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Preparing for the 2020 Presidential Election

Dear Members of the Northwestern Community,

We are a little more than a week away from Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 3. Whether you are learning or working on campus or remotely, we encourage everyone to vote if you are eligible to do so. Northwestern has a proud tradition as a national leader in voter engagement, having achieved one of the highest student-voting rates in the nation in 2016 with more than 90% of our students registered to vote and more than 70% of all eligible students casting a ballot. We hope to repeat that success this year.

As the election approaches, we write to offer resources to help you vote, to promote your safety and well-being and to support your safe and meaningful engagement in the vitally important issues we face as a country and as a community.


The University will be open on Election Day, but we are providing support and resources to help you vote more easily. If possible, vote early to avoid lines and crowds at the polls on Nov. 3.

Safety and Well-Being

The safety and wellness of our community are always our paramount concern. You might feel elevated stress and uncertainty during the election cycle in addition to the challenges presented by the pandemic and the environment. The resources and precautions below are in place to support you during this time:

  • Chicago and Evanston campuses: Northwestern continues to monitor plans and decisions by the City of Chicago and the City of Evanston in the lead-up to the election. Updates will be provided to anyone whose access to campus could be impacted by those plans. Your schools and units will also 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 supports 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 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
  • 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. Northwestern is committed to academic freedom and healthy debate. 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. 
  • 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: Northwestern University is committed to supporting a diverse and inclusive campus community. The University encourages debate, academic freedom and the free-flow of ideas and prohibits discrimination and harassment.

We are grateful for your ongoing commitment to working together to ensure ours is a civically engaged and compassionate community.