Good morning to everyone in the Clarke University community.
Regardless of whether you woke up this morning with a heavy heart or a sense of relief as a result of yesterday’s elections, I call upon all of us today and in the weeks ahead to treat one another with the dignity and respect our mission and core values demand of us. Our campus, like our nation, holds very divergent views about what is the common good and who gets to enjoy it. We will only add to the turmoil if we choose to dehumanize those who disagree with us by making unfair generalizations and blanket judgments about intentions and beliefs. Labeling them will not move us any closer to the inclusive, just and caring community and nation we seek.
Clarke University is a community that values higher learning and seeks to promote freedom, charity and justice on our campus and beyond. This means we look past the surface and seek a deeper understanding of complex situations. Please remember that many citizens voted against a candidate, not for the candidate who received their vote and all he or she said during the campaign. Conversations in our classrooms, offices, in the halls and around our dining tables will certainly include grief and relief and may make us uncomfortable but we must remember that our conversation partners are children of God and deserving of our respect and care. It is imperative that we listen to understand and speak to promote inclusion and clarity.
Clarke University is a community that values the common good and seeks to provide access to it for all people. This is not a pious platitude but a demanding aspiration. The common good does not mean everyone gets what they want or that it is a simple calculation of the greatest good for the most people. We seek the good for one another in a landscape of competing goods, limited resources and conflicting needs. This is very hard work and we must take up the challenge with greater effort and energy in times of darkness and confusion.
As a Catholic university, Clarke will not step away from its many efforts to heighten our awareness of the individuals and groups who are exclude and marginalized in so many ways and to take action for their protection and inclusion. Today, I call on us as a community to step up our efforts to promote understanding and inclusion and to reach out to those among us who are feeling further disenfranchised, fearful and confused as a result of the election.
The meaning of this election remains to be seen and will be greatly shaped by how we, the people respond to it. I confess to a very heavy heart this morning but I will not throw my hands up in the air, give in to despair or speak in hurtful ways. We have work to do to bring our campus, community and country together for all its members.
I call our community to prayer and reflection, careful inquiry and respectful conversation and peaceful and nonviolent action in pursuit of the common good we all seek.
Joanne M. Burrows, SC, PhDPresidentClarke University