University leaders speak out about Jan. 6 attack on U.S. Capitol

When a mob of Trump supporters took over the U.S. Capitol building last week, many around the country and the world expressed dismay about this attack on American democracy. Several Pitt leaders spoke out:


“As an institution of higher education, the University of Pittsburgh acts as a beacon, elucidating the way forward for society and lighting a path toward a better future. As such, we strongly denounce the seditious and violent acts taken today to undermine the outcome of the 2020 presidential election. 

“Our system of government is based on a shared commitment and obligation, bestowed upon every citizen, to uphold the Constitution and laws governing our nation. Our elected officials have a special responsibility: a sworn duty to support, protect and defend our Constitution and laws, including against the very attacks—physical assaults on others as well as direct assaults on the core principles of our democracy—that unfolded at the U.S. Capitol Building today.   

“None of us has ever seen — nor expected to see — such acts on American soil. Today’s events remind us that our democracy is not to be taken for granted. It is only as strong as our shared commitment to uphold its ideals and strive together to create a more perfect union. It must be nurtured, supported and defended. Despite today’s tragic events, I am not without hope. I see our country’s future leaders in our students, and they compel me to believe that this democracy is stronger than the shameful chapter we witnessed today.”   


Register now for “What Just Happened? Race, Justice, and Politics after the Capitol Siege” on Jan. 18. See story here.



“… We share in that legacy of representative democracy as Americans — whether we are indigenous, or descended from immigrants or slaves, or if we are newly minted citizens. That is why what we witnessed yesterday viscerally hurt and shamed us. This is especially true for us in higher education, as we are dedicated toward creating new knowledge that advances the human condition and further developing the young minds that will one day succeed us.

“I join Chancellor Gallagher in denouncing the violent acts of insurrection against the U.S. Capitol. We are a nation of laws undergirded by what should be a shared and respected commitment to the Constitution and to each other. Yesterday’s events — as well as the past year of social unrest and inequity — are in part a result of a loss of respect for our shared heritage, our laws, and what should be a shared concern for each other. When we supplant that respect with arrogance and fealty, our mutual bonds as Americans, citizens, and neighbors are broken.”

See full statement here.


“With the violence and upset at the Capitol, we are vividly reminded of the critical role of lawyers to ensure that our country remains faithful to the rule of law, to our Constitution and to seeking equal justice for all in our society. Like us, we hope you have been inspired by our colleagues — election officials, judges, and the other brave and dedicated public servants — who have committed to safeguarding democracy and its values, a bright note not to be forgotten in today’s chaos.

“We know this is an incredibly difficult time as we endure not just political turmoil, but a pandemic, racial injustice and economic uncertainty. …

“But if ever there was a time calling out for change, it is now. And we are up to this challenge. We hope you will join us in taking from this moment what must be our common calling: to demand that we are governed by laws that are fair to all, to model — through our actions and words — what is expected on an engaged and responsible citizenry, and, ultimately to help our nation.”


“At this time of shock and sadness over the events at the Capitol, let us remember that our democracy is precious and that we must work to preserve those principles, including the peaceful transition of power. The events that we saw play out as Congress gathered to ratify the electoral college votes serve as a call for each of us to reaffirm our PittPharmacy values. Years ago, we articulated our values and placed integrity and respect at the core. Placing value on respect means that we do not condone the violence we witnessed. As our values state, ‘Integrity guides our daily work.’ … Let us also renew our commitment to respect for individuals, their beliefs, backgrounds and the property that they cherish.”

See full statement here.


“We woke up this morning with a sigh of relief that our nation still stands, and a renewed reminder of where we are as a country. Yesterday's events in DC were shocking, but not surprising. We live in a world that has grown increasingly polarized, where hate and misinformation are rampant, and where systemic racism and oppression reign. We all remember the way the capitol was protected by layer upon layer of security forces in riot gear this summer when peaceful protesters demanded justice for African Americans. And we watched as radicalized white extremists stormed into the building through minimal security yesterday. This is not a ‘lack of planning,’ ‘lack of preparation’ or ‘lack of imagination’ — it is a reflection of who and where we are as a nation. 

“But, as we react with outrage, shock, and fear to yesterday’s assault, we must also remember that yesterday morning, Georgia made history by electing its first African-American senator. And we connected with each other about our fears, hopes, and unwavering commitment to our ideals. A few thousand rioters at the capitol do not define us — but they are an unequivocal reminder of our need for continued and expanded efforts.

“Collectively and individually, we must commit ourselves to assuring that a focus on justice, anti-racism, anti-oppression, equity, truth, compassion, understanding, community, and humanity is at the heart of everything we do. There is a great deal of reason for hope as we enter this new year — but better times ahead are not a given. They require that we all work together, redouble our efforts and commitment, and find courage to do what needs to be done to move our nation forward. I look forward to working with all of you as we help to reimagine and fight for this future.”


“Last week, on January 6, 2021, a group of terrorists breached the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., during a joint session of Congress to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s win in the 2020 Presidential Election. The University of Pittsburgh Student Government Board — in the strongest terms possible — condemns the actions that took place on this day. This fatal attack was done to undermine the results of a free and fair election under the guidance of the President of the United States and fellow lawmakers, all while putting elected officials and their staff in danger. …

“January 6, 2021, will go down as a dark day in this country’s history, but it certainly is not the only dark day we have seen. There are reports of more activity in the coming days leading up to the presidential inauguration. We ask the Pitt community to be safe and to be attentive of your surroundings over the next week.

“Healing from this event will require accountability from our leaders in Washington. We must not underestimate the influence of the words that come from those in power on people across the country. Still, even deeper and broader than this, we must all reflect on how fragile democracy is and the hard work and respect that is required for us to continue to live in a society free of violence and hate. Simply saying “this is not America” ignores the history of words and actions that made the events of this day possible. Much like the work needed to be done to get through this pandemic, reestablishing trust and truth in our civic institutions will require all of us. For the sake of our country, and for the sake of our futures, we must do better.”

See full statement here. The statement was signed by SGB President Eric Macadangdang and the members of the Student Government Board — Cedric Humphrey, Tyler Viljaste, Ben King, Annalise Abraham, Kathryn Fleisher, Katie Richmond, Victoria Chuah and Victor So.