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Reflecting on the Election

A message from President Suzanne Rivera

Dear Macalester Community:

Yesterday, we witnessed an historic election that felt very different from previous ones for a variety of reasons including the global pandemic, a very divided electorate, organized voter suppression, and worries about the potential for violence. Many of us watched late into the night as results were announced, and we continue to watch, knowing that fundamental questions of equity, freedom, justice, and safety are on the line, especially for the most vulnerable among us.

This morning, whether you’re feeling confused, anxious, drained, angry, or hopeful, there’s one thing I know for sure: we each have a role to play in the important work of moving forward, and striving to create a more just and peaceful world, regardless of the eventual result.

It’s clear that Macalester’s mission matters now more than ever. We are committed to our shared values, and I know that together we are stronger. I hope you’re taking as much comfort as I am in being a part of this community in which engagement is so highly valued, and where we all are committed to making a positive difference. 

This was in evidence throughout the election season, during which many Macalester students, staff, and faculty participated in voter registration, campaign text and phone banking, and other civic engagement activities.         

The hard and energizing work you have done and will do to lift each other up, and to work for a better future, deeply matters. And, no matter who wins this election, there is much to do.  Looking ahead, we will continue that work together. It will take all of us to build the future we envision and I look forward to doing it with you.

While waiting for results can be very frustrating, we can take steps to reduce our anxiety.  Please put your mental health first and do what you need to feel better, whether that’s a long walk, listening to music, time with a friend, or just disconnecting from the news for a while. I plan to participate in some of today’s post-election activities for faculty, staff, and students, and I hope to see many of you there. We also scheduled a panel webinar for tomorrow– deliberately leaving a day for experts to make sense of what we anticipated might be confusing election results– to help us all process the outcome.

The fact that we don’t have a clear answer this morning is very dispiriting. It indicates that– no matter which candidate wins the presidency– this country remains tragically divided, with very different visions of the future. It will be important that we extend kindness and compassion to each other (and ourselves) as we all process our feelings about this in different ways.  

Finally, if you feel moved to take action today or later this week, I strongly encourage you to protect your personal safety. Be sure to wear a mask to any gatherings and try to keep distance from others as much as is possible. Take hand sanitizer and use it frequently. Have the phone number for Public Safety handy in case you need it. While Macalester encourages the expression of free speech, we also care deeply about the wellbeing of every member of this community. Please be careful.

November 4, 2020