11.4.2020 | Dear students: Our democracy in action

Dear Students,

This has been quite a season in our lives, and it was quite a night for those of us who stayed up late watching the vote counting unfold. The unknown can be a scary thing, and I think it’s fair to say we are all disappointed, although perhaps not surprised, to not have official results following yesterday’s Presidential Election, but trust that this is our democracy in action. 

It is worth a reminder that our elections process has weathered other storms, but even during the Civil War, both World Wars, and the Great Depression, we have had elections and upheld the results. So, despite the countless hardships of 2020, I trust our democracy to work yet again. 

Our democracy doesn’t always look pretty. Uncertainty is uncomfortable. And as we move through this most unusual of times in our personal and political history, I encourage us all to take a moment to breathe. To pause and reflect on this moment, where we are now, and where we hope to be in the future. This has been a divisive time, and regardless of our politics or the outcome of this election, we all have a lot of hard work to do in the weeks, months, and years to come. 

Though we talk a lot about Election Day, the fact of the matter is that for many years, it has been the case that votes have been counted over a period of weeks and, depending on the state, results are not final until as late as December. That process is no different now, although many more people cast their ballots in advance this year. In some states, those early votes could not be counted until Election Day, and with record voter turnout and a close race, the process will take longer than before. Ultimately, this is a good thing. While I know it can be unsettling and frustrating, we should be thankful for those who are working hard to make sure that every vote is counted and we get the most accurate result.

Our democracy is built on the cornerstone of a peaceful transfer of power. A record-setting number of votes have been cast in this election, and this race has been a tight one. Every vote matters, and every vote should be counted. I believe that the balance of powers—executive, legislative, and judicial—in our government will help ensure that the process moving forward is a fair one. 

Our democracy is expressed in many ways. And I also believe that free speech is a necessary part of a thriving democracy. That speech may come in the form of the art you make, your letters to the editor, your calls to your representatives, your posts on social media, and, or course, in the form of demonstrations. Though our streets are quiet this morning, I know the city is preparing for potential protests. If you choose to exercise your First Amendment right in this way, please do so safely. Be mindful of the law, including the legal protections you are due. That safe exercise also includes wearing a mask when assembled in any large groups.

And as we wait for the results, let us remember that Election Day is one day a year, and while voting is essential to our democracy’s success, there’s much more you can and should do to help this country live up to its ideals. 

Our democracy depends on you. The choices we make every day are as important as the choices we make when casting our ballots. At this moment, I am reminded that it is as important as ever to pursue the change you wish to see in the world. And that goes beyond the federal level. I encourage you to use your voices and words, and your talents as artists and designers, to affect change locally, too. CCAD alumni have gone on to seek political office, and that is one way to make change, but there are certainly others, too. In my opinion, engaging with our community in various ways, from voting to volunteering, is one of the best things we can do to move forward.

I hope that you will take time today to practice self-care in whatever form works best for you. Tomorrow is a new day and will bring new challenges and opportunities. I expect we will be ready and eager to take them on.



P.S.  We understand that this campaign period has been a challenging time for many people in our CCAD community. Dean of Students Athena Sanders will host and moderate an open, online Zoom conversation today from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. (EST) for CCAD students to process the election experience and results. This is intended to be a neutral, safe space for our CCAD community members to connect and support one another, no matter what their political beliefs may be. More details on participating in that conversation are in the email Athena sent to all students on Monday, Nov. 2. And as a reminder, the Counseling & Wellness Center also has assembled tips to help address some of the election-related stress you may be feeling. You can find them here.