A Special Election Message from the
President of Pittsburgh Technical College
Dear PTC Faculty, Staff and Students,
On Tuesday, millions of Americans will go to the polls to exercise their sacred right to vote in federal, state, and local elections. This will be the culmination of an unprecedented election season, one in which more than 92 million votes have already been cast. This election is historic, as all elections are. Voting is an opportunity to dream of the possibilities of America.
In even the most normal times, a presidential election inspires great excitement and uncertainty. That is how it should be in a nation whose government is of the people, by the people, and for the people. But, this year seems different and it is no exaggeration to say that the stakes feel higher. I suspect that most Americans – Democrats, Republicans, and Independents alike – would agree. This unprecedented moment has inspired remarkable political passion, concern, and division. The events of this year, from weathering a global pandemic to enduring racial and social injustices, have heightened our individual and collective anxieties leading to Election Day.
It’s my sincere hope that our community will see this year’s election as an opportunity to reflect on our shared values. Regardless of your choice of candidate, you should exercise this right with an acknowledgment that many people gave their tomorrows for our right to vote for a better, more united future. I encourage you to reflect on their sacrifice as we continue our pursuit of a more perfect Union.
We are one college, committed to embracing core values of accountability, excellence, diversity and inclusion, integrity and learner-centeredness. We care about all members of our community and do not condone bigotry, hatred or any artificial divides or actions that serve to fracture our community. Although, our nation is divided, I am confident that we can come together in fulfillment of the hope instilled in our Nation’s founding documents, that illuminated our better angels.
Pittsburgh Technical College is a microcosm of much of American society. As an educational institution, our goals are to provide opportunities for our community to understand the issues that differentiate candidates, and to engage constructively in an effort to understand why there is sometimes sharp disagreement on fundamental issues. Our faculty are critical in this effort, as they help us to foster an inclusive classroom and campus environment, that encourages challenging conversations where all voices can be heard and respected. Also pivotal to this effort will be the work of our new, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Taskforce.
We have no way of knowing what the outcomes of the upcoming elections will be. What I do know is that when the races are decided, some members of our community will rejoice, and others will fear what the results say about our country and our future. I ask that each and every one of us treat one another with kindness and understanding. The upcoming election results will establish the context for the coming years. How we treat one another in the days ahead, and in the days that follow, is critical to maintaining unity as a community where learning and development result from being respected, supported, and challenged.
PTC believes in productive civic engagement – serving causes and communities greater than ourselves. We believe in the free exchange of ideas – rigorous thinking and civil dialogue. We believe in cultivating and celebrating a diverse community – one made stronger by our mutual respect and understanding, despite our differences. We have certainly sometimes fallen short of these high aspirations. But our imperfections do not diminish the power of our ideals, nor how desperately this fraught moment calls for them.
Since our PTC’s founding nearly seventy-five years ago, several U.S. presidents have come and gone. But what has endured is our community’s commitment to the values that bind us. No matter the outcome of the election, I can assure you this: PTC will remain a place of true belonging for all of its community members, no matter who they are, or for whom they voted. Our success following Election Day will be measured by our ability to set a higher standard for how Americans of all backgrounds can unify and work together for the common good. I know we are up to the task.
To all who have voted already, I thank you. If you have not voted yet, please make a plan and take the time you need tomorrow to make your voice heard. Until then, know that whatever happens on Tuesday, the fabric of our country is this:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men [and women] are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it….*
Inevitably, some will be more enthusiastic and hopeful about the elections’ results than others. But whether on Wednesday we celebrate or whether we are disappointed, we remain family and we need each other. Every day, this community embodies an array of ideas of how to build the future; of how to achieve “a more perfect union.” Nevertheless, we are joined together by a fundamental belief that our lives are better, fuller, and richer, when we live them together, and when we live them for each other.
I am proud of how our college community works together through difficulties, how we celebrate together in moments of triumph, and how we treat each other with respect and grace when we disagree. This always serves us well, and it will do so in the weeks to come. Your patience will be required as votes are counted, which may not be for several weeks with possible legal challenges. Your continued aspiration and inspiration are also encouraged as we as a community traverse this moment. I urge you also to be kind to one another, to treat each other on Wednesday, November 4 the way you do today. As President Abraham Lincoln stated in his second inaugural address: “with malice toward none; with charity for all.”
Stay Safe, Stay Well and Stay PTC Strong!
Alicia B. Harvey-Smith, Ph.D.
*Declaration of Independence, https://www.archives.gov/founding-docs/declaration-transcript