A message of support from President Elam pertaining to the upcoming election day.

To the Occidental Community:

This Election Day 2020 is unlike any before. The unusual nature of this campaign in the context of a global pandemic and social upheaval has understandably created feelings of anxiety and apprehension as we ponder what is to come--particularly for many of our students who will be casting a vote for the first time. Our new voters are not alone in having heightened feelings about the outcome, whatever the result, and have the same questions as many others: how long will it take before a confirmed final count? How will the public, the politicians, and the government respond? The fact that our community has been scattered by the COVID-19 pandemic has only magnified these concerns and intensified these feelings.

If you are anxious, uncertain and distracted, you most certainly are not alone. If you are a student, please know that the College’s policy on excused absences for reasons of faith or conscience applies to your participation in Election Day activities such as voting, efforts to encourage others to vote, or working at the polls. Faculty have been asked to be as flexible as possible this coming week. Many faculty members have adjusted their syllabi to cancel class on Tuesday or otherwise introduce flexibility this week, and some faculty are using class time to hold space for students to process the outcome and meaning of the election. If you have worries about your work in any of your classes this week, please do reach out to discuss it with your instructor.

You also can take advantage of the Emmons Wellness Center counselors who will be providing all-day virtual walk-in hours for students on November 4, or the post-election talking spaces that have been organized by Student Affairs through the end of this week. This election is a shared experience and we should look to each other for mutual support.

With record numbers of early voting, many of you have probably already voted by now. If you have not done so already, please be sure to participate in our democracy and cast your ballot. If you are local, Oxy is hosting a voting center on campus in Lower Herrick, open through 8 p.m. on Election Day. Whatever the election outcome is, our hope is that we can in this uncertain moment reaffirm our sense of community and, in the spirit of Oxy’s mission, rededicate ourselves to achieving a fair and just society. The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., reminded us that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” We each have a role in that bend towards justice.

Very best,
President Elam

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