Reflecting Forward

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

I write today to recognize that, for many at Columbia, the aftermath of this election feels different from most.  Ordinarily, elections bring elation to some and not others, reflecting the plurality of political views in our community.  This time around, for some in our community, shock, distress and fear are among the feelings that reverberate.  

As with any election, the candidates this year disagreed on the usual array of policy issues, such as government spending and trade tariffs.  But there were also running commentary and policy proposals by now-President-elect Trump, widely acknowledged as unprecedented in a modern national campaign, that challenged the dignity and basic rights of many, including in our own community.

In this post-election moment, there are profound questions about whether some of the campaign rhetoric will now become the law and policy of the land and about what this might mean for the culture of this nation and for our relationships around the world.  There will be many opportunities to study this election and explore its meaning for the short and long term.

Whatever your views, whether you supported any or none of the candidates, this is a time – both right now and in the days and months ahead –  to pause and affirm our shared commitment to learning and discovery, to our diversity as a strength, and to inclusive community as a core Columbia value.  

Keep in mind, too, that universities have a distinct and important role, and Columbia students, as well as faculty and staff, have unique opportunities to bring extraordinary talents to the community here and to the world at large. These opportunities also open the way for our learning from each other and bringing new ideas and critical insight for the future to our own conversations and to ongoing public debate.

(Post-publication update: The Office of University Life hosted informal conversation and reflection Nov. 9 from 5 to 7 pm in Lerner 555.)  Please also consider joining for Wednesday’s Awakening Our Democracy:  Feminism, Media and the State of the Union. Watch the livestream at noon Nov. 16 here.  As other gatherings are organized, University Life will share them with the community through our social media and on our website.

As a reminder, counselors are available on the MorningsideMedical Center and Barnard campuses for students, as are interfaith advisers through the Office of the University Chaplain. Please do not hesitate to reach out for discussion and support.

- Suzanne Goldberg

Executive Vice President for University Life

Herbert and Doris Wechsler Clinical Professor of Law

You can also read this in the Spectator.