Published November 2, 2020
The final votes soon will be cast. But what then? How do we process the results and make sense of what has arguably been the most historic — and divisive — election season in U.S. history?
Faculty, staff and departments across UB are offering virtual forums this week and beyond to bring the campus community together to reflect on and discuss the election results in an inclusive, constructive, non-partisan environment.
Yotam Ophir, assistant professor of communication, will start things off with a “Post-Election Public Sphere” set for 11 a.m. on Wednesday. The session is open to all members of the UB community via Zoom.
In an email invitation to students, Ophir explained that along with the stress everyone’s feeling due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Americans this year are experiencing additional anxiety with the 2020 elections, noting that more than 68% of adults — Democrats, Republicans and Independents — are reporting that the election is a significant source of stress for them.
And, “If that wasn’t enough, this year’s elections are surrounded by additional uncertainty due to increased mail-in voting, a flow of misinformation — including unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud — open questions about whether candidates will accept the results of the vote, and more,” Ophir said.
The day after the elections “will therefore be a pretty emotional and stressful day for many, no matter how results will look like by that morning.”
The public sphere, which Ophir described a place where individuals can come together to freely discuss and identify social and political issues in an open and democratic manner, aims to offer an “emotional and social outlet” for all participants, “independent of their beliefs, political preferences or demographics,” to provide them an opportunity to discuss and understand the potential outcomes of the election and how it may affect their lives.
“My hope,” he said, “is to create a forum that will allow for a respectful and compassionate deliberation that allows all to express themselves without feeling marginalized, ostracized or rejected. Incivility will not be tolerated in this meeting.”
Later that day, students will have another opportunity to share their thoughts and feelings about the election at a session slated for 3 p.m. It will be moderated by Danielle Johnson, senior academic adviser for the Daniel Ackers Scholars Program.
Counseling Services also will hold listening sessions to provide an opportunity for students to share how they have been emotionally and psychologically impacted by the election. Sessions will include discussion of ways to identify peaceful action, inclusivity, coping and support. Two sessions will be held on Nov. 4: one for the people of color affinity group from 1-2 p.m., and one for the white affinity group from 4-5 p.m. Sessions from 11 a.m. to noon on Nov. 11 and from 9-10 a.m. on Nov. 20 are open to all racial groups.
Other post-election activities include: