to be yelled from each nook of our nation. I have fun the various Republicans and Democrats who mentioned it final evening. In a time like the current, “Sufficient!” doesn’t belong to at least one political celebration, gender, race or state. It’s the battle cry of all who worth democracy within the face of a siege. There’s one model of “Sufficient!” within the midst of the siege — that’s the second to be passionate, agency and maybe uncooked with our phrases and reactions. However within the days and months forward, we should dedicate ourselves to deepening that sentiment. That is the time to rebuild belief in our democracy, to carry one another accountable, to demand higher and extra from our leaders, information shops and political events. It is a time for justice for all of America, as a result of an assault on the U.S. Capitol is an assault on all America.

Educating Crucial-Pondering Advocates

And to the rioter who broke into the congressional places of work and left the “We won’t again down” notice, I wish to say the next: beware the college-aged college students and youngsters throughout this nation. They won’t again down, both. And their voices and collective motion will drown out any harm that you’ve got completed. For the final decade, I’ve watched as our younger individuals — at Shenandoah College, in the local people and elsewhere — have demanded a greater nation via peaceable, democratic protests and rallies whereas additionally eschewing violence and hatred. Thank goodness that their time for main our nation will come quickly.

We college members and directors in increased training all have a job in serving to our college students be critical-thinking activists for democracy. We should be certain that our college students hear many alternative voices on any given matter, and that alternatives for deep dialogue occur not simply within the school rooms and residence halls but additionally in cafeterias, commuter lounges, fraternities and sororities, and on-line.

We must always be certain that college students’ curricular and co-curricular experiences join them with the actual world — one in which there’s a multiplicity of political voices and preferences. Our college students have to know methods to take part in society, methods to hear and methods to current their very own concepts once they encounter a lot of disagreement. Groupthink doesn’t put together anybody effectively for all times exterior our campuses and school rooms. As college and directors, we should always keep in mind that practically all foundational and disciplinary expertise and information that college students develop in school can play a key position in supporting democracy — or in tearing it down.

Lastly, we should always abandon any pretense that every one concepts are equal. They aren’t. We must always demand that concepts are articulated and defended in significant methods which are grounded in science, knowledge, information of historical past and a dedication to bettering humanity.

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