Friends and Colleagues,
The meeting schedule for the Western Colorado University Board of Trustees is set over a year in advance and thus, that schedule, as well as certain Colorado statutory requirements, make our responses to important issues much slower than we would wish. We thank you all for your thoughts and ideas and, most of all, your patience.
Below is a statement from the Board about the events that took place at the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021 and the Campus and community response.
Christian Blees, Chair of the Board
One Western, Many Voices
On January 6, 2021, our Nation weathered an unprecedented attack on one of our most sacrosanct democratic principles – the peaceful transition of power – when the United States Capitol was violently breached by people seeking to interrupt Congress from its constitutionally required counting of electoral votes.
Our Country has not witnessed such an assault in more than 200 years. We all watched the events unfold, as One Nation. The loss of life during and after the breach of the Capitol was tragic. The response by the brave members of law enforcement, including the U.S. Capitol Police, Metropolitan Police of DC, and the National Guard, who acted to quell the violence was commendable. Our democratic institutions held and they endured. Now, as our Nation and the courts seek justice, we must find a way to help our democratic institutions thrive and help all Americans heal. As an institution of higher learning, Western has a role to play in that healing and to do so we must look to our shared values.
In his statement on January 7, 2021, University President Greg Salsbury condemned the violence at the United States Capitol and denounced it as a ‘despicable’ affront to our democracy and an interruption of the peaceful transfer of power. The President also affirmed Western’s support for free expression, including peaceful protest, as codified in our Free Expression Policy.
In another statement, Western’s Executive Cabinet, on January 8, denounced the attempted insurrection and expressed our collective outrage against the erosion of democratic ideals. The Cabinet affirmed Western’s support for diversity, equity, and inclusivity, regardless of race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, orientation, religious preference, or political affiliation, as codified in our DEII Statement, and through the vital work of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and Internationalization Committee.
Western’s esteemed faculty, staff, and students have added their important voices to deplore the horrific events of January 6, 2021. In myriad ways, over the past several weeks – including through correspondence to the Board of Trustees – the faculty, staff, students, and Western community members have further affirmed and called for discourse about Western’s values. Most recently, the Student Government Association called for improved communications with students and increased commitment to Shared Governance.
The Board of Trustees of Western Colorado University now adds its voice to fully and unreservedly denounce the attempted insurrection against our Federal government. The Board of Trustees condemn all violence in the strongest terms. We do not equate peaceful racial justice protests with the attempted insurrection.
Like the Executive Cabinet we are outraged at the disconnect between our democratic republic’s highest ideals and the events of January 6. And like our honorable and engaged faculty, staff, and students we look to our shared principles to lead us through this moment as “One Western, Many Voices.” We thank those who have shared their view with the Board of Trustees. We encourage the Campus to participate in constructive conversations, with open minds, civility, and respect, around discernment of Western’s core values, strengthening of Shared Governance, and other actions to live true to our values including improved communications. We ultimately seek healing, for our Campus, our State, and our Nation.
Author Credit: Western Board of Trustees
Photo Credit: Jake Burchmore