Category: Messages to the Community

Title: Affirming Our Values and Commitments in this Election Season

Date Published: October 21, 2020

Dear Students,

This year has been a time of unimaginable challenges for each of us. Between the COVID-19 pandemic, serious racial injustice issues in our country and its status as an election year, 2020 has been unprecedented. We hope you are well and taking care of yourself during this time.

We affirm that our Jesuit identity is rooted in principles of equality and respect for all members of our community. During times of division and uncertainty, we are reminded that we find community in diversity and strength in our care for others.

We also affirm that open discourse, discussion and debate are essential components of academic life as set out in Georgetown’s Speech and Expression Policy. As the noted education scholar Ernest Boyer wrote, “A college or university is an open community, a place where freedom of expression is uncompromisingly protected and where civility is powerfully affirmed.” We want to be clear that our openness is very consistent with our foundational values of social justice and inclusivity among others. Those values stand us in clear opposition to bigotry, hatred and racism, and in clear support of assuring that every student is welcomed, respected and taken seriously in our community.

During this time, we encourage you to consider several invitations:

  1. Speak your mind, share your views, and also model respect for one another.
  2. Register and vote if you are eligible.Affirming Our Values and Commitments in this Election Season
  3. If you’re feeling distressed, find support.
  4. Challenge yourself to have a conversation with someone whose views are different from your own.
  5. Think about your own social media use and what is healthy for you.

We recognize that our community is diverse in many ways, and we know that many of your peers will have perspectives that differ from yours. We hope that these differences of opinions will be respectfully acknowledged and civility will be thoughtfully observed. One of the gifts of our Jesuit mission is the Ignatian Presupposition — the concept with which St. Ignatius begins his Spiritual Exercises. Ignatius calls us, in listening to others, to “seek to save the statement rather than condemning it” — to assume the best in one another, even when we have very different views.

Thank you for reflecting on this letter and for all your contributions to our community.


Rosemary E. Kilkenny, J.D.
Vice President Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and
Chief Diversity Officer

Todd A. Olson, Ph.D.
Vice President for Student Affairs