Dear Barnard Community,

What happened at our nation’s Capitol this afternoon is horrific, shameful and—regardless of one’s political affiliation—contrary to America’s most important ideals. These include the power of our democracy and the constitution that established it and the peaceful transition of power. Today has done serious harm to these sacred ideals.

I write tonight not only to condemn the rioters’ shocking and unconscionable behavior in the strongest possible terms but also to acknowledge a stark contrast between the events of today and the manner in which so many peaceful protestors were treated last summer during marches around the country for racial justice and equality. This difference highlights the hard work that still needs to be done in our country.

As difficult as today has been to watch, it is important to remember that there are still so many reasons to be hopeful. Most importantly, our country has declared that it is time for a new direction, one that values science and data, and a rigorous engagement with divergent viewpoints that rises above speculation and conspiracy theories. At Barnard, we embrace this focus on empirical data and the advancement of knowledge, and we must rededicate ourselves to teaching the next generation how to use the power of ideas for the good of all.

As hard as it may seem, I encourage you to harness both the raw emotion and lessons of today into constructive actions that help to promote democracy and equality. I continue to be awed and inspired by the strength and vision of the Barnard community. We are helping the next generation of students create just and positive transformations in societies around the world. I can’t imagine a more important responsibility at a more critical point in our history.

Sian Leah Beilock, President