Thoughts on Northam

The former PLP speaker contradicts CNU’s values

~Jack Ronayne, Staff Writer~

Governor Ralph Northam recently spoke at CNU as part of the prestigious President’s Leadership Program speaker series this past fall. Over the course of his hour-long reflection on leadership, Northam presented himself as an accepting, relatable and noble individual who rose from a career in the medical field to command power in Richmond. After the speech, Northam answered the questions of students with poise by providing valuable advice for undergraduates across CNU’s range of disciplines. 

The Governor’s choice to travel from Richmond to witness the opening of the Trible Library Expansion demonstrated a level of statewide commitment and recognition, which impressed me. 

Northam also appealed to me politically, as I conducted some background research on the Nassawadox native. As I investigated, I found the current governor’s moderate stance increasingly appealing. The American political realm desperately needs moderates to bring others to the negotiating table, as together we must find solutions to the countless problems the country and world face.

The recently revealed yearbook spread depicting Northam side by side with an image of two men, clad in nauseatingly racist costumes completely turned my conclusions upside down. 

With this photo, Governor Northam betrays the trust given to him by the citizens of Virginia. 

I find it appalling that anyone would pose in such manner, regardless of time period. Racist actions, like the one depicted in the yearbook, are unacceptable. Northam’s stage in life furthers the offensive nature of the image. In 1984, Northam attended Eastern Virginia Medical School as a 25-year-old. A common argument against racist actions which appears is that individuals failed to understand the implications of such behavior due to age. This rationale collapses, as Northam fully understood erroneous nature of such conduct as an educated adult. 

While Northam stated recently that “This behavior is not in keeping with who I am today and the values I have fought for throughout my career,” I struggle with the contradictory nature of the Governor’s past and present stances on the racism which plagues our country.

From a governance standpoint, Northam’s position calls him to serve and advocate for a diverse population of Virginians, and to lead the state with decorum and dignity. As a direct result of Northam’s failure to uphold the state’s trust, lawmakers nationwide and on both sides of the aisle, now continually call for the Governor’s resignation. 

As a member of the Democratic Party, Northam’s past decisions run against the very nature of the organization; an organization which represents diversity, equality and civil rights. The image shows that the values he proclaimed thorough his career may be a complete facade. 

As a proud Captain, I am sad to say that our rising university now shares an association with a man whose values contradict everything CNU stands for. 

I was wrong to place confidence in this politician. If Northam wishes to retain any shred of honor attached to his name, he should resign immediately. I sincerely hope he does.

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