Dartmouth president makes a plea for national unity.
In an email message to students, faculty, and staff, President Philip J. Hanlon '77 condemned the violence that erupted at the U.S. Capitol today and made a plea for national unity.
"This unprecedented and reprehensible attack on the peaceful transfer of power undermines the foundation of our government and the verified results of our federal election," he wrote. "I believe—and I hope more than ever—that it is a reverence for the sanctity of our democratic process that unites us, not the results of any one election that divide us. Now is the time we must come together in the best interest of the nation."
On the day U.S. Congress members had begun to count the electoral votes to confirm Joe Biden as the next president, President Hanlon said he "watched with shock and sadness as lawlessness consumed the U.S. Capitol on what should have been a day of great symbolic importance for American democracy.
"As president of Dartmouth, I condemn the violent disruption of the democratic process," he said.
Hanlon's remarks followed the postponement of the scheduled Community Conversations webcast with Provost Joseph Helble, which was to begin at 3:30 p.m. with scheduled guests epidemiologist Lisa Adams, co-chair of the COVID-19 task force and an associate professor of medicine at the Geisel School of Medicine; Caitlin Barthelmes, director of Dartmouth's Student Wellness Center; and Eric Ramsey, associate dean for undergraduate student life.
The webcast will be rescheduled, perhaps taking place as soon as Thursday or Friday. When the new date is available, it will be posted on the Community Conversations website and on the Dartmouth events calendar.
In brief live remarks at what was to be the start of the webcast, Helble canceled Community Conversations as protesters were storming the Capitol building. "The scenes of chaos and even violence in the national Capitol have become so stunning that we feel that it is right to pause," he said.
But, on the day before tomorrow's start of winter-term classes for undergraduates and some graduate students, both Hanlon and Helble said that the unrest in Washington, D.C., gives particular urgency to Dartmouth's mission.
"Our work here has, in fact, never been more important to our students and to the country," said Helble.
Said Hanlon, "As the Dartmouth community begins another academic term, we are reminded of the importance of vigorous debate, the respectful exchange of ideas, and the elevation of facts and data. These are the tasks of institutions of higher learning and they will be essential for moving our country forward together.
Susan J. Boutwell can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.