A Reflection on the State of Our Democracy

A dispatch from Rollins College President Grant Cornwell in light of recent events at the U.S. Capitol.

Photo by Scott Cook Photo by Scott Cook

What we witnessed yesterday was an insurrection against the government of the United States and the norms of democracy that have defined this nation. I cannot let this historic moment pass without comment and query.

As a university, Rollins College does not align with particular political parties or policies; we exist as a forum for rigorous consideration of the full spectrum of ideas, theories, interpretations, and proposals. We vigorously defend the campus and the curriculum as sites for critically analyzing, discussing, and assessing competing ideas as proposed solutions to pressing global problems.

We do, however, align ourselves with certain values implicit in our stated mission of educating students for global citizenship and responsible leadership. In addition, a Rollins education is intended to equip students with the intellectual skills and dispositions to champion democracy, to understand democratic institutions, norms, rules, and values, and to exercise the rights and duties of democratic citizenship.

Hence, I ask you this. As you reflect on the events, the discourse, and the political activism in our nation over the last year, over the period since the election, and over the course of the last two days, where have you seen responsible leadership in action, and its opposite? What lessons in responsible leadership do you draw from our very recent history? How will you apply those lessons to your own path as global citizens and responsible leaders?

These are questions that are core to your Rollins education, and to our shared journey to advance global citizenship and responsible leadership in ourselves, in our nation, and in our world. Together, we can be agents of progress.