Jan. 7, 2021
Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,
Like many of you, I watched yesterday’s insurrection at our nation’s Capitol building with horror. The mob attack that occurred against the seat of our democracy runs counter to our nation’s values and has no place in society. Those involved must now face the full force of the justice system they claim to support.
Ultimately, our democracy won the day because of the courage and patriotism of the men and women who risked their lives to secure the Capitol, the brave journalists who recorded history, and the lawmakers who returned to complete their constitutionally mandated work to certify the presidential election results.
Those who fanned the flames of disinformation and distrust, contributing to this mob, will live forever under history’s eye. That includes Chapman University Professor John Eastman, a visiting scholar in our Benson Center for Western Civilization, Thought and Policy, who spoke at the rally that preceded the riot at the Capitol. His continued advocacy of conspiracy theories is repugnant, and he will bear the shame for his role in undermining confidence in the rule of law.
I have heard the requests that I dismiss him. In considering this question, I first look at the Board of Regents’ policies, which state that the university will not censor a faculty member’s political statements or initiate disciplinary action because it disapproves of them. That policy stems from the First Amendment, which protects even abhorrent or ignorant political speech and prevents public employers from taking adverse action. Yesterday, we learned the high price of disregard of the law and the Constitution. I will not violate the law by removing a visiting professor from a position that he will occupy at most for only a few more months, as his contract will expire in May.
However, Professor Eastman’s conduct does not reflect the values of our university. He has embarrassed our institution. CU Boulder is committed to the free exchange of ideas and the pursuit of knowledge, and Professor Eastman has contributed nothing of value to support the ideals of either the Benson Center or CU Boulder.
As a campus and country, we need to move forward. Now that our nation’s election has been affirmed, our republic will be renewed through the orderly transition of power to President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris on Jan. 20.
Even so, we have more difficult days and weeks ahead, and our need for courage heading into this transition remains.
As a nation and a community, we need to heal the damage caused by this election and the political dynamics. The stakes for our society are too high for us to continue down this divisive path. Let’s use this moment in history as a rallying cry to rebuild the foundation of our nation that was laid more than two centuries ago. Let’s make this a time of renewal, healing and unity for our democracy. Let’s work together and draw from the strength that blossoms in the most trying times.