2020 Election Resources
Merrimack College has put together resources for students, faculty and staff to help navigate the 2020 elections and reflect on their emotions.
Elections 2020: Moving Forward Together
The polarization of political discourse, coupled with the toll of COVID-19, has elevated people’s anxiety and stress levels concerning the 2020 elections. As an academic institution and Augustinian community, we cannot accept a world divided into “us” and “them” or winners versus losers. Regardless of who becomes the next US President, Merrimack will continue to work tirelessly and intentionally to bridge the divides among us through dialogue and education.
The resources presented here are designed to help students, faculty and staff reflect on their own emotions and thoughts concerning the elections before they react to unfolding events or to people with opposing viewpoints. We believe that we can all benefit from learning how to engage in difficult conversations without losing our sense of community.
Resources for faculty wishing to address the elections in the classroom
- Administer an anonymous questionnaire/poll to your students to find out how many of them would like to participate in a discussion about the elections during class time. If responses are split, make the discussion optional and allow students who do not wish to participate to either leave early or just listen.
- Review some of the materials shared here - especially the recorded webinar on Teaching in Unpredictable Times and the IDP 2020 Election Guide.
- Identify your objectives, develop an outline for the conversation and determine whether you can facilitate it alone or would feel more comfortable inviting someone else to co-facilitate with you.
- Review the recommended Guidelines for Engaging in Difficult Conversations, adopt those that apply to your students, share with your students in writing and ask them to review the ground rules prior to the conversation. You may also want to read the article “From Safe Spaces to Brave Spaces: A New Way to Frame Dialogue Around Diversity and Social Justice.”
The Pedagogy of Facilitating Difficult Conversations
- Election 2020: Teaching in Unpredictable Times (Registration required)
- The Intergroup Dialogue Project (IDP) 2020 Election Guide
- Guidelines for Discussing Difficult or High-Stakes Topics
Avoiding Postelection Student Unrest
- This article includes many good ideas for classroom activities
Recommended Activity: Taking Stock of Students’ Emotions, Thoughts and Questions
- To get a sense of where students are without putting them on the spot
- To help students distinguish between their emotions and thoughts or questions
- To create a sense of community that acknowledges the range of emotions of thoughts expressed
- Create a free account on www.menti.com
- Create your slides.
- Ask students to log onto www.menti.com and use the code on the slide to add up to three emotions in response to the slide titled: What do you feel when you think about the elections?
- Ask students to respond to the second question about thoughts and questions.
Discussion of Slide 1:
- Share the final world cloud with students and ask them to identify an emotion that they empathize with and one that they have difficulty empathizing with
- Engage students in a conversation about the value of empathy, especially during times of crisis and in high-stress situations.
- Share relevant resources
See examples below of what menti slides look like after input from participants:
Emotions Word Cloud
Discussion of Slide 2:
- Share the results of responses to the second question regarding thoughts and questions about the 2020 elections with students.
- Ask students to read a thought or question that they did not write.
- Identify key themes raised by the students.
- Share resources to help address the issues and answer the questions.
General Resources for Students, Staff and Faculty
- What Next?: How to Move Forward Together After a Divisive Election
- The Final Election-at-Work Survival Guide: How to Make Non-Political Small Talk
- Don’t Let Election Passions Roil Your Workplace
- Difficult Conversations: How To Talk Politics Around The Dinner Table This Holiday
- Post-Election National Student Forum (Nov. 7) — registration required
Emotional Support for Students
The Counseling Center
Along with offering traditional counseling services, The Counseling Center will be reserving space for drop-in appointments every day starting 11/4 and continuing through Friday, 11/13. Please call The Counseling Center at 978-837-5444 to schedule an appointment.
“Exhale” Safe Space for Students: Wed., Nov. 4
A virtual safe space for students to decompress post-election on Wednesday, Nov. 4 from 9:30-11 a.m. or noon-1:30 p.m. Students can register for this event here. This will be facilitated by Sarah Dionne, director of the Counseling Center, Peter Rojas, coordinator of multicultural initiatives and Dr. Michael Mobley, associate professor and director of clinical mental health counseling program.