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Statement on U.S. Capitol Attack from College Success Arizona President and CEO Rich Nickel

January 13th, 2021

By: Rich Nickel

Last Wednesday our country experienced what many consider to be one of the most damaging and dangerous events in our history. At the urging of the President, extremists from across the U.S. assaulted the Capitol to disrupt a process fundamental to our system of self-governance: the certification of electoral votes and the peaceful transition of power from one administration to another after a free and fair election.

The actions of the riotous mob are not only in total opposition to my personal values and beliefs, but they are also an outrage that exceeds what I ever imagined possible, even knowing how polarized our politics are. As someone who believes in our democracy, its institutions, and the aspirations they represent, the scenes from the Capitol had a truly unnerving and demoralizing impact.

At the same time, they spurred me to think about matters closer to home, the work that College Success Arizona does in our communities, and why it is so important that we remain unapologetically committed to supporting Arizona students, who are crucial to the future of our state and our country.

The students that our College Success Arizona team supports are the same people who, in only a few short years will lead our country forward. Many come from populations and communities whose participation in our education system and our democratic institutions has been marginalized. Many will have seen and heard in the symbols the insurrectionists displayed and their extremist rhetoric, a message of exclusion and hatred.

College Success Arizona, and I, personally, wholeheartedly condemn that message and the violence that accompanied it. We reiterate our commitment to a vision for an equitable and inclusive Arizona—and an equitable and inclusive America—where political representation, civic participation, and economic opportunity are accessible to everyone, regardless of their background or zip code.

As an organization dedicated to the idea that education is a powerful force for good—for individuals, families, and our society—College Success Arizona has a great responsibility to continue our vital work to expand access to educational opportunities and empower students to achieve their educational goals. The importance of that mission, and its focus on equitably serving students from diverse backgrounds and groups historically underserved and underrepresented, is paramount and we will not waver.

Our great hope, call it an article of faith, is that by building a more equitable education system and, by extension, a society in which there is increasing access to opportunities for full participation in civic and economic life, we are becoming a nation that truly lives up to the democratic ideals that inspired our founding.

Rich Nickel is the president and CEO of College Success Arizona, where he leads the organization toward its goal of assisting all Arizonans in gaining access to, and successfully attaining, a college credential.

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