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Election 2020: Supporting Your Safe and Meaningful Engagement

Dear members of the Northwestern community,

We know this has been a stressful year as we confront, individually and collectively, the impacts of the pandemic, social injustices and now an uncertain presidential election outcome.

We acknowledge that many people consider this to be among the most consequential American presidential elections ever. The fact that the outcome is still unsettled as votes continue to be counted will undoubtedly cause additional anxiety for some members of our community.

We write to offer resources to promote your safety and well-being in the days and weeks ahead and to support your safe and meaningful engagement in the vitally important issues we face as a country and as a community.

Eventually we will know the results. In the meantime, Northwestern will continue to do what it does best: teach, learn, discover and reflect. Northwestern also will remain committed to supporting a diverse and inclusive campus community. 

Safety and Well-Being

As we stated in our Oct. 26 message, the safety and wellness of our community are always our paramount concern. Many in our community experienced elevated stress and uncertainty during the election cycle, in addition to the challenges presented by the pandemic and the environment. We encourage you to take advantage of the resources below.

  • Chicago and Evanston campuses: Northwestern continues to monitor plans and decisions by the City of Chicago and the City of Evanston following the election. We will provide updates to anyone whose access to campus could be affected by those plans. Your schools and units also will communicate any adjustments to operations that may affect you.
  • Resources to support Northwestern community members: The Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion’s resource page provides links to support and resources for students, faculty and staff. 
  • Student support and resources: Northwestern’s Counseling and Psychological Services(CAPS) team is available via tele-mental health. Religious and Spiritual Life (RSL) hosts individual pastoral care appointments and programs. The Dean of Students team provides support and connection to additional resources. Residential Services staff members are available to talk and help, and the Campus Inclusion and Community team offers space for care and support.
  • Postdoctoral trainee resources: Postdoctoral trainees have access to resources and a wide network of support through the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs, including access to the Employee Assistance Program.
  • Faculty and staff well-being resources: Employees have free access to our Employee Assistance Program, such as professional counseling, as well as the resources offered by our well-being program. Full-time faculty can access support through the faculty wellness program.


We encourage you to find ways to engage in meaningful discussions and advocacy. The University encourages debate, academic freedom and the free-flow of ideas and prohibits discrimination and harassment.As you engage in debate and the exchange of ideas, these resources can help to facilitate discussion, dialogue and debate:

  • Guidance on teaching during turbulent timesLook here for additional information. 
  • General Election guidance for managers and staff: Expectations of mutual respect in the workplace
  • Election-related events: Seek community and conversation around the election through a variety of events posted on the Planit Purple calendar. Staff can register for post-election support circles here. Additional events will be shared by schools, departments, units and campus groups. 

We know there are great societal risks when engaging in activism for many communities. However, be engaged global citizens to the extent you are able, and find ways to get involved and advocate for causes you believe in — but do so safely. If you choose to participate in a demonstration, protest or other forms of in-person activism, we expect that you will take the proper health precautions  to protect yourself and others.

In all interactions, including on social media and other forums, please remember our values. We are grateful for your ongoing commitment to working together to ensure ours is a civically engaged and compassionate community. With your help, Northwestern will remain a place of hope, inspiration and welcoming support for all.