Monday Moments with President Bergman: November 2, 2020

Gustavus President Rebecca M. Bergman shares her thoughts with College students, faculty, and staff each week.
Posted on November 2nd, 2020 by

Tomorrow is Election Day. This year, given the record numbers of early votes cast in the United States, it may be more correct to call November 3, 2020, the culmination of our “election season.” If you have already voted, that’s great. If you are eligible┬áto vote and have not yet done so, now is the time to make your final plans to vote in person. Please exercise your civic duty to vote–it is a critical and central responsibility embedded in our democracy.

President Rebecca M. Bergman

We are all aware that emotions are running especially high throughout this country. We are hearing very different visions of the future being articulated by our presidential candidates during their speeches and in the media. And this emotionally laden political environment is happening at the same time as the COVID-19 pandemic is surging, economic uncertainty is rampant, and cries for racial justice are ringing in our ears. In our cities, neighborhoods, companies, and organizations, people are worried about unrest and disruption, and leaders are preparing for protests and the possibility of violence in the days following the election. We know that results may not be finalized on Tuesday evening. Please be patient as we await the final count.

How can we, at Gustavus, best navigate these stressful times when it feels like we are being tossed around in churning, whitewater rapids without a life jacket? When in doubt, I always advocate leaning on our mission, core values, and vision. These serve as our guideposts, underscore our convictions, and help direct both our thinking and our actions. This week, as our nation and its people engage in the democratic process of elections, may we always be reminded of the principles by which we live and learn at Gustavus Adolphus College:

  • We are committed to a liberal arts education–to thinking critically, arguing persuasively, and communicating effectively.
  • We adhere to the principles of academic freedom, shared governance, the creative exploration and open exchange of ideas, and development of the full potential of all members of the Gustavus community.
  • We are rooted in our Lutheran heritage, and, along with other institutions who are part of the Network of ELCA Colleges and Universities, we share a common calling to serve the neighbor so that all may flourish.
  • We live out our core values of excellence, community, justice, service, and faith…every day, all the time.
  • We uphold the dignity of all people. We aspire to be inclusive, seek to practice equity, and honor the differences among people.
  • We lift up our vision statement and work each day to achieve its┬ápromises–to equip students to lead a purposeful life and to act on the great challenges of our time.
  • We are a place where relationships matter, where we care deeply for each other, and where we show kindness in everyday interactions.
  • We are Gusties…people who practice continual learning and who aim to be the best versions of ourselves each and every day.

Whatever these ideals mean to you, I hope that you vote (or have already voted) for what you believe. Voting is an opportunity to put your values into action.

If you need a pick-me-up or a stress-reliever this week, I encourage you to listen to two new-to-the-world musical performances by our very own talented Gusties. As part of Give to Gustavus Day last Thursday, Neal Hagberg ’81 and Leandra Peak ’83 joined Chris Rupp ’02 to perform the world premiere of “Light on a Hill.” It will definitely bring a smile to your face. You will also enjoy listening to an amazing piano recital by Professor Yumiko Oshima-Ryan that was performed yesterday via livestream.

Until next week, Gusties, let’s all strive–even more than usual–to embrace compassion, warmth, and understanding.

With respect,

President Bergman


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