November 11, 2016
Today we celebrate the commitment and sacrifice of the millions of American citizens who have served in our military to protect the freedoms that we enjoy as Americans. At a luncheon today, we are honoring all veterans, but we are particularly saluting the 160 current SMU students who have served in the military as well as many veterans among our faculty and staff.
Those who defend our freedoms come from every walk of life and in many ways represent the breadth of races and heritages that make up the citizenry of this country. SMU was founded on the principles that all humans are equal in the eyes of God and should have equal standing before the law. These principles are reflected in our ongoing efforts to provide an SMU environment that is accepting and supportive of the goals and aspirations of every student and all other members of our community.
Over the past months, many of us on campus have expressed our concern about the level of incivility and divisiveness expressed in some of the rhetoric of the Presidential campaign. Whatever one’s preference in the election, the peaceful transfer of power, one of the hallmarks of our democracy first exemplified by George Washington, is now under way. The change in the tone of the rhetoric since the election hopefully will carry over into the coming weeks.
The unexpected outcome of the election miscast by every major poll and, therefore, every major news report, provided no opportunity to assimilate the possibility of what emerged. Therefore, it’s not surprising that demonstrations have followed out of surprise and unpreparedness as well as from objection to the outcome. As long as these protests remain peaceful, they are clearly in the tradition of the freedoms provided under the rule of law.
As the three branches of government, wisely established by our country’s founders, sort through possible proposals for new legislation or action, the University community must continue to have the opportunity to discuss implications of both the election and proposals that might follow. We should all be proud of living in an environment in which differing opinions can be openly discussed while maintaining the absolute commitment that the University will be supportive of all members of our community. No outcome of this election in any way justifies hostile action directed toward any member of our community, nor should any member of the SMU community feel unsafe. Support services available from staff in Student Affairs and the SMU Police Department stand ready to aid any student needing assistance. All Mustangs are valued.
In times of the transfer of control of the White House between political parties, after assimilating the disappointment and frustration, the losing party and voters have always begun the planning and organization to regain lost leadership positions. Across the coming months, this, too, will happen following this 2016 election. In the meantime, our communications and actions, even in a time of high emotion, must reflect the security, equality and value of every member of our community. This approach is, in fact, the deepest meaning of our appreciation for the service of veterans we salute today.
R. Gerald Turner