Davidson students, faculty, and staff gathered on November 10 in the atrium of the Alvarez College Union to hear from President Carol Quillen, Chaplain Rob Spach and student speakers in a show of post-election unity and a reaffirmation of the college's commitment to its founding values.
Why are we here?
We come together in the wake of a particularly contentious, divisive, and vitriolic campaign. During this campaign, our community grew accustomed to words that highlight divisions along the lines of race, religion, gender, nationality, and socio-economic status. Policy discussions on all sides quickly morphed into personal attacks. We hid our fear with anger. We masked our own vulnerability by lashing out at others.
The campaign was a mirror that revealed the deep, deep veins of fear, arrogance, resentment and bigotry that run through each of us and through our body politic.
That campaign is over. The electorate has spoken and we have a president-elect. The country will move forward. But make no mistake. We are fractured, as an electorate, as a campus and as a people. We know this. We cannot feign ignorance or go back in time.
In that light, I turn to our community's grounding and to our statement of purpose. Davidson College recognizes the dignity and worth of all persons. Our loyalty extends to the whole of humanity. We value diversity of every kind. We dedicate ourselves to the quest for truth.
Most importantly at this time of division and vitriol, we at Davidson cultivate humane instincts. Compassion. Empathy. Humility. Courage. Qualities that help you stand in discomfort. Qualities that help you to honor the vulnerability of others because you are comfortable with your own.
Today, together, we affirm these founding values.
And I invite each of you to consider what, at this moment, you can do to rebuild our fractured community. What are you now being called to do, here at Davidson and in the world?
I am coming to understand what this means for me, a person of considerable privilege, a white woman who supported a candidate who lost.
It means vigilant, engaged citizenship.
It means seeking genuinely to understand why those who supported Mr. Trump did so, so that together we can see a shared future.
It means standing strong with those who are literally at risk, given the language of the campaign, in particular immigrants, Muslims and refugees.
These are my urgent tasks at this important time. I don't know what each of you is being called to do now, but I urge you to discover it and heed it.
And let us all, here today, reaffirm together our commitment to the founding values of Davidson College. Let us nurture humane instincts. Let us affirm, together, our willingness to stand, in discomfort and with love, in the tragic gap between the world that is and the world that could be.