Claremont Graduate University was the first of the Claremont Colleges to condemn the mob that seized the U.S. Capitol in protest of President-elect Joe Biden’s election victory — a victory many rioters falsely insisted was fraudulent in the face of all evidence.
But CGU President Len Jessup and Provost Patricia Easton simultaneously legitimized the false election fraud claims that motivated rioters that day — effectively negating CGU’s condemnation.
They spoke of “legitimate points and counterpoints raised on all sides” during the Congressional certification process in which multiple congresspeople cast doubt on election results, citing widespread voter fraud.
The Editorial Board calls on CGU administration to revoke its initial statement and issue a revised statement condemning dangerous claims of election fraud that further sow distrust in American democracy.
The Editorial Board does not wish to equate CGU administration with rioters and does not wish to write off CGU’s entire message. We agree that open discourse and peaceful transfer of power are vital to our democracy and that seeing Congress resume after the riot was a proud moment.
However, it is vital for the public and for CGU, as an institution of higher education, to understand the causal nature of a relatively small action — legitimizing all Congressional claims, including those of fraud — and a much larger one, like the storming of the Capitol to protest a fair election.
Currently, Claremont Colleges students undeniably occupy a world in which Americans can turn to violence in belief that an election was stolen — despite all evidence to the contrary. We, too, are horrified by what we saw on Jan. 6. We are wondering what we can do as a community to keep misinformation from escalating in such a manner again.
CGU should be working to strengthen the public’s dangerously shaky faith in American democracy, not tearing it down by legitimizing false claims of fraud.
Jessup and Easton told their students that there is perhaps nothing more vital to democracy than peaceful transfer of power. For CGU to revoke this claim and fully align with the truth is to help ensure peaceful transfer or power and, more importantly, that nothing like what terrorized the Capitol on Jan. 6 ever happens again.
TSL’s editorial board is comprised of its editor-in-chief and two managing editors, and does not necessarily represent the views of other TSL staff members.