Below is a message I sent to my colleagues in the College of Arts & Letters at Michigan State University in the wake of the first turbulent days of 2021.
Dear College of Arts & Letters Staff and Faculty,
We in the College of Arts & Letters have long understood the power of words to strengthen or diminish democracy. Over the past 24 hours, we have witnessed the power of words to incite violent insurrection at the United States Capitol, distort the truth, and undermine a peaceful transition of power. But we have also seen the power of words to organize and mobilize voters in Georgia, to resist cynical strategies of voter suppression, and to persevere in certifying the will of the people.
As we continue to respond to a traumatizing pandemic and reckon with the racism that has long haunted our democracy, I stand with you as we turn our attention to the work of the semester ahead. I encourage you to reach out to us in the Dean’s Office, to one another, or to the MSU Employee Assistance Program for support.
The promise of democracy has always depended upon education. The work you are preparing to do with our students this semester is urgent and important. As you consider how to provide them with the context and nuance they will need to make sense of these tumultuous times, please know how vital your support, teaching, and research are to the promise of democracy.
Christopher P. Long
Dean, College of Arts & Letters