November 2020 – This has been an election cycle unlike any in recent memory: divisive rhetoric, uncertainty, and a likely week-long wait for an official outcome.
All of this amid a second wave of a global pandemic, inequalities spanning race, wealth, and voting access, and the economic and social fallout from COVID-19. With this in mind, we reached out to Drew experts to weigh in on these challenging times.
A common theme: It is important to lean on support systems as we navigate the stress of the week ahead. From first-year students to alums to parents to faculty and staff, we always hear about the Drew community being a true community that extends beyond the classroom. It is a community of welcoming, of understanding, and of support. Lean on one another.
And another: We must remember that even amid the challenges, we do have agency—regardless of who you are supporting: VOTE. Drew’s mission statement speaks of students “add[ing] to the world’s good by responding to the urgent challenges of our time with rigorous, independent, and imaginative thought.” We can do that now. We all have a say. We all have a vote.
Here are some additional thoughts from our experts at Drew:
“A strong and trusted democracy depends on the active and informed participation of its citizens. The Center for Civic Engagement has supported the Drew Student Voter Project, a nonpartisan, student-led group providing education to the Drew community about how to register and vote, and compiled information on voting through our Democracy at Drew site. Providing civic education that enables our students to participate fully and responsibly in our democracy is a crucial function of higher education.”
—Amy Koritz, Director of the Center for Civic Engagement, Professor of English
“Find ways to engage productively with organizations or causes that speak to you personally and remind you that civic engagement is important, valued, and meaningful, and is not limited to a moment, but builds momentum and creates change over time.”
—Jill Cermele, Professor and Department Chair of Psychology
“The World Economic Forum has identified democracy as a key transferable skill of the future. Together with agility and technology, seemingly more clearly than ever, our collective readiness to adapt to our ever changing reality and our ability to do so collaboratively, interdisciplinary, and dialectically is becoming key to our survival and development as individuals, institutions, communities, countries, and the planet. Let’s exercise together our right to have a voice and thus contribute to our democratic union.”
—Daniel Pascoe Aguilar, Associate Provost for Immersive Learning & Career Design
“Our political orientations shape the ways we process information, the ways we respond to others, and how we are likely to assess the legitimacy of the election. The first thing we can do is recognize these tendencies in ourselves. If we know that our ideologies shape how we process information, respond to others, and react to election news, then we can engage in more careful and controlled processing, and correct ourselves when we feel ourselves falling back on our automatic and initial responses.”
—G. Scott Morgan, Associate Professor of Psychology
“As we anticipate the outcome of this election, I hope that we can keep sentiments of wellbeing and dignity of all people central at our moral and ethical core. Our campus community can be one that promotes a presence of peace, hope and love for all people regardless of the outcome of the election and our personal responses to that outcome.”
—Tanya Linn Bennett, University Chaplain, Associate Dean for Vocation and Formation, Associate Professor in the Practice of Public Theology and Vocation
“Limit your time on social media, particularly content related to the election and be discerning in your news consumption: seek out news outlets and sources that rely on facts and data, and avoid clickbait and soundbite stories designed to hook viewers or readers by appealing to emotion rather than reason. Check occasionally, not obsessively, for updates.
“Engage in health practices to manage stress and anxiety and practice self care: mindfulness meditation, time outside, exercise, spending time with supportive friends and family, nutrition and hydration, limited use of alcohol, and safe recreational activities. Set boundaries for the conversations you are willing or not willing to have about politics, and respect the boundaries of others.”
“Personal reactions to the upcoming election, racial injustice, the pandemic, and economic difficulties, whatever they are, are completely normal. The Drew University Counseling Center will offer a space of support and coping assistance across a range of services including group and individual counseling, drop-in consultations, and social media posts on wellness.”
“Threatening political rhetoric, heated civic demonstrations, and elections in particular, are always reasons for concern, but there is good news as well. While some undoubtedly drift further to the extremes during conflict, others gravitate toward the center in search of shared core interests and values. We can build on this experience by finding ways to lift up the common values around which we do agree and learn to engage more respectfully on the many issues we don’t.”
—Jonathan Golden, Director of the Center on Religion, Culture, and Conflict, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies
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