Dear Brown Community,

Tonight many of us, along with our families, are watching the events unfolding in our nation's capital with shock, uncertainty, anger, fear and profound sorrow. We are deeply concerned for the safety of everyone affected, and are considering how these events will affect the nation as a whole, and us as a community and as individuals.

The violence and riots in Washington, D.C., aimed at unlawfully blocking the certification of the election results, are abhorrent. Although I am confident these efforts won’t be successful, they are a reminder that democracy is precious but fragile. We may take it for granted, but we shouldn’t.   

We had conversations at Brown throughout the fall about the importance of civic engagement. I was so proud of our many students and employees who worked tirelessly to give members of our community the tools they needed to vote, even in the exceptional circumstances of a pandemic. But tonight, we’re reminded that supporting democracy goes well beyond voting, and requires constant vigilance. Today’s tragic events underscore why the work we do every day as a community of learners and educators is so important — to build understanding, address society’s challenges, advance knowledge, promote equality and justice, and uphold what we believe is right.

During the spring semester, we’ll have many opportunities to discuss these events and consider how to move this country to a better place. Until then, I hope that all of you — and in particular those of you who are currently in Washington, D.C.— are safe and well. Please take advantage of the counseling, advising and other resources at the University if you need support. 

We can’t know what will happen tonight or in the coming days, but now more than ever, we should consider the importance of the commitment we make to find ways to improve our communities, the countries we call home, and the world. 


Christina H. Paxson