To: The W&L Community
From: President Will Dudley
Date: Oct. 30, 2020

A critical part of our university's mission is to prepare our graduates to be engaged citizens in a global and diverse society. Some of you will have the exciting opportunity to vote — a fundamental right and responsibility of democratic citizenship — for the first time in your lives in the upcoming elections. I encourage everyone to join me in voting.

Our democracy also guarantees each of us the freedom of expression. We enjoy the liberty to discuss with each other the important issues at stake in our local, state, and national elections. At this current juncture — against the backdrop of a global pandemic, racial unrest, and a contentious presidential campaign — tensions are high. The deep political divisions in the country are reflected on our campus. This diversity of perspectives is a strength of our academic community, but it can also be challenging when passions are strong. As we engage each other across our differences, let us be respectful of the people with whom we live, learn, and work, including those whose beliefs are contrary to our own.

Already this term, we have had opportunities for educational conversations on critical issues, including the W&L Hillel's Civic Engagement Series and the Contact Committee's recent sponsorship of talks by Jeb Bush and Andrew Yang. Recordings of these and other election-related events and resources are available on the Provost's website.

On Wednesday, Nov. 4, Professors Molly Michelmore and Bob Strong will join W&L junior Katana Evans for a virtual analysis and discussion of the 2020 election, moderated by Professors Zoila Ponce de Leon and Marcos Perez. You are all welcome to participate in that event. Student Affairs will offer opportunities for students to come together in person on election night and the following day, in the spirit of fostering community dialogue.

Looking beyond the election, W&L is pleased to provide ongoing programming on issues important to our community, including the Africana Studies Program's Activism and Black Life series and the Mudd Center's series on Global Ethics in the 21st Century.

Finally, let me add an important note about safety. The recent incidents of race- and gender-based harassment here in Lexington remind us that we must be prepared for the possibility of demonstrations on Election Day and beyond. Please be sure to download the LiveSafe app, pay attention to General Alerts, and call Public Safety at x8999 if you are in need of assistance, including safe escort to or from campus.

Be well, and I wish you a strong and successful conclusion to the Fall Term.