What will it look like to realize the ideals of our mission this year at Rollins?
First, a Rollins education is designed to prepare you for global citizenship and responsible leadership. You are being called upon to manifest those qualities, specifically with regard to the choices you make in following the policies and protocols we have set up to keep Rollins as safe as possible amidst the pandemic. This is the Tars Promise.
Perhaps never again will you see such a direct correlation between your individual choices and what happens in your community. You—each of you— in every one of your choices are determining the possibilities not simply for yourself, but for all of your peers, faculty, and staff at Rollins.
We all want the same thing: a deeply engaging, enriching semester, living and learning here together on campus. Whether or not we will have that is directly in your hands. I implore you to hold yourself and each other accountable. Have the courage and character to do the right thing. Demonstrate global citizenship and responsible leadership here and now.
Second, I urge you to make certain you exercise your vote, and that you prepare to fulfill this most basic duty in our democracy by studying the issues and the candidates, making up your mind independently, and expressing your will in the form of a vote.
As you think about the presidential election, ask yourself who is better equipped to lead this nation forward in this age of turbulence. Who is better equipped to understand the dynamics of the emerging world order and to make wise choices about how the United States and its citizens can prosper, even as we strive to contribute to the prosperity of others?
I am profoundly optimistic about the world’s future, not the least because of the potential that you and your global peers have to lead it forward— to take all of the incredible tools of mind, technology, and industry that you have to work with and to apply them with more wisdom and insight than those who have come before.
Finally, I want to focus your attention on one set of issues being contested in our society as we speak and that is core to this election: racial justice. We are in the midst of the most important social movement in this nation since the Civil Rights era. I urge you to study the history and central issues of this social movement, to take advantage of the array of classes and broad scholarly expertise we have around these issues in the faculty, and to educate yourself about them with all of the seriousness and academic rigor they warrant.
Being a global citizen and responsible leader in our nation at this time demands that we understand the genesis, history, and deployment of the idea of race in our society and others, how racism functions in legal, political, and economic institutions in societies, and how wealth, power, privilege, and opportunity are and have been distributed on the basis of race in our society and others.
All of these topics and concepts are essential elements of an education for global citizenship and responsible leadership, which is to say that it is important that you engage them, to form your own independent judgment about them, as part of your studies here.
I wish each of you an enlightening, productive, and rewarding semester.