You are here: American University President Announcements January 7, 2021

AU Memo Letterhead

Dear AU Community,

We are all still processing yesterday’s reprehensible events at the US Capitol. Like many of you, I have walked those halls and marveled at the enduring pillars of our democracy. I proudly served alongside many of the people who were under siege yesterday while working to preserve and advance our nation. I am shaken and I am angry. What we witnessed at the Capitol was the culmination of the many challenging times we have endured in recent years, making the pain of this moment deeper and more damaging. 

Yesterday was the greatest domestic assault on our democracy and the values we hold dear since the Civil War. The president of the United States incited and defended these horrific actions, placing our nation in great peril. We condemn the rioters and the disregard for truth that contributed to yesterday’s violence. We stand united in support of our democracy and those defending it.

It was also an ugly and unmistakable reflection of the systemic racism that plagues our society and deeply harms people of color every single day. Predominantly white rioters stormed the US Capitol and met far less resistance and aggression than we have seen in peaceful protests by people of color. The effect of these events on communities of color and the ongoing dramatic burden of systemic racism must be confronted alongside the undermining of our democracy. 

The events at the Capitol were the antithesis of our AU community’s values of dignity, justice, inclusion, and truth. While we reckon with the challenges of this moment, we will continue to act in pursuit of those values. That includes the antiracism work fundamental to our university, and the overall pursuit of knowledge, truth, community, and progress that is central to our mission and critical to further our democracy.

This situation still presents danger and instability in our city and in our nation. As these events continue to unfold, we are taking steps to protect the safety of the AU community. That includes not only physical safety, but the care that is so important as we support each other in difficult times. There are resources available for our community, including the AU Counseling Center for students, the Kay Spiritual Life Center, and the FSAP and BHS mental health service for faculty and staff. If you need assistance, I hope you will make use of these services. Our leadership is reaching out to our teams. Our staff and faculty are reaching out to our students. These conversations are an important part of progress.

While there is limited activity on campus at this time, many thousands of students, faculty, staff, and alumni live in the Washington, DC area. We will continue to provide safety information and encourage them to take appropriate precautions. Though most of our team is working remotely in response to the pandemic, there are some staff with on-campus presence, and we are supporting these team members to ensure their safety and make alternative work arrangements as needed. We are taking the appropriate steps for the security of campus and our off-site locations. Additionally, you can download the AU Rave Guardian Safety app for connectivity to security services while you are on campus or traveling in the city and ALERTDC for emergency information from the DC government.

We will continue to monitor events and adjust our security precautions as necessary, and we are focused on risks that may arise around the presidential inauguration. We will provide additional updates as events unfold.

As we each reconcile our own feelings about yesterday and think about what it means for the future of our nation, our charge as Americans and as American University Eagles is to address the systemic challenges on display and to care for each other. Our nation’s future depends on the ability of our community and communities everywhere to confront these challenges with purpose, honesty, and action. 

Be safe and be well.