Thoughts on Elections and Civil Society

Posted on November 02, 2020

November 02, 2020

Dear Spartan Community,

In the last several months, our country, our campus, our employees, and especially our students have faced a great deal of adversity. The many sacrifices made in the face of COVID-19 and the deeply personal fight against racism have challenged our society as well as each one of us. I know it has been a lot to deal with, and I am proud of the strength, resilience, and humanity shown by our students, faculty, and staff.

And now we are on the eve of one of the most anticipated and closely watched elections in American history. The collective weight of all of this surely creates anxiety and fear, but I want you to take a moment to reflect on the core values that make us strong as a community.

In May, following the killing of George Floyd, I wrote: “to sustain our democracy, and enact our shared values of freedom, prosperity, equality, safety, and a brighter future for our children, we must solve our problems collaboratively.” That was true then, it is true today, and it will be true in the coming weeks as the election results are delivered and the future course of our nation is charted.

I encourage you to vote, of course, and make sure your voice is heard. And once that is done, I urge you to act with civility, respect, and kindness – regardless of whether your candidates win or lose. This does not mean you must be silent. College campuses are platforms for free expression and civil dialogue.

If you choose to celebrate, do so with compassion and graciousness; if you choose to protest, do so peacefully, without violence or malice. Be constructive, and be aware of those who experience things differently from you. If you see a fellow student struggling, reach out, offer a hand, and support them. If you yourself have difficulty processing the moment, use the resources we have available at UNCG – whether you are a student or an employee.

I am confident that our community will demonstrate the character, pride, and care that we have seen so often during this incredibly difficult year – the qualities that have helped us navigate successfully so far through so much uncertainty and hardship. I am also confident in our ability as a community to do what is right, necessary, and good as we take steps forward – no matter what happens in the election – to build, together, the brightest possible future.

Thank you.

Franklin D. Gilliam, Jr.