October 27, 2020
Dear OU Community,
In just one week, millions of Americans will head to polling places across the country to elect our next president. Many millions more have already voted by mail or through early in-person voting. In even the most normal times, a presidential election inspires great excitement and uncertainty. That’s surely how it should be in a nation whose government is of the people, by the people, for the people.
But it’s hardly an exaggeration to say that the stakes feel higher this year. I suspect that most Americans – Democrats, Republicans, and Independents alike – would agree. This unprecedented moment has undoubtedly inspired remarkable political passion, concern, and division. The events of this year, from weathering a global pandemic to enduring racial and social injustices, have heightened our individual and collective anxieties leading to Election Day.
It’s my sincere hope that our community will see this year’s election as an opportunity to reflect our shared values. At OU, we believe in productive civic engagement – serving causes and communities greater than ourselves. We believe in the free exchange of ideas – rigorous thinking and civil dialogue. We believe in cultivating and celebrating a diverse community – one made stronger by our mutual respect and understanding, despite our differences. We have certainly sometimes fallen short of these high aspirations. But our imperfections do not diminish the power of our ideals, nor how desperately this fraught moment calls for them.
OU was founded 130 years ago. Since then, twenty-two U.S. presidents have come and gone. But what has endured is our community’s commitment to the values that bind us. No matter the outcome of the election, I can assure you this: OU will remain a place of true belonging for all of its community members, no matter who they are, or who they voted for. Our success as a university following Election Day will be measured by our ability to set the standard for how Americans of all backgrounds can unify and work together for the common good. I know we are up to the task.
Live On, University,
Joseph Harroz, Jr.