An assault on our Democracy

January 7, 2020

This message was sent to students, faculty and staff at the University of Nevada, Reno.

Dear Wolf Pack Family,

I write to you today still shocked and saddened by the events of Jan. 6, 2021 where a willful and unlawful attempt was made to subvert our democracy in our nation’s Capitol. Although our democracy stood firm and the results of our presidential election were certified by our elected representatives, there is still much to consider and do as we move forward.

We must make it clear to all that unlawful acts against our elected leaders and democratic institutions will never be tolerated. We must respect the Constitution, and not twist its central tenets to fit a particular political ideology, particularly as it relates to the concept of accepting the results of free and fair elections. President Abraham Lincoln once said it best: “We can not have free government without elections; and if the rebellion could force us to forego, or postpone a national election, it might fairly claim to have already conquered and ruined us.”

It is in this spirit of democracy that we will never tolerate what transpired yesterday in Washington, D.C., as our elected leaders gathered to consummate a time-honored electoral tradition that signals to our citizens and the world that we are a nation of laws and that power is always transferred peacefully. The hallways of the buildings that were ransacked yesterday are sacred expressions of who we are. Every footstep one takes in those hallways echo with a solemn purpose that goes far beyond any individual or any political ideology. They are hallways that represent the ideals of the American people and are the foundations of our Constitutional government. The broken glass, the wreckage in the offices, can be cleaned up. Much more important, however, will be coming together as a country and renewing our commitment to democracy and a peaceful transfer of power.

To move toward a better world, we must create a more inclusive society where everyone is valued. Yesterday’s events point to the fact that we must have fair and frank discussion about the concerns expressed by many in our marginalized and underrepresented communities, who have wondered about the response to the assault on our nation’s Capitol. These types of discussions are central to our mission as an institution of higher learning. Discussion that addresses our essential truths, however uncomfortable these discussions may be, help lead to better insight into our democratic processes and to acknowledge that there still exist inequalities and injustice that must change. As a University, we must seek to advance society through respectful discourse and dialogue. Ongoing work by the ASUN Center for Student Engagement, the University’s Gender Race and Identity Program and our Office for Diversity and Inclusion, as well as work by countless students, faculty and staff, brings forth critical issues that must continue to be addressed.

Coupled with the pandemic, this could easily be a moment where we all retreat into isolation. We cannot do this, however. Isolation can breed echo chambers of falsehoods and untruths. Instead, we must seek out ways to safely come together to share what we have seen and how we can peacefully proceed forward. We can find strength and solace in the prospect that better days are still ahead. This can be in the form of a soon-to-be safer world through the distribution of vaccines and continued public health and personal vigilance against the spread of COVID-19. And it can be in the knowledge that in Lincoln’s words, “the capability of a people to govern themselves” was under siege yesterday, and ultimately this sacred capability of the people to govern themselves prevailed and there was affirmation of a free and fair election.

This is a lot to process. This is why I hope that if you feel the need to reach out for help, the University is here for you. Counseling Services is available for students. The Employee Assistance Program is available for employees through Human Resources.

Mutual respect as individuals and peaceful respect for our democratic ideals and institutions will help guide us forward.

We are a community. We are the Wolf Pack Family. We are here for one another. Please take good care of yourself and look out for others as well.

Sincere regards,

Brian Sandoval