Another Presidential election is over and many of you are likely feeling raw and vulnerable. Whatever your politics, we see a country that is fractured, in which the political discourse has turned from negative, to vitriolic, where civic discourse is not valued, where intellectualism seems to be distrusted and disdained, and where reason often gives way to fear, anxiety and emotion. Many of you volunteered for campaign work, or you worked, as I did, as a voter protection advocate. You canvassed neighborhoods to get out the vote, and you fought for social and economic justice. I thank you for all your efforts on behalf of democracy.
But, like me, many of you went to bed early this morning feeling that you did not know your country. You may feel disgust, anger, grief, and despair. In fact, many of you may feel this campaign has been a personal attack on you, a threat to the safety and security of your family and friends based upon your religion, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or identity. Some of you may feel that the election has been a betrayal of our values as a nation and a people. We may feel demagoguery has won, that hate and fear have won.
But, America is bigger than one election cycle, and democracy is stronger than any single candidate or President. On behalf of the entire ULC, I encourage you all to continue to work for social, economic and environmental justice, to engage in civic debate on issues, to support local and state efforts to elect effective leaders, to work on voter registration initiatives, and to join efforts to move this country forward. As Secretary Clinton remarked in her concession speech, democracy isn’t something that happens every four years. It’s an ongoing and noble struggle and our duty as citizens. For those of you who are feeling despair, let that despair tum to resolve and fire. Let it strengthen your convictions.
In the short run, many of you may be looking for ways to process your feelings and emotions. The ULC has addressed that issue this morning and is collectively developing a list of resources and forums for this purpose which we will distribute shortly. The provosts will work with their faculty, staff, and students to develop a post-election dialogue on their campuses or within their programs. I encourage each of you, regardless of your political affiliation, to participate in those forums. In the meantime, embrace your feelings today, be good to each other, and do something good for yourselves. You deserve it!
Finally, I would like us to remember that Antioch University is an institution whose progressive values have been the catalyst of change in this country since 1852. We will continue to be that force. Our impact on effecting social, economic, and environmental justice in this country, and the world, is more important than ever. Our Antiochian values must, and will, continue to strengthen America.
William R. Groves