October 27, 2020
Dear University of Oregon community,
I am writing today with a simple message: vote!
Generations of Americans have fought, marched, protested, and even died so that we all—regardless of religion, race, creed, color, or gender identity—can legally access the ballot box in this country. Your vote matters. Do not waste it. There is no excuse. Vote.
We have just a week until the polls close on November 3. I know this can be a stressful time, and that many people have intense feelings about candidates, races, or specific ballot measures. I personally have strong feelings about this election too; there is just so much at stake nationally, across Oregon, and even in Eugene. But I hope each of us can keep in mind that our community is not politically homogenous—even if it sometimes feels so—and it is okay for people to have differing opinions. Please remember the University of Oregon’s values of respecting others, seeking truth and understanding, and rationally weighing ideas and facts. That concept was reinforced recently in a message from the University Senate leadership about our shared commitment to maintaining our academic values through these times. Please reject the vitriol, hate, and irrationality coming from some prominent elected leaders and from some factions of news media and social media. We are better than that. Let’s show it this election season.
Now is a great time for you to educate yourself on the issues and the candidates. I also encourage you to talk with each other. When I was growing up, folks used to say the two things you should never talk about are religion and politics. I think that is simply wrong; some of my most formative moments were in college arguing with friends and classmates about political issues. So please don’t equate being respectful with being silent.
In addition to the usual sources in the media or the broader community, there are virtual events from experts provided by the UO. For instance, the Morse Center and SOJC’s Center for Science Communication Research on October 29 are sponsoring an expert to speak about Russian hackers and the influence of deception on elections. You can find other events and information on Around the O’s Election 2020 webpage. I also want to note that there are additional resources for faculty to help support student learning within the context of current events, especially considering remote and online modalities, in the Teaching in Turbulent Times Toolkit.
Finally, whatever results we wake up to on November 4 (or whenever the votes are done being counted), you absolutely have the right to let your voice be heard. Depending on the outcome, you may want to celebrate and express joy, or you may want to show your frustration by marching or joining a protest. Both are entirely appropriate. No matter how you feel, be mindful that acts of violence and destruction almost never hurt those who are the targets of frustration, but rather damage and endanger our friends, neighbors, and the community we live in, care about, and cherish. And above all, be safe in whatever you choose to do—masks are not political; they are simply good sense.
There are many election-related resources and some of them are listed in the Voting Resources section of this email. Please seek out the information that you need. If you are registered outside of Oregon, please make sure that you reach out to your local elections office so that you are able to exercise your right to participate in this election.
Michael H. Schill
President and Professor of Law