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Statement in Response to January 6 Violence in Washington, D.C.

A message from President Suzanne Rivera

Dear Macalester Community:

Like many of you, I watched in horror this afternoon as our federal government was attacked.  It was a frightening spectacle the likes of which I never imagined we would see in the U.S. Despite the many ways our country sometimes falls short of its ideals, until today I believed that the tradition of a peaceful transfer of power was a reliable feature of our democracy.

I have said publicly that peaceful protest is patriotic. That is not what happened today. The images of armed domestic terrorists storming the Capitol, threatening our elected officials as Senators and Representatives from across the political spectrum attempted to certify the election results, were both chilling and shameful.  

In an academic year that has brought us so much fear, loss, and grief, our hearts are broken again. Many of you worked very hard to assure a free and fair election in November. Indeed, we all should be proud of Macalester’s role in promoting voter registration and access to the polls. The violence we witnessed today was an unacceptable assault on our system of legitimate self-governance.  

People of conscience must not stay silent when the very fabric of our society is being unraveled. When something is wrong, we need to say so. What happened today is wrong, it is inconsistent with our values, and it is a threat to our freedom.   

Since arriving at Macalester in June, I have strived to lead us with honesty and with optimism. I can easily share the truth that I don’t know what the next few days will bring and that is deeply upsetting. It is more difficult to muster optimism in this discouraging moment. But I will close this message by expressing hope and gratitude.   

I hope you all are safe. I hope this violence in Washington ends quickly. I hope that our country will swiftly return to the customary procedures for transferring power to a new President and Vice President without further violence. And I am grateful to each one of you, who do so much to support one another through difficult challenges, and who live Mac’s values every day.

January 6, 2021