Letter to campus community regarding unity - November 13, 2016

Dear members of the campus community,                                         

I write to follow up on my post-election day message.  The feelings of many across our nation are being experienced right here on our campus.  While some are pleased with the results of the presidential election, many continue to feel sad, discouraged, angry, and, fearful.  I am aware of some instances in which members of our community have made comments that have reinforced those negative feelings, and I ask you all to be sensitive and thoughtful in your interactions with one another.  This is not a matter of politics.  This is a matter of basic human decency, empathy, and respect.

I have also heard many stories about members of this community who are supporting one another, regardless of political affiliation. Various offices and departments have offered support for students who are feeling worried about what this election could mean for them personally.  Many individual faculty, staff, and students have offered words of reassurance to one another, a willingness to listen, and acts of kindness. I am moved by these positive stories, and they give me great hope.

I acknowledge that some of you are feeling that your future is uncertain as a result of this election.  As Gettysburg College president, I want to assure you that I support you personally and that Gettysburg College will do all it can to support you.

Some students and faculty are organizing a moment of unity on Monday, and I applaud their efforts.  I invite the entire campus community to join in that moment if you are able.  We will gather at 12:15 p.m. near the Peace Pole at the center of our campus.  The organizers are sharing additional information on the digests and on Facebook.  If your schedule does not permit you to participate in person, I hope that you will join in spirit.

Char Gray-Sorensen, Executive Director of PA Campus Compact, sent me a sentiment that I want to share with all of you.  She said that ubuntu is a South African term that says we are better together than apart.  In that spirit, let us support one another, coming together around our community’s values of diversity and inclusion, the worth and dignity of all people, and responsible citizenship.  We are indeed better together than apart.


Janet Morgan Riggs