The Presidential Election

November 10, 2016

President Drinan

A message from President Helen Drinan.

I write after a day filled with emotion of virtually every kind expressed here on campus and all over the country. There are few words that I can find at the moment to respond to the poignant concerns posed by so many. In my lifetime, I have never witnessed protests on the occasion of the election of our president. As an academic community, it is imperative that we hear and respect voices and opinions across the political spectrum. Now more than ever, we must stand for the mission and values that animate us at Simmons, and more than ever, take them outside our virtual walls to our communities.

Our daughter Cara, who teaches the law of the United States and researches our criminal justice system, woke yesterday to her sons asking two questions: if we are taught at school that we cannot bully each other, why can the new president of the United States? And will my Muslim friend have to leave the country? She worked hard to respond in a way that was truthful, realistic, and gave the boys reason to see how they could hold onto their values when they do not see them modeled by leadership, and how they can act in ways that show their respect for the inherent dignity of every person.

I so related to her conversation with my grandsons because we had many such questions, surely more sophisticated and complicated, posed at the open forum we held yesterday at 3:00 p.m. My first concern during that hour was that we allow for the range of perspectives in the room, and I think that was accomplished. Further, I pondered the role of leaders when the community is operating under such new, and for many, unthinkable circumstances. I came to see that what consistently emerged were needs for hope and empowerment. We all must recognize that we have never been powerless people, and we have many ways to take our power into the world.

The United States has withstood many serious crises over our relatively short history, and those of us of a certain age know that it is through challenge that we grow most. As Hillary Clinton said in her gracious concession speech, life presents us with both successes and setbacks. We must accept that truth and take advantage of it. How can we capitalize on what may emerge as setbacks and make them opportunities to stand up for ourselves and to succeed?

Over the coming weeks, we will find opportunities to engage the community in continued conversation about how we can move forward in the civil and productive ways we have shown in the past. This is a sustained conversation we can and must have.

While all of this national news was captivating our community, Simmons leadership, including Faculty Senate, Staff Council, and the Operating Team, served lunch and dinner in the Kotzen Room to as many of our dining, maintenance, and cleaning staff that chose to come. It was an opportunity to say thank you for the many things that these colleagues accomplish in continuous and often unnoticed ways. Gratitude was mutual, and filled the room. It was a blessing that these simple gatherings occurred on an otherwise complicated day.

Tomorrow is Veterans Day, and the College will be closed so that we may all participate as we wish in honoring those who have served our country in the military. Please also take some time during this long weekend for the self-care advocated yesterday so genuinely by one of our thoughtful Simmons students.

We carry on.