We elected a new president this week. He will be sworn into office as the 45th President of the United States of America in a short two months. And like the conclusion of every campaign in the past, some are celebrating while others feel disappointed or hurt. Although not the most contentious campaign in our country’s history, this one has been filled with exceptionally divisive and demeaning rhetoric. It is completely understandable that many feel worried and fearful about our future.
Few people could be more disappointed in the outcome of this election than President Obama. Yet, he immediately reached out to President-Elect Donald Trump and pledged his support in transitioning power to him. Speaking from the White House on the day after the election, President Obama said, “we are now all rooting for [Trump’s] success in uniting and leading the country. The peaceful transition of power is one of the hallmarks of our democracy.” Wow. What a gracious and important statement.
I cannot do better than President Obama in offering this advice to our students (and faculty, staff, and alumni) who may be disappointed by the election results, “ . . . you have to stay encouraged. Don’t get cynical, don’t ever think you can’t make a difference . . . the path that this country has taken has never been a straight line. We zig and zag and sometimes we move in ways that some people think is forward and others think is moving back, and that’s OK.” President Obama added, “The point is that we all go forward with a presumption of good faith in our fellow citizens, because that presumption of good faith is essential to a vibrant and functioning democracy. That’s how this country has moved foreword for 240 years. It’s how we’ve pushed the boundaries and promoted freedom around the world. That’s how we’ve expanded the rights of our founding to reach all of our citizens. It’s how we have come this far.”
We have a special opportunity at Southern Utah University to assist in moving forward the cause of freedom and expansion of rights at home and around the world through the transformative educational experiences we provide. Education is the singularly most essential ingredient to the success of good government and the progress of humankind. Remember that education is not merely intelligence. As Dr. Martin Luther King said, “intelligence plus character—that is the goal of a true education.”
Our university Care And Support Team released a statement Wednesday that describes us well: “The SUU community is wonderfully diverse and filled with students from around the world, from various religious backgrounds, from different ethnic and racial identities, and with different gender identities and sexual orientations. We feel that this diversity is what makes an education at SUU one of the best. SUU is committed to supporting all students and community members of all backgrounds.” I completely agree with this statement.
Let us never be guilty of demeaning conversation, intimidation, or acts of violence against those who hold opinions contrary to our own—regarding the outcome of this election or any other matter. Our university must be a safe and supportive place. And let us forever be known as a great learning community where all are valued and welcome.
Learn more about President Wyatt here.