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NVU President Elaine Collins Responds to Violence at U.S. Capitol

A Message from President Elaine C. Collins:

Dear NVU Community,

As we begin 2021 on the heels of an unprecedented and challenging year, the January 6 insurrection in the US Capitol—and the wounds it both caused and revealed—will long be remembered. I watched in horror as the events unfolded. The violence was particularly unsettling as intimidation to thwart democracy cannot be tolerated.

As your president, my primary duty is to ensure the safety and well-being of our campus community. As part of NVU’s social justice mission, I am also strongly committed to advancing knowledge that can bring about justice and equity for all.

It was heartbreaking to see the symbols of white supremacy and fascism within the hallowed grounds of the Capitol building—nooses, the Confederate flag, and symbols derived from the swastika. Those symbols attack the ideals of our democracy and lay bare our nation’s scars.

It wasn’t, of course, only an attack on a sacred building, our ideals, and the democratic process. There was loss of life. And within those walls, terror was wreaked on our nation’s people, not only our elected leaders, but staff, interns, pages, custodians—dedicated civil servants, all.

It is clear that our country has much work to do to see our ideals of democracy, equality, and liberty embrace all Americans. As educators, we desire a wide range of views in our discourse so that all sides of issues and the experiences of all can be included in our telling of history and in developing solutions to our problems.

That said, I want to be clear that NVU eschews violence of any kind and in any form. No matter your political views, I ask each of you, as a member of the NVU community and as a citizen of this world, to demonstrate our NVU Community Values: where freedom of expression is protected; where differences in others’ ideas, values, and experiences are respected; and where civility is positively affirmed.

And remember, within our democracy comes a responsibility to the rule of law, a responsibility to one another, and a responsibility to civil discourse. We cannot be a country that upholds those ideals without each of us taking that responsibility in hand.

Reflect and discuss what has taken place, but do so with respect. Honor those who do not look or think like you. Use your critical thinking skills to discern fact from fallacy. Deliberate misinformation left unchallenged is harmful to democracy and our community.

Many of you have been affected by this travesty. As such, I would like to remind you that we offer resources in our Health and Wellness Centers on the Johnson Campus at 802.635.1265 and on the Lyndon Campus at 802.626.6440.

I hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend. Stay safe. Stay healthy.