A Message from President Kim About the Election
November 14, 2016
The conclusion last week of this year’s long, rancorous and ugly presidential campaign has forced us to see the reality that bigotry and fear of the “other” are very much part of life in America and that we are a country deeply divided. For approximately half of those who chose to exercise their constitutional right to vote, the results of this election are a harbinger of better times ahead. For the other half, they represent a frightening step backwards.
For the past eighteen months, we have listened to words of hate targeting and mocking people based on their race and ethnicity, gender, country of origin, religious beliefs, citizenship status, sexual orientation, and their physical and mental disabilities. And we have seen the power of those words work crowds into a frenzy and sometimes trigger acts of violence. Having known the shame, the fear, the rage, and the sense of helplessness that come from being a target of racism and bigotry throughout my life, I understand why many are feeling afraid and angry right now.
Still, I necessarily choose to be hopeful…to believe that the awesome authority of the office, as well as the inherent checks and balances which were put into place at the time our country was founded, will serve as moderating influences on our new president. There are many public servants who are deeply committed to the human rights which are a cornerstone of this country. As we move into the next administration, we must pay attention and be prepared both to recognize progress and speak up in protest when necessary.
But in the end, my fundamental responsibility is for our college and the well-being of our community.
This is a moment when we, the Columbia College Chicago community, must return to our core values and principles.
Let me be clear.
We will protect our students, their rights, and their well-being. This is our common moral obligation.
We will not tolerate expressions or acts of racism, misogyny, homophobia or any other form of hatred. We will not accept discrimination against any group or individual within our community nor will we permit expressions of intolerance of differing views or beliefs. If we see such things, we must call them out.
Creative making, doing, and thinking are how we produce new knowledge and how we expand and enrich the human experience. We must not be distracted from our purpose of helping our students develop their most authentic voices and teaching them the skills to make those voices fully manifest in the world.
I remind us all that our mission is to prepare our students “to become authors of the culture of their times.” The events we are facing brilliantly illuminate the power of those words. Has it ever been more urgent for creative young people to enter the world equipped with a sense of agency about their lives and a determination to invent a subtler, more meaningful and more humane future?
I am confident that we can pull together as a community to support one another during these fraught times and that we will not be deterred from our work of making our college better and stronger. As we continue on that path, I ask that we each take special care to treat one another with respect, that we take time to listen carefully to one another, that we seek to understand multiple perspectives, and that above all else, we work every day to lift each other up with the gentlest and most caring of hands.
Kwang-Wu Kim, President