Our Democracy at Work

Dear Members of the Campus Community,

Many across our community, both on campus and off, have worked tirelessly over the past year to promote the importance of voting—not only as our civic duty, but as the very foundation of our democracy. 

Over this past weekend we have seen as never before that every voice matters and every vote counts. Record numbers of people—more than 161 million!—participated in the election process. Through this process we are exposed to different philosophies, ideologies and priorities. From my perspective, I have long believed that exercising our right to vote is the strongest statement we can make to advance social justice and our hopes and dreams for a more fair, just and equitable society.

We don’t always agree on how to bring that about, and that’s an incredibly valuable part of the democratic process, too. What is important at this moment is the ability to listen and learn from one another as we seek to achieve our common goals. As members of the Puget Sound community, we are privileged to be steeped every day in an environment committed to the full, open and civil discussion of ideas; thoughtful moral discourse; and the integration of learning. If that sounds familiar, it should; it’s embedded in the university’s mission statement. It’s fundamental to who we are, and why we exist. Continually practicing and building these skills enables us to listen well, to learn from others, and contribute to the public good.

Our president-elect has called for an end to the divisive political rhetoric that has shaped our national discourse. We can do more than hope for that to be true; we can model it in our daily lives. We can also expect a new administration to have a significant impact on the policies that govern higher education. Terry Hartle of the American Council on Education has called this a “once-in-a-generation effort to invest in America’s students.” I certainly hope that’s true. A recent article in Inside Higher Education discusses some of the areas where we expect to make progress, including protections for Dreamers and Title IX, policies that address the cost of higher education, reversal of the recent executive order concerning anti-racist training, and more.

We will see what the coming months and years bring, and continue to make our voices heard at the local, state and federal levels to advocate on behalf of our students, faculty, staff members and institutions of higher education. No matter how you voted, I hope you are proud of your contributions to our democracy and continue your good efforts to help steward our great country toward an ever more perfect union.


Isiaah Crawford, Ph.D. | President