Dear Union College Community,
On Tuesday, millions of Americans will go to the polls to vote in federal, state, and local elections. This will be the culmination of an unprecedented election season, one in which more than 60 million votes have already been cast.
The Union College community is a microcosm of much of American society. There are certainly political views that predominate among our students, staff, and faculty, but we should never forget that our community members support a range of candidates and political perspectives. As an educational institution, our goals should be to provide opportunities for our community to understand the issues that differentiate candidates from one another, and to engage constructively in an effort to understand why we sometimes disagree sharply on fundamental issues.
Our faculty have also been critical to this effort. For example, tonight faculty are discussing how to foster an inclusive classroom and campus environment, one that encourages challenging conversations where all voices can be heard and respected. During the Presidential and Vice-Presidential debates, faculty led insightful and engaging live sessions based on their areas of expertise.
Also pivotal to this effort has been our new, nonpartisan Civic Engagement Initiative (CEI), which is a partnership between faculty, staff, and students. The group has worked tirelessly on voter education, voter registration and voter participation. Yet another important effort has been our Forum on Constructive Engagement, which has focused on such challenging topics as police reform, racial injustice and healing from hate.
On Election Day, CEI is sponsoring an event called “Union Votes!” with giveaways, grab-and-go snacks and the “I Vote Because…” signs outside of the Reamer Center. Additionally, we will be hosting a series of post-election events for our community to process the results of the election and continue the conversation. For a full listing of events, resources and additional information, please visit the CEI website.
I 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 Union as a community where learning and development result from being respected, supported, and challenged.
To all who have voted already, I thank you. If you have not voted yet, please see the Rock the Vote website for more information about how you can make your voice heard.
David R. Harris
President's Office Website