Dear Members of the Mason Gross Community,
I want to take a moment to address the violent insurrection that occurred yesterday in Washington. I offer these remarks not from a partisan perspective or in an effort to shape political views, but rather in light of what I believe to be our moral obligation to uphold the ideals and principles upon which our country was founded. The horrifying events that we witnessed at the Capitol struck at the heart of our republic and threatened our very existence as a democratic nation of laws. This mayhem offered a sobering reminder of the fragility of our 244-year-old democracy and of the need to protect it with ever-increasing vigilance. We were also reminded, with deadly consequences, that words matter—that the truth matters, and that these two elements are as fundamental to the bedrock of our republic as are the ideals of liberty and equality.
Universities, by their very nature, are dedicated to the pursuit of truth, and as I watched yesterday’s events unfold, I could not help but think about the role that we play as artists and scholars in carrying out this sacrosanct mission. As a touchstone of humanity, the arts are uniquely positioned to reflect our collective character and to help heal the divisions that have been sown by distortions of the truth. By holding a mirror up to society, the arts not only uncover the impulses that fuel our basest instincts but also channel the emotion and depth of feeling that strengthen our bonds as human beings and that hold the potential to unite us toward a common purpose. As we reject violence and falsehood while affirming the values of civility, tolerance, and honest debate, let us also redouble our efforts to consider how, as individual artists and scholars and also as a school of the arts, we can engage with the world around us in ways that inspire understanding, empathy, and action in service of the common good. And let us do so secure in the conviction that the arts are a vital ingredient in our nation’s ongoing quest to form a more perfect union.
Dean, Mason Gross School of the Arts