Office of the President

Hold Fast to Our Shared Ideals

January 6, 2021

Dear Campus Community,

I was shocked and saddened to see the U.S. Capitol under siege today. The right of the people to determine who will govern and the peaceful transfer of power represent two of our most cherished and important democratic ideals. Without a doubt, this horrendous scene was an attack on our most fundamental values as a nation by those intent on overturning a democratic election.

As an institution of higher learning, we are steadfastly committed to upholding the right to free speech guaranteed by the constitution. We extol the right to peacefully protest, which has been a hallmark of our democracy from its founding and an essential means of making known critical issues in society. We likewise strongly condemn the use of violence for political means. Such malevolence has a name, it is called terrorism, and what we witnessed today was just that — domestic terrorism. While these heinous acts may have briefly disrupted our democratic process, I am heartened that Congress will not be deterred in fulfilling its responsibility to certify the election.

I understand that many of you may be concerned about the apparent tenuousness of our democratic institutions. A free society depends on laws, fairly administered, but also an expectation that we will strive to abide by “the better angels of our nature.” Indeed, the scenes from Washington today may cause us to doubt the ties that bind us as a nation. I plead with you to not despair. We can overcome even the most bitter division. I hasten to recall that the horrific events of Selma’s Bloody Sunday in March 1965 galvanized support to pass the landmark Voting Rights Act just five months later. I am confident that, in time, our nation will heal from the anguish of this moment and become better as a result.

Of course, this strife comes at a time of already heightened anxiety and concern. The coronavirus pandemic has impacted us all, in L.A. County especially, and we are profoundly feeling the magnitude of the crisis. Additionally, the differential treatment of today’s rioters compared to what we saw with those protesting for racial equity earlier this year can be traumatic for those of us who experience racism and racial violence. If you need help, please seek it. Campus resources are available. Students may reach out to Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS) at 909-869-3220 for support and assistance, and faculty and staff can call 1-800-367-7474 (CPPLifeMatters) or visit

Please join me in standing for our most important ideals and supporting our community members who are most impacted by these challenging times. Together, we will emerge stronger.


Soraya M. Coley, Ph.D.