RECAST | Navigating Stress Around the Election

October 28, 2020 

Dear Faculty and Staff,

Congratulations on a successful launch of this academic year. Our academic programs, classes, and student and residential life events are successfully underway. And, thus far, all students living on campus have tested negative for the virus.Your commitment to our shared vision and work got us here. You play a critical role in making Evergreen a welcoming, inclusive college dedicated to student success. Thank you.At the same time, we must acknowledge the pandemic’s continuing impact on our work and lives. Meeting competing needs is daunting and difficult. Ongoing tension over racial injustice, divisive political rhetoric and the possibility of an uncertain election outcome compounds and aggravates the stress many feel.In the run-up to the election, how do we navigate these times? How do we serve and support our students, one another, our families and the larger community during this difficult and uncertain period?  

Coping with Stress 
Our team in Human Resources offers exceptional suggestions and resources from which to draw personal support and relief. 

For all Evergreen employees, they recommend Eight Questions That Can Help You Survive Election Stress. One they offer is “How can I connect with other people?” For those feeling inordinate stress, the authors encourage a shift from a primary focus on self-care to community-care and serving others in need.    For the college’s managers and supervisors, they recommend Don’t Let Election Passions Roil Your Workplace from the Harvard Business Review. This piece offers concrete steps leaders can take for constructive conversations about the election before and after the election with your co-workers.  The state’s Employee Assistance Program offers additional materials that can help with election stress, managing disagreement and voting resources.  Let’s take time to review, reflect and consider how to use these tools in our professional and personal lives. 

Our Responsibilities as Greeners
Among the values we hold dear at Evergreen are: Honoring and respecting the rights of individuals and groups to express ideas and opinions, no matter how unpopular those ideas and opinions may be. Supporting and protecting each other, visitors, and the college from harm. Expressing our personal opinions and making statements in our own names, not as representatives of or on behalf of Evergreen. Not tolerating discrimination, harassment or abuse of others in any form. As we navigate this challenging period, these values and the many resources assembled by Jeannette Smith and Elizabeth Williamson in Elections 2020 should serve as critical guides for our campus in the weeks and months ahead. 

Planning for the Weeks Ahead
Your personal safety and the protection of the campus are our priorities. 

We have convened the Evergreen’s Administrative Response Team (ART) to plan responses to potential conflict and unrest surrounding the election. Their purpose is to interact with any community members who have concerns, issues or fears. If unrest occurs, they will observe and be present solely to protect students, employees and the campus from harm. 

The Teaching and Learning Commons is offering our community a chance to participate in a post-election listening circle, to share thoughts and feelings, on November 4 from noon to 1:00 p.m. You can RSVP to find out more. 

In the past, members of our community have been targeted by trolls on social media. If you are concerned about online threats to your personal safety or privacy, please look at the materials and recommendations provided by Evergreen faculty and staff in our Online Privacy and Security Workshop. If you experience online threats, including doxxing, please report them to Evergreen Police Services at 360-867-6832.

While this is an extraordinary period, even in normal times stress and uncertainty are part of all of our lives. Please take the time to use some of these resources, care for yourself and maintain connection to community. We are always stronger together.  
Take care and stay healthy,

George S. BridgesPresidentThe Evergreen State College 

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