Election civility

by Green & Gold News  |   

The 2020 U.S. election campaign has been one of the most divisive in the history of the nation. For a variety of reasons — disinformation campaigns, interference from other countries, social media's echo chambers, divisive rhetoric, the enormous stresses of a global pandemic and more — people are feeling stressed and mistrustful to an unusual degree and emotions are running high.

We at UAA value every member of our community. UAA does not discriminate on the basis of political affiliation or belief, race, religion, color, national origin, citizenship, age, sex, physical or mental disability, status as a protected veteran, marital status, changes in marital status, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, parenthood, sexual orientation, gender identity, genetic information or other legally protected status. We respect intellectual and political freedom and promote intellectual and political discourse. We expect our students, faculty, staff and administrators will treat each other with respect and decency, even as we disagree — sometimes intensely — about policies and candidates.

As the U.S. prepares to hold national elections Tuesday, Nov. 3, we ask you to commit to the following:

  • To treat one another with respect, regardless of the outcome of the election.
  • Refrain from divisive behaviors (gloating, name-calling, etc.).
  • Actively work to find common ground and a sense of unity with our fellow Alaskans and UAA community members.
  • Positively commit to handling whatever happens without any form of violence and help de-escalate tensions wherever possible. Violence will never be tolerated at UAA.

Should you find yourself in a contentious dialogue about the elections in the coming days, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Try to agree on the purpose for the interaction. This reminds participants to keep comments focused on the agreed upon purpose.
  • Establish that mutual respect is necessary to assure a safe environment exists for participants to willingly participate. Contentious situations can cause participants to forget courtesies. It's helpful to share that mutual respect helps all participants express their perspectives and feel heard and understood.
  • Actively listen, reflect back your understanding and try not to interrupt.
  • End on good terms. It's OK to agree to disagree and it can be helpful to verbally confirm if participants are ending the discussion on good terms.

Since the results of the election may take days, weeks or even months to confirm, we may be living with uncertainty for some time. To help people process their responses to the election and/or uncertainty, UAA will host structured online drop-in groups for gathering to share feelings, fears, needs and hopes. These groups will not be about arguing for positions or candidates, but rather a chance to share on a more personal level. Sessions are scheduled for students, faculty, staff and UAA community members.

If you have questions about where or how to vote, please check the Alaska Division of Elections website. The UAA Anchorage campus Student Union will be open as an early voting location from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Nov. 2; and from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 3.

Creative Commons License "Election civility" is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
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