Words have power, and the power of language is at the center of what we teach in the Department of English at Gettysburg College. Furthermore, literature offers a means by which to approach the moral, ethical, social, cultural, and political complexities of human experience. At the foundation of humanistic inquiry is an unwavering commitment to the equality and dignity of all human beings and a respect for the convictions of others, regardless of political affiliation.
As a powerful rhetoric of bigotry has infiltrated public discourse, and as acts of harassment, hate crimes, and racial terror are on the rise, our department joins together to reconfirm forcefully the goals at the core of our program: exposure to diverse cultures and historical periods; careful interpretation and judgment through close reading, fact-based research, and nuanced critical thinking; consideration of multiple theoretical frameworks to reach conclusions; principled and coherent argumentation; creativity and complexity; critical self-reflection; clear and respectful written and spoken expression; and sustained contemplation and deep focus.
We affirm the rights of all members of the Gettysburg community to pursue knowledge without being hindered because of identity or origin. We therefore oppose any action that, intentionally or not, contributes to the creation of a climate of fear, hostility, and suspicion of our neighbors; and we condemn harassment of all kinds. Racism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, and other discriminatory ideologies—including those that are anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, or anti-Semitic—contradict our core values as scholars and as citizens and must not be ignored or normalized. We reject all attempts to simplify, dismiss, or debase the values of democracy that underlie the mission of the college.
Our responsibility is to support, to foster, and to challenge each other, and to speak up when we see injustices. Our department recommits to this responsibility now as much as ever.
17 February 2017