President Struppa Reaffirms Chapman’s Commitment to Democracy

The following is a statement President Daniele Struppa sent to the Chapman University community on Friday, Jan. 8.

On Wednesday, we all watched as fellow Americans acted as domestic terrorists and attacked the United States Capitol Building. Beyond the incomprehensible assault on our democracy, this outrageous act resulted in the loss of five lives and injured many more. In the aftermath of that horrific day, the nation now turns its attention to what led to these terrorist acts and the response to those actions, as does our own Chapman community.

As this national crisis continues to unfold, it is a critical time for us to come together, support each other, and to reaffirm our own values as individuals and as an institution. As an academic community we are rooted in freedom of expression and the free exchange of ideas; however, we condemn those that incite violence, those who attempt to justify it under the veneer of political discourse, and those who ultimately carry out that violence. This week, John Eastman, a member of the Chapman faculty, played a role in the tragic events in Washington, D.C., that jeopardized our democracy. 

Eastman’s actions are in direct opposition to the values and beliefs of our institution. He has now put Chapman in the position of being publicly disparaged for the actions of a single faculty member, and for what many call my failure to punish and fire him. If it’s determined laws were broken, we will take appropriate action; but based on what we know now, we will abide by the policies in our Faculty Manual which clearly state what actions are protected. I will not subject the university to further humiliation by taking steps that may cause us to violate our own set of policies, and ultimately lead us to further embarrassment.

The events of these last few days have demonstrated once again how fragile our democracy can be and how vigilant we all need to be as we defend it and nurture it. Those responsible for the attack on the most sacred symbols of that democracy must be held responsible and we expect justice to be done.

While we grieve for the lives lost and those injured, we also grieve the damage that the events of these last two months have done to civil discourse. Within that, we should also find reason to celebrate the fact that despite the attacks of Wednesday, Congress has completed its duty and certified the elections, thus opening the way for the peaceful transfer of power that our society needs. Ultimately, we affirmed that democracy is stronger than those that try to attack it. Elections were held, their results were challenged in court, the courts have spoken, Congress has acted, and a new president will be inaugurated in a few days.

This week has also demonstrated that this country has a great deal of work to do for social justice and equity. I want to invite you to get involved in our work to advance diversity, equity and inclusion and engage in dialogue through the new “Our Voices” project as we work together to move Chapman forward. We have the ability to make real change in this country, but it must start on our own campus.

While the global pandemic continues to devastate this nation as we simultaneously move through this tumultuous time in our nation’s history, I want to remind you of the many resources available to you as a member of the Chapman Family. I encourage you to stay mindful of your mental health, physical health, social health and, if appropriate for you, your spiritual health. Please stay connected through Chapman resources

Through this difficult time, remember that you are a part of the Chapman Family and you have a support system around you. 

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