Shocking. Heartbreaking. An unprecedented threat to American democratic ideals that we have cherished for nearly 250 years.

Those are just a few of the thoughts that immediately came to mind as destruction and violence unfolded this afternoon in Washington, D.C., when Congress convened to certify the Electoral College results from the U.S. presidential election.

Free speech—including the right to protest—is a bedrock principle of the U.S. Constitution. We can—and should—debate and disagree on policies and about our country’s direction.

But when free speech leads to an ideology of white supremacy, destruction, injury, death, and anarchy that tears the fabric of an election process central to our democracy, as it did in the nation’s capital, it’s time to say enough is enough.

The people make their voices heard at the ballot box, results are tabulated, winners and losers are declared, and a peaceful transition of power takes place. It’s a process that has made the U.S. democratic system one of the most admired in the world.

The crowds that descended on the halls of Congress today clearly were not interested in civil discourse. Rather, these groups sought to foment insurrection against the federal government.

Today was a day that will live forever in U.S. history. Let it also be a day to remind ourselves of our responsibility as learners and educators at Washington State University. We are unequivocally committed to being a community that protects the free exchange of ideas so that together we can address the challenges facing our nation; challenges that include COVID-19, systemic racism, health care, the economy, global relationships, and more. Never in our lifetimes has the call to come together and unite as Americans been louder.


Kirk Schulz, President
Washington State University