Voices of Simmons

President Wooten: The Election Season as an Opportunity

In one week, millions of Americans will cast their vote in what many are calling the most consequential presidential election of our lifetime.

I understand for the upcoming elections we navigate an intense political climate and grapple with the lasting impact it will have on each of us personally, as well as on our community and our country. These feelings, heightened by the ongoing pandemic, are shared by many across the nation. Nearly 70 percent of adults say that the 2020 presidential election is a significant source of stress, according to a recent poll released by the American Psychological Association.

As we continue to put a special emphasis on our community’s wellbeing this year, Simmons will offer a variety of election-related programming and resources, including:

  • Virtual drop-in hours for students, faculty and staff during election week, which will feature resources and activities to help foster conversation, reflection and self-care.
  • A pre-election virtual conversation with Assistant Dean Gary Bailey and Associate Professor Leanne Doherty, who will discuss the MA Ballot Questions as well as local, state, and national elections.
  • A post-election virtual event sponsored by Simmons Benefits to help our community manage digital fatigue and provide suggestions to unplug and rejuvenate.
  • A meeting-free election day at Simmons. I also encourage faculty to offer asynchronous classes to provide the most flexibility for students to vote and participate in other election-related volunteer activities.
  • The Ifill Forum, an annual event aimed at bringing together industry experts for an eye-opening and dynamic discussion on the important issues of our time. Directly following the Forum, I will lead a reflection conversation for the Simmons community with a focus on how we move from discussion to everyday action.

While this election season is difficult, it is also an opportunity. Colleges and universities have an important role to play in empowering citizens to be informed, engaged, and active participants in American democracy. Simmons is proud to participate in the All In Campus Democracy Challenge, which is made up of higher education institutions committed to making democratic participation a core value on their campus communities.

I believe in this idea of civic engagement deeply, and personally. Fortunately, there are things we can do to get involved. First and foremost, show everyday civic leadership by voting. The pandemic, systemic racism, and ongoing instances of social injustice are all on the ballot in one way or another this election cycle. All of us — faculty, staff and students — have a responsibility to embrace this chance to engage and to make our voices count. We can only have an impact if we vote. And, I am excited to share that I have marked my 2020 ballot and will deliver it this week.

Finally, consider participating in one or more of the community events listed above, which are opportunities to listen, learn, and engage. As Simmons continues its work to become the most inclusive campus in New England, we want to create supportive spaces where community members can come together and engage in crucial dialogue and understanding. I am grateful to be part of a university and a community that is so passionate, caring, and committed. I look forward to continuing these important conversations in the days, weeks, and months to come.

President Lynn Perry Wooten

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