Reflection on Charlottesville
The events of the past week in Charlottesville and beyond have me reflecting on our work at Blackburn College. Clearly, the white nationalist, racist, and even Nazi sentiments expressed in Charlottesville are abhorrent and should be condemned, but how do they affect us here in Carlinville? For me, they provided a needed reminder of the importance of our work.
Decades of research show that higher education reduces an individual’s likelihood to hold racist, sexist, homophobic, and other intolerant views. Going to college also increases people’s ability to be empathetic to the plight of others, to break down illogical arguments with critical thinking, and to step into community leadership roles. Education can solve the problems of hate and intolerance better than any other tool we have as a society. A residential college experience, where students are exposed to people different than themselves and viewpoints they may not have previously considered, is an extremely powerful tool for the future of our democracy.
While we have special programming to build appreciation of differences, the reality is our work every day – in the classroom, on the athletic field, and in the residence halls – works against the power of hate and bigotry.
I would like to remind us that our Blackburn Values (below) assure everyone that we are committed to building and maintaining a diverse and inclusive community in which everyone is safe from bullying behavior or hate speech of any kind. I am proud to be at a College with such shared values.
So, hold your heads high. Our collective work at Blackburn College makes this world a better place.
John Comerford, Ph.D.
The Blackburn community values critical and independent thinking, leadership development, diversity and inclusion, service, shared governance, and moral responsibility.