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Post-Election Message

Dear fellow members of the UVA community:
 
Last week, I wrote to encourage every member of our community to come together in a spirit of cooperation and civility after Election Day. I write today to underscore that message and to appeal for equanimity in our community following the outcome of this divisive election.
 
I have some particular words of advice for our students. You have lived through an historic election, one that will be discussed for weeks by commentators and analyzed for years by political scientists. For many students, this was your
first election; don’t let it be your last. You might or might not agree with the outcome of this election, and you might even be anxious about what the future holds. If so, do not allow any uncertainties you are feeling now to cause you to lose faith in the democratic process. The future of our country will depend on your continued commitment to participate in public discourse and to exercise your Constitutional rights. Rather than allowing uncertainties to make you captives of your imaginations, use your imagination to conceive and create the world that you and your generation want for yourselves. 
 
By coincidence, on this
exact day 191 years ago—November 9, 1825, in the first year of classes at UVA—Thomas Jefferson wrote to a friend that University of Virginia students “are not of ordinary significance only: they are exactly the persons who are to succeed to the government of our country, and to rule its future enmities, its friendships and fortunes.” I encourage today’s UVA students to embrace that responsibility.

All of us know that, regardless of the outcome of this election or any presidential election, American democracy and our system of representative government are built to ensure stability and fairness. In shaping the US Constitution before he served as the University’s Rector, James Madison devised a system of checks and balances to limit political power and to protect the rights and liberties of the people. Our faith in democracy has sustained our country for more than two centuries, and will continue to do so for centuries to come.
 
As we move into the future following this year’s election, let our values be our guideposts. We define ourselves by a shared commitment to reasoned discourse, mutual respect, and steadfast support for every member of our community regardless of race, religion, or any other human difference. Political elections will come and go. The values that we share will remain a timeless source of affirmation and hope.

Teresa A. Sullivan