Dear Trinity students, colleagues and friends,
We start today in a new political reality. A majority of Americans have chosen Donald J. Trump to be the next president. The beauty of the American political process is that the people have the power to choose their government, and our tacit agreement as a society is that regardless of our personal choices, every four years we come together as a unified nation to move forward to achieve the best possible goals for all the people regardless of political persuasion. It’s incumbent on all of us today and going forward to work for unity and peace in our country where so many factions and fault lines pose a real danger to our long-term interests. See my blog on what happens on November 9 and all the days thereafter… I wrote that last Saturday, before the election, and it’s still the message.
By the way, now sounding like the elder I’m fast becoming, I’ve lived long enough to know that the cycles of political history are quite inexorable — I was born into the Eisenhower Administration, grew up through Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon and Carter, worked my professional life through Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, Bush II and Obama. If you look at the parties of those presidents, you will see a clear pattern: rarely does either party hold the presidency for more than two terms, and most often the pendulum of history swings back and forth somewhat relentlessly between Democratic and Republican holds on the White House. Sometimes it helps to understand a given moment by looking at the history and life cycle of movements — isn’t that part of what we learn here at Trinity? However you feel today, you will have a chance to work for a different result in 2020, 2024 and all the quadrennial elections thereafter.
While expressing a desire for unity as a manifestation of responsible citizenship, I also know that the election of Donald Trump poses some real concerns among members of the Trinity family who have spoken loud and clear through a series of straw polls and comments, as well as in active engagement in campaigning and commentary on your own blogs and social media.
Let me take this moment to remind all of us of the common values we share here at Trinity, and the commitment that I, as your college president, owe to each of you to continue working to ensure our values.
Trinity was founded by courageous religious women whose strong belief in the worth and dignity of women led them to create a great college as a manifestation of the SND mission in social justice. Nearly 120 years later, Trinity still stands for the dignity and worth of women, and we still promote the education and advancement of women’s leadership as our primary goal. We denounce any rhetoric or action or policy that denigrates women. We have welcomed men into our mission as well in our graduate and professional programs, and in so doing we make a clear statement that Trinity stands for equality and dignity of all people.
We affirm each day the driving force of social justice as the value imperative that animates our work. We learned that value from the Sisters of Notre Dame, a value rooted deeply in the Gospels and the Catholic faith tradition, a value shared across many faith traditions.
Respect for human dignity and defense of human life are the bedrock of social justice, and we affirm those values in the way we welcome students and colleagues of all races and faiths — our Trinity community welcomes everyone, white and black, African American and Latina and Asian and multi-racial. We welcome you if you have immigrated from another nation recently or through your family history. You are welcome and cherished here with whatever racial and ethnic identity and nationality and citizenship you embrace. We abhor racism and nationalism and oppression of people based on their personal characteristics, countries of origin, languages and customs.
In the same way, we welcome and cherish you if you are Catholic or Christian or Muslim or Methodist or Hindu or Lutheran or profess any other faith or no faith at all — religious bigotry has no place at Trinity. We stand against any targeting of individuals based on their religious beliefs, that is an offense to our national values and our moral beliefs.
We welcome you if you are gay or straight, lesbian or transgender, and we respect your right to choose how you will live in dignity and security. We do not tolerate discrimination or hatred against individuals based on who they love or how they choose to build families.
I am particularly mindful today of our Dreamers, some of the most remarkable and ambitious and accomplished students here, women whose contributions to their families, communities and society are already great and will grow with the years. You have my pledge that I will continue to do all that I can to make sure that you are safe and supported here at Trinity, and to keep working for policy change to support the realities of your families.
We will continue to do all that we can to make sure that Trinity is a place where everyone can thrive, where you are safe to be who you are, where you can engage the struggles and triumphs of great teaching and learning without fear and with as much support as we can give. Our goal is to make you powerful citizens of the world, armed with the best possible knowledge and skills to exert leadership in all of the communities and workplaces you will influence for decades to come. This election shows that we have a lot of work to do when it comes to advancing education in this nation. I remain firmly convinced, perhaps more so this morning, that in the end a great education is the most essential tool we have to create lasting change for good, for justice and peace to prevail. Let’s use the power of our education to work through this moment, to find the path forward to a better society for all people, including and especially those whose vote was a statement about feeling left out, angry and marginalized by a government that did not serve their needs as well as it should have.
Today and in the days to come, we’ll have plenty of time to analyze and discuss the specific implications of the election. For now, let us come together united in our pledge to work for unity and peace, to pray for our country and our leaders. May the wisdom — especially the wisdom — of the Trinity be with them.
With hope in the future together,
President Patricia McGuire