Statement on Recent National Events

Dear Members of the Bates Community:

Yesterday’s assault on our nation’s Capitol was both predictable and profoundly shocking. With the president urging them on, armed mobs invaded the literal seat of our democracy in order to disrupt the certification of a presidential election and impede the peaceful transfer of power.

Over the past four years, we have lived in a world where truth is disregarded, where race has been used in insidious ways to animate the worst impulses in our politics and civic life, where those who commit brutality and violence are not held to account, and where division is stoked without regard for the public good. 

Despite these realities, voters have affirmed our democracy by stepping forward in record numbers to make their voices heard and their choices known. Likewise, last night we saw elected leaders return after the attack to the business of certifying the election results. But, as Maine’s own Senator, Angus King, reminded us from the Senate floor, “Democracy, as we have practiced it, is fragile.” 

It is up to us to absorb and learn from the ugly truths laid bare, once again, by yesterday’s events. The American system of higher education rests, like our democracy, on a commitment to truth, to evidence, and to a culture of persuasion rather than violence. We are not just part of this democracy, we depend on it. And we need to defend it every day—with words, with action, and with a commitment to working through our own imperfections to enact the ideals of equity and justice grounded in our mission and in our humanity. 


Clayton Spencer