A Statement on Democracy from President Marion Terenzio
As I stand in solidarity with Chancellor Malatras, Commissioner Tisch, and Vice Chairman Perales as a leader of an educational community, I too call upon the power of education to provide a pathway back to upholding and valuing our democratic ethos.
The assault on our nation’s capital should serve as a wakeup call that our democracy must be repaired. We have failed to safeguard its processes and its ideals of dignity and honor. When partisanship at all levels of society becomes the preferred sentiment and method of engagement, there is no room for all citizens to feel safe or believe they will be treated equally. When social order has been skewed in a manner that allows some to enjoy more freedom over others, we have abandoned our civic responsibility. The events of January 6 show just how much we have failed in that duty.
We must not accept that dangerous rhetoric and social media snippets that foment feelings of contempt for others can displace engaged and lengthy discourse and the exchange of ideas. We must not allow mob-mentality and behavior to replace the peaceful voicing of discontent in the face of injustice. We must become proactive in our democratic work and stop allowing complicity to be the voice of our Republic.
Action through education will help provide an antidote for our ailing democracy. Education leaders have an obligation to instill in our next generation of citizens and leaders the power of knowledge acquisition filtered through the process of critical thinking to quell ignorance. Through our teaching, we are called to uphold dignified discourse to find truth and to acknowledge that the understanding and acceptance of diverse points of view and cultures are the essence of a thriving democracy.
For those of us who support our educational mission and that of SUNY, I encourage you to join me in the stewardship of our democratic processes. I invite you to be courageous, to use your education, to actively reject complicity through your actions, and to use the tools of democracy to make change. Our defense of democracy starts with us as individuals. We bring it to life through the dignified and honorable practice of its ideals.