Statement from President LeBlanc on Recent Events

Dr. LeBlanc shares reflections on disturbing acts at the Capitol.

January 07, 2021

To the George Washington University Community:

Like many of you, I watched in horror and dismay as violent protestors stormed the Capitol and tried to prevent the United States Congress from performing its constitutional duty of counting the Electoral College votes from the presidential election.  The pictures of members of Congress forced to take shelter under their desks as protestors scaled the walls of the Capitol were almost unimaginable, and those responsible need to be punished to the full extent of the law.  I have been reflecting on these deeply disturbing acts, and I would like to take a few moments to share some thoughts as we move forward together.

As the events unfolded yesterday, our foremost priority was to protect the safety of our community.  Given our campus location in the heart of Washington, the safety of our students, faculty, staff and broader community is always our primary concern in these situations.  But I also know that when we think about our location, it means much more to us than our physical proximity to events on Capitol Hill or at the White House.  At GW, our location represents the democratic ideals we uphold, our sense of civic responsibility, and our passion for public service.  It is a constant reminder that we must use our teaching and research mission in service of the public good, and in service of democracy—especially when that democracy is threatened. 

We have experienced many difficult months that make it hard to think about the future.  But we should remain hopeful.  I am optimistic because the best hope for our future is education.  We are a community of learners and leaders who not only talk about the importance of facts and truth in our national discourse but also bring them to bear on seemingly intractable problems.  We have done so for nearly two centuries, and we will continue this work—today, tomorrow, and every day—in the hope that it could create a better world for all.  Let’s channel our horror and anger about yesterday’s events toward a passion for making a difference and doing all we can to strengthen our great democracy.   

Stay safe and stay well.


Thomas J. LeBlanc

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